There appears to be a very rapidly growing area of business, and even magazines to help you with your player selections now fill the shelves of grocery store racks. A lower barrier to entry for those with less money to lose?


Sports betting has thrived despite a large skill gap between the average sports fan and the sharp bettor. The reason is that the lines are set by a large, liquid market. You can walk up to a betting window in Las Vegas, select a team at random and still win almost 50 percent of the time. Betting randomly, you will lose money over time, but your average loss will be only slightly over the 4.5 percent vigorish.



Last week, a DraftKings employee admitted to inadvertently releasing data before the start of the third week of N.F.L. games, a move akin to insider trading in the stock market. The employee – a midlevel content manager — won $350,000 at rival site FanDuel that same week.The incident has raised questions about who at daily fantasy companies has access to valuable data, how it is protected and whether the industry can — or wants — to police itself. They also say the incident is "what amounted to allegations of insider trading."This is huge news for fantasy sports, a multibillion-dollar industry that's legal in the US because fantasy sports are considered a game of "skill."



 One for Dr. Bejan.

The Coffee Ring Effect is a well-known phenomenon. A puddle of coffee leaves behind a dark ring, instead of a uniform brown stain. This video explains why— and how this phenomenon resembles what happens in an avalanche.

Dr. Adrian Bejan replies: 

Dear Victor and Pitt,

Thank you for this excellent video. Very inspiring.

I have not worked on predicting the coffee ring phenomenon, but I worked on related phenomena. Here I show you two related ideas:

First, my short video on predicting the architecture of the snowflake, which is based on an article in nature scientific reports.

Second, my article on how to predict droplet impact behavior, splat vs splash. No film about this yet.

The broader domain of life and evolution as physics, to which all evolutionary flow architectures belong, was reviewed during my lecture at the NYC Junto on 3 September.

With best wishes to all,


Adrian Bejan ( MIT ' 71, ' 72, ' 75 )
J.A. Jones Distinguished Professor
Duke University



 So you've decided to go vagabonding.

What you're doing is courageous, logical, and not that unusual these days.

The bottom line is you've decided to jump the fence of your backyard to explore what's beyond. I did this metaphorically and physically as an Idaho spud, and haven't turned an eye back.

For you, good things are ahead. In the 1990s it was just becoming popular for citizens to step outside their country or second nation borders to live. We travelers called their areas 'pockets of ex-pats' and they were small but established in a town or site in nearly every third & second world country.

Now, however, the movement is grander, with hundreds of these pockets around the world, and up to tens of thousands in each. Some I've visited or heard about first hand in the past few years are Saigon, large cities of India, Seoul, Bangkok, a number of Chinese cities, and many more.

The nuts and bolts of finding and selecting one is simple. Get a Lonely Planet guidebook (at any Barnes & Noble) for the country or region you wish to penetrate. Use the guide in plotting a rough itinerary & picking a places to stay–immediately you'll be hooked into the travelers' grapevine. This is because almost every travelers use Lonely Planet, thus end up using the same facilities. You'll be sitting in a hotel, hostel, cafe or bar with dozens of other travelers and tourists from a dozen countries speaking four languages (English dominates) and you simply listen or ask what you want to know– where should i go for this or that.

Nearly every traveler I meet these days is a 'digital nomad', except me with my muddy boots.

If you are targeting India, Bangkok or Buenos Aires, I can provide contacts.

Your exploratory trip should connect the dots of possibilities, staying only a couple days at each, and allowing for side trips to nearby pockets of ex-pats doing the same thing you want to do. It's a scouting trip for overview. In one month, with diligence, you can have composed, and visited, twenty strong potential sites. The next step is to pick the top three, and live at each for one month to get the feet wet. Then jump in.

if you decide not to jump in, you will have had a wonderful time.

Pitt T. Maner III writes: 

In Central America, Nicaragua, is an interesting and beautiful country I have visited and lived where one can find the finest coffee, good cigars, and excellent rum, or live healthily and eat many exotic and delicious fruits (dragonfruit, nispero, papaya, nancite) and hike through the amazing cloud forests and waterfalls of dormant volcanos. The people are friendly and generally happy and positive. 



One for Dr. Bejan.

The Coffee Ring Effect is a well-known phenomenon. A puddle of coffee leaves behind a dark ring, instead of a uniform brown stain. This video explains why — and how this phenomenon resembles what happens in an avalanche.



 Anything of relevance?: "Rogue Wave Theory to Save Ships"

Stef Estebiza writes: 

Better than "of relevance", it is fundamental. The wave is only the visible part of the situation: "Artificial Surfing Reefs".

Pitt T. Maner III adds: 

Have you seen this video of a rogue wave hitting a tanker? The video is not, by any stretch, a rogue wave though. Those are large enough that their weight simply breaks the ship's steel.

Here is a picture of the damage from a rogue wave to Hornet from WW 2.

Steve Ellison responds: 

Yes, in the markets too there are infrequent "rogue waves" that can be catastrophic. A recent example was the move in the Swiss franc after the Swiss central bank abandoned the peg to the euro. If one is using leverage, such a rogue wave can easily be fatal.

The study of earthquake recurrences might also be fruitful. There was recently some media attention to the possibility of a magnitude 9 earthquake in the US northwest that would have many characteristics of the Japan earthquake in 2011, including elevation changes that would put some areas below sea level and drop others to within range of a tsunami. Such an event could occur tomorrow or might not occur until a later century.

Jim Sogi writes: 

A rogue wave can be a "hole" in the ocean due to random overlapping of normal size waves. Sometimes a hole forms big enough for the ship to drop into the ocean, and get covered up. The waves are not always "high" waves.

In the market, random and other forces can cause big air drops, or a no bid situation. I think these are the ones most damaging to traders. It's not just the big climax peaks.



 With copper selling at $2.50 a pound, wire thefts have become increasingly popular. Last month in fashionable Chesapeake, VA my brother chased down two midnight strippers on his bicycle. Little desert towns around me now in southern California look like war zones with every fourth shanty or mobile home broken into, and stripped. At my own Sand Valley property wire robbers stripped the extension cords, dug up underground wires, and burned them to the precious 'green gold' in my backyard barbeque. The other day in Niland, CA I was house hunting and paused at the sheriff station to inquire about neighborhood safety. The radio blurted, 'Copper stripper in the act in the chartreuse house on Fifth Street.' The sheriff piped, 'Will you stand by?' and I replied, 'Yes'. But secretly I tailed him, turning into an alley behind the chartreuse home. I got out and looked for people or prints, as the officer yelled, 'Police' and banged through door after door inside. He exited, pistol in hand, and yelled, 'Freeze!.' 'I'm the house hunter!' I shouted. We trailed the robber down the alley, and because of the price of copper I've decided to buy a house elsewhere.

Pitt T. Maner III writes:

There is a nice reward for those helping to catch Cu thieves:

"With the theft of copper communications cable increasing in Southern California, Verizon is offering up to $10,000 to anyone who can provide the company with information that leads to the arrest of the perpetrators."

Strange events since the price of copper appears to be near a multi-year low…perhaps the cables are easier targets or the thieves have become more sophisticated in finding and exploiting them.



 With Panama leading the group, a fast-growing economy and deeper canal can't hurt.

1. "Americas Lead Highs, Sub-Saharan Africa Lows in Well-Being"

2. "A researcher explains why Panamanians are the happiest people in the world"

We were curious about why Latin Americans fared so well in terms of their well-being, so we checked in with Dan Witters, Gallup-Healthways Research Director, to get some insight. "It's a culture of positive outlook," he said. "It permeates Latin America." He added: "There are some pretty poor countries there, characterized by many decades of civil strife, human rights abuses, and outright civil war — yet people maintain pretty impressive levels of objective well-being. For those of us who spend all of time in well-being measurement, it was no surprise to see Latin American countries in there.



 Dr. Spector makes some interesting claims in his new book. Gut bacteria are all the rage at the moment but fermented foods do seem to have positive health benefits. The phantasmagorical apparition of the rocket man may be able to quaff Kriek lambic and eat a piece of Bleu d'Auvergne with celery without ill effect.

Tim Spector, author of The Diet Myth, is professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London — and famous for leading the Twins UK team that compares identical and non-identical twins to untangle the genetic and environmental influences on disease and physical appearance. He also leads the British Gut Project and is currently using DNA sequencing to study the microbiomes of 5,000 twins. Spector’s book is the most comprehensive of the three, with dietary advice detailing what is known about the impact on the microbiome of different categories of food ingredient (fats, proteins, carbohydrates, fibre, vitamins and sweeteners) as well as alcohol, caffeine, antibiotics and other drugs.



 My current challenge is onboarding approximately 200 new traders in the next three months. While we have built sophisticated tools, systems, risk models etc., I have been becoming a bigger believer of the concept that "Who we are as individuals is how we trade in the markets'. I have compiled some of my own weaknesses and strengths and am trying to build a matrix of self-cognition for other traders to follow. It would be great to get the groups feedback on the thoughts below.


Makes and follows long term business plan


Will ignore long term business plan


Will handle times of market volatility and make smart decisions


Will panic when markets are volatile and make stupid decisions


Strictly follows Stop-Loss rules and Protects Trading Capital


Will not be diligent with Stop losses and will risk trading capital


Handles losses and down times in markets


Gets depressed when facing losses and makes poor decisions


Daily updating charts, indicators, business plans, Economic calendars

•Disorganized Too many charts, irregular updations, too many instruments


Willing to change view on market based on where the market is going


Sticks to own views and will fight the market even if he is wrong


Puts in the hours required for daily research, trading and journaling


Trades based on mood, not bothered with daily research and journaling


Accepts his mistakes made while trading and tries to improve


Does not accept his trading mistakes and blames the market


Understands and acknowledges that every day is different in the markets.


Tries to treat every trading day as same and forces his trading style


Follows a strict daily trading routine based on market hours and economic releases


Irregular with trading hours, does not strictly follow economic calendars


Understands why markets are trading up, down or sideways and trades accordingly


Will focus on personal profit or loss to determine trading strategy


Grounded and humble after making good profits - knows that he can lose it all


Thinks he has 'figured out the market' and feels he can always beat the market

•Not Envious

Focuses on personal trading results and how to improve his own trading

•Envious, Jealous

Is troubled by the results of other traders and loses focus on improving his own trading


Has the ability to maintain an inner peace and composure during extensive market moves


Is constantly agitated at every up or down move of the market and keeps fighting the market


Keeps trying no matter what happens and does not give up till he starts becoming profitable

•Quitting, Fickle

Gives up too soon if faced with trading losses and blames the market for his failure


Because he is polite, he can learn from other traders and benefit from expert knowledge


Because he is rude, he is unable to build a network of successful traders and misses out on the learning community


Realizes that he needs to do whatever it takes to support himself and his family and trades systematically


Thinks only of himself and takes rash trading decisions - often willing to gamble it all.


Understands that trading takes time to become profitable and plans his personal expenses accordingly


Is looking to reap profits in trading from day-one and cover living expenses - makes rash decisions


Will only trade based on defined entry and exit rules


Will trade based on mood, greed and fear


Will ensure that he trades less to keep the commissions low


Will overtrade and land up giving up all the profits in commissions


Builds a consistent track record of trading profits and can raise outside funds to manage


Inconsistent track record means no one will give him additional capital to manage


Realizes that all the trading results are of his own making and does not blame markets


Will revenge trade the markets in order to recover losses


Follows all the rules of trading and DOES NOT find excuses for breaking the rules


Willed Breaks trading rules often based on feeling fearful or greedy


Always analyses profits and losses and accepts where he got lucky and where he made a profit based on his strategy


Does not differentiate between getting lucky and making a profit based on trading strategy


Sushant Buttan
Founder and CEO

Brett Steenberger writes:

Interesting! The internal research we did suggests that cognitive variables are more important to profitability than personality variables. Personality variables had a strong relationship to trading style, not necessarily to trading outcomes.

Pitt T. Maner III writes: 

You are looking for professionals who respond to what seem to be the characteristics shared by most successful traders. But you can not standardize a trader, it's not a HFT robot.

For example, this morning I found this:

Bridgewater's Ray Dalio Simple Advice For Success: "Think Independently, Stay Humble"


"machine learning is the new wave of investing for the next 20 years and the smart players are focusing on it.

"Bridgewater Is Said to Start Artificial-Intelligence Team

Sushant Buttan responds: 

Thanks for the feedback. Much appreciated.

The responses are interesting and in some cases the qualities of a good trader seem to be diametrically opposite to the qualities in the list I posted…definitely food for thought. Vic, please feel free to post on the Daily Spec…would love to get as much feedback as possible. Thanks.

Victor Niederhoffer writes: 

Mr. Buttan's List is a good list for a spouse I think. As to whether they are good for traders' success, one would not know. Some of the best salesman and traders are totally disreputable. I would think that one key thing for Mr. Buttan to do is to do as much of the trading in house as he can, thereby eliminated slippage and bid asked spreads and capturing profits for the house. Indeed if Mr. Buttan were to make his trading floor a central exchange for all Mideast trades, so that he can capture the spread, I think his idea might work. MFM Osborne always wanted to create an automated market making system, and it would be great to see that developed to ones' profit. I have a query for Mr. Buttan. Does he want me to put his list up on daily spec. It's a seemingly useful list, and it might get him some helpful feedback. Galton always said the most important qualities for success were health, persistence, organization and a modicum of ability. One would recommend reading his work on eminence, which Jeff seems to have readily available. A good library would be great as a foundation for his traders.

Brett Steenbarger comments:

Yes, persistence in particular is important. The research on "grit" is relevant in that context. It is not necessarily the case that positive personality traits are associated with successful trading. Some of the highest Sharpe ratio PMs I tested score surprisingly high in negative emotionality. It is their fear/concern with the downside and overall vigilance that helps them achieve good risk-adjusted returns and avoid overconfidence biases. I would think putting the list on the Spec List would indeed generate useful input.



 Romance among the termites:

1. "Two of the most destructive termite species in the world– responsible for much of the $40 billion in economic loss caused by termites annually– are now swarming simultaneously in South Florida, creating hybrid colonies that grow quickly and have the potential to migrate to other states. In an article published today in the journal PLOS ONE, a team of University of Florida entomologists has documented that the Asian and Formosan subterranean termite simultaneously produce hundreds of thousands of alates, or winged males and females. Both species have evolved separately for thousands of years, but in South Florida, they now have the opportunity to meet, mate and start new hybrid colonies."

(and here's the PLOS scientific paper)



 The fish are getting smarter. The fishermen may need new methods or find a new "fishin hole". Perhaps there is something to be said for direct counting in light of behavioral change.

Reports on the dramatic decline of fish populations in the ocean which were only based on fishery-dependent data, for example data from the long-line fishery of tuna, cod or swordfish, could also have their cause in enhanced gear-avoidance behaviour of those fishes. We have to rethink our monitoring of fish stocks and take the behavioural changes into account. Maybe some areas with high fishing intensity host more fish than we believe," concludes study leader Robert Arlinghaus.



 At age 3 in Tallahassee I learned the hard way that you can not to play in fire ant mounds. A very adaptable insect– millions of dollars have been spent to eradicate them.

"Fire ants roll 'snowballs' to dig a tunnel":

"The ants' ability to build their home in different types of soil could help explain their global expansion. In the past century, they have spread from their native South America to many other countries including the US, Australia and China. And they're not only comfortable on land: the insects can withstand water as well, by banding together to form unsinkable rafts the size of dinner plates that can handle waves and unforeseen forces."



 Yesterday was the anniversary of the tragic 1906 San Francisco Earthquake (Mag: 7.8 EQ)

Dr. Lucy Jones, a USGS Seismologist (@DrLucyJones) tweeted an interesting fact surrounding the aftermath: "The greatest growth [earthquakes] in Los Angeles was the ten year period after the 1906, while San Francisco shrank"

This has my mind racing on trading ideas for testing. If you figure Earthquakes as single financial instrument and SF & LA as two separate markets with similar securities and something like security volatility as earthquake magnitude (my first guess approximation, there are probably better indicators, perhaps security liquidity.) Which of these would you think are worth testing for similar outcomes:

Various Central Banks maneuvers- Perhaps we're seeing it now as the US Fed unwinds and ECB picks up QE.

WTI vs. Brent

S&P vs Dax or UK or Asia

Currencies- take your pick.

Not a commodity expert so hard to decide there. I would consider gold but it seems universal.

Would love to hear of your thoughts and please feel free to call me out for Ballyhoo.

Enjoy your weekends.



anonymous writes: 

 On or about the 8th March this year I posted a piece on the site that may help clarify your initial thinking on what to test.  ( if you want it sent direct to you please advise ).

Amongst much else, there are two types of waves involved.  So called P -  and S - waves.  ( Wikipedia has a reasonable description of both ).

They P waves travel in the direction of the energy propagation whereas the S waves ( or shear waves) travel in a perpendicular fashion.

One starting point is to consider P wave as movements within and between the same type of markets ( SPU, DAX, NIKKEI) and S Waves as subsequent/coincident moves into unrelated markets. 

The key is that P waves show up first on the seismograph. There is no Mount St. Helens eruption without a P wave but there are plenty of P waves without Mount St. Helens eruptions.

One reads much about the precursors to major things/ events/ phenomena.  They almost invariably focus on only one side of the distribution (ie the crash scenario in markets). I believe the trifling ( yet cumulative /additive) information available in research papers should be used for predictions of melt- ups AND melt downs, not merely the downside.

Paul Marino replies: 

Thanks for the quick response, will certainly track down your post. I totally agree with you at the one-sidedness of looking for the crash as opposed to the melt up and its ramifications elsewhere in the system.

I'm looking at it from the SF side where things stabilized and grew and the calling signs for fut growth there were reinforced by the "event" moving along to the other markets. As Vic says a forrest fire clears the underbrush for future growth and a firmer ground.

I see it as a value with growth opportunity in the initially affected area, SF, and not so much looking for future crashes although you could hedge/pair against the trade by going against whomever is along the fault line thereafter as an idea. 

anonymous writes: 

What grew in the 10 years after the San Francisco earthquake (God's work) and fire (largely the work of the stupid U.S. Army) was construction, development and population in Los Angeles, not "earthquakes". Los Angeles largely owes its pre-eminence in California to the effects of that boom and San Francisco's literal downfall. 

Pitt T. Maner III writes: 

Related to the San Francisco discussion, I wonder how the recent dramatic changes in depth to groundwater in some areas of California might change the odds over time.


"Researchers proved that the Hayward Fault, which stretches through largely populated areas in the East Bay as far south as Fremont and as far north as San Pablo Bay at Richmond, actually touches the Calaveras Fault, which runs east of San Jose. There is an estimated 14.3 percent likelihood of a 6.7 magnitude or greater earthquake along the Hayward Fault in the next 30 years and a 7.4 percent chance on the Calaveras Fault, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. "The smooth connection between the two faults means that an earthquake could quite easily break both faults at the same time, making for a substantially bigger and more destructive event," said Roland Burgmann, campus professor of earth and planetary science and co-author of the study. "Deeper in the Earth, we find small earthquakes that clearly define where the connecting fault is.""

2. Average time between ruptures

A interesting list of earthquakes in California



I thought this was an interesting idea:

"Company mortality: Researchers find patterns in the life and death of firms"

"It's a simple enough question: how long does a typical business have to live? Economists have been thinking about that one for decades without a particularly clear answer, but new research by SFI scientists reveals a surprising insight: publicly-traded firms die off at the same rate regardless of their age or economic sector." and ' "It doesn't matter if you're selling bananas, airplanes, or whatever," Hamilton says — the mortality rate is the same. Though the number, of course, varies from firm to firm, the team estimated that the typical company lasts about ten years before it's bought out, merges, or gets liquidated.

"The next question is, why might that be?" Hamilton says. The new paper largely avoids engaging with any particular economic model, though the researchers have some hypotheses inspired by ecological systems, where plants and animals have their own internal dynamics but must also compete for scarce resources — just like businesses do.'



1) "The leechbook is one of the earliest examples of what might loosely be called a medical textbook. It seems Anglo-Saxon physicians may actually have practised something pretty close to the modern scientific method, with its emphasis on observation and experimentation. Bald's Leechbook could hold some important lessons for our modern day battle with anti-microbial resistance." http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-nottinghamshire-32117815

2) and an interesting blog published by the Society of General Microbiology on resistant microbes and microbes in general http://microbepost.org/



Fascinating story on the BBC World Service :

"For decades, Mark Landis donated art to museums and galleries across the US. He was feted as a wealthy collector but the pictures were fakes that he had created himself."

"I know everybody's heard about forgers that do all these complicated things with chemicals and what-have-you," he says. "I don't have that kind of patience. I buy my supplies at Walmart or Woolworth - discount stores - and then I do it in an hour or two at most."If I can't get something done by the time a movie's over on TV, I'll give up on it." The way Landis presented himself - and his donations - was also very convincing.

"He said everything an art museum would want to hear," says Leininger. He had a "back story about how he had this art collection and supposedly family wealth, promising money for endowments".Leininger sought advice from a former FBI agent who specialised in art crime. But because no money had changed hands for the forgeries, Landis had not broken the law. The burden of due diligence fell on the institutions who accepted his donations and if they displayed his fakes in their collection, that was their problem.

Pitt Maner III adds:

Reminiscent of another artist..

 "Eventually Boggs was acquitted. His lawyers persuaded the jury that even “a moron in a hurry” would never mistake his drawings for pounds sterling. In truth, the threat posed by his art had nothing to do with counterfeiting. If the Bank of England had reason to be anxious, it was because people knowingly accepted Boggs bills in lieu of banknotes."




 A wonderful and brilliant husband and wife team of neuroscientists, Gavin Rumbaugh and Courtney Miller, from the Scripps Institute in Florida, gave a very good summary at the Four Arts Society in Palm Beach of research and findings related to memory loss and Alzheimer's disease.

Things I learned included:

1. It presently takes hundreds of millions of dollars and approximately 14 years to go through about 10,000 potential drug candidates in order to get 1 drug to market.

2. Inserting luminescent genes has made it possible for computers to accurately count the development and location of new, active nerve synapses. This is important in order to more quickly test the effectiveness of new drugs on the regeneration of nerve synapses.

3. Learning or knowing a second language is helpful in the development of additional synaptic pathways so that if you loose one you will have a backup and retain your memory.

4. Getting out of routines can make the brain work harder and improve brain health. Simple things like wearing a watch on your right wrist instead of the left wrist seem to create new pathways. One guesses that hitting or throwing a ball with the left hand (if right-handed and vice versa) would be equally challenging.

5. Rumbaugh gave an overview of amazing compounds in the developmental stage that show promise in countering Alzheimer's. The basic idea is that histones can shut down the actions of genes that are important to the development of new synapses–remove the histones and memories can come back. (Kilgore M, Miller CA, Haggarty SJ, Sweatt JD, Rumbaugh G. (2010) Class 1 histone deacetylase inhibitors reverse contextual memory deficits in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. Neuropsychopharmacology. 35: 870-880) 

6. Diet, exercise, and good sleep (dark, cool room devoid of any artificial light source would be conducive) also important to brain health.

7. Dr. Rumbaugh and Dr. Miller invited all to visit their labs and look at things under the microscope. I may have to take them up on that. They said they are not in it for the money but are trying to do research that will be helpful to mankind. Footnote: One wonders if increased dietary intake of cruciferous vegetables, saffron, and healthy fiber to improve the gut biome would not be helpful for HDAC inhibition and thus body and brain health.

There is research that suggests so: "A diet high in fiber promotes colon health, and commensal bacteria in the gut may be protective against colon cancer. The bacterium Butyrivibrio fibrisolvens ferments fiber into short-chain fatty acids such as butyrate. Butyrate is an inhibitor of histone deacetylases (HDACs), which function in the epigenetic control of gene expression."



 It is ironic in Sao Paulo, Brazil that the storage of rainwater during the recent, severe drought by citizens in open containers has lead to an outbreak of mosquito-borne diseases (dengue and chikungunya ) and may require the use of a genetically modified organism (GMO) to counter the problem. And that the testing of these GMO mosquitoes is being considered for the Keys in South Florida. A great testing ground for mosquitoes would be Flamingo, Florida in the Everglades Park.


Experiments already conducted in Malaysia, Brazil and the Cayman Islands have found that releasing bioengineered male mosquitoes can reduce the A. Aegypti population by 90 percent. For the past five years, officials in the Keys have been working with Oxitec to get approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for similar experimental trials in Florida. Derric Nimmo, Oxitec's head of mosquito research, says only male A. aegypti are released in these experiments. "It mates with the females in the wild," he explains, "and passes on that gene to all the offspring. The female goes off and lays her eggs. The eggs hatch. But then they die before reaching adulthood."

2. Here is the Oxitec website and more on Florida project.



 We're talking about watch sales around here. Rolex apparently sells 650 million in watches each year. Susan says that wearing a watch these days is like jewelry for men, and that it's useless since everyone has a smart phone. We're thinking about Apple's watches. They'll have to compete with all the other watches. Supposedly they forecast it to use up 1/2 of all the gold production in the world. I wonder when Apple will stumble and launch a product that doesn't set the world on fire. Samsung wearable watches apparently didn't do that great. What do you think, and how will it affect the price of Apple. We just bought some on the news that they had to pay 600 million out of 150 billion in cash on a patent suit, which will probably be reduced to 10 or 30 million.

Stefan Martinek writes: 

I agree with the view that watches = jewelry, but then it is more about IWC Portuguese watches in platinum having an unassuming steel look and simple elegant design. Apple is not a competition here. Apple watch will need a phone for core applications + daily charging. Some people probably like to carry two devices when one is enough. Some people probably disagree with Diogenes "who wanted to be free of all earthly attachments — on seeing a boy drinking with his hands from a stream he threw away his drinking bowl, his last remaining possession".

Pitt T. Maner III writes: 

Given the popularity of the "Quantified Self" and Fitbit, why not a watch that monitors all your physiological parameters (via implanted sensors) and provides feedback on the optimal things to do next.

An early example might look something like this: "a new digital wellness and telemedicine platform which helps patients live a healthier lifestyle and connects healthcare providers to patients using telemedicine and wearable mobile technologies, today announced that its platform will be fully integrated with Apple Watch products. Or this: "Apple Watch wearers with diabetes will be able to use an app to monitor their glucose levels."

Carder Dimitroff writes: 

I believe the iWatch will be an ongoing success. Like they've done with the iPhone, Apple will convert the old watch into amazing and useful technologies. As such, the iWatch will likely become less of a watch and more of something else.
In my family, we seldom call each other. It's either an email, text or FaceTime. Phone calls are the last option. Our iPhones are not used much for phoning home.

Like the iPhone, each iWatch upgrade will pack in more technologies on less real estate. We will likely learn new tricks, become mindful of health issues and live a better life.

You can sign me,

Dick Tracy

anonymous writes: 

My son asked me why he has to go to school? "Why can't all this learning simply be uploaded into my brain?", he asks.

anonymous writes: 

The question becomes:

1. Will it ever have a cam?

2. Will it ever be independent of an iPhone?

3. What body sensors can be built into it?

4. Perhaps it will be the base for iHome?

Just some questions.

Duncan Coker writes: 

A watch is a perfect accoutrement for a man as it is rooted in a practical function. The form and design however vary greatly. They can be showy and expensive or simple, like the Timex my father had. Men like things that have a purpose. Watches are handed down from fathers to sons or daughters for generations. The Tank watch is one of my favorites though I don't own one. Fountain pens are in the same category as would be certain sporting gear like classic hunting rifles, bamboo fly rods, Hardy reels, or Swiss pocket knives that every man used to carry. For Apple I know design is very important along with function which is a good start for continuing this tradition.

Jim Sogi writes: 

A Swiss army pocket knife with can opener, screw driver, wine bottle opener and blade, a simple model, is the most handy camping tool. I love mine. I also have a pocket tool with pliers, knife, screwdriver with multiple tips. It's very handy for many things like sports, camping, and skiing. 

anonymous writes: 

I got a very nice waterproof sport watch used at the Salvation Army for $6. The guy at the jewelry store laughed when he saw the price tag and the battery was $15. You can get a real nice casio waterproof sport watch for $20 with alarms, date, stopwatch. I just don't understand some guys desire for expensive watches or computer watches. If the watch were small, had a phone and music and alarm, and GPS and the battery lasted… maybe.



 Primates of Park Avenue: Manhattan Motherhood from an Anthropological Perspective is a new book that will be released June 2nd, 2015. I found the description quite fascinating. 

1. "Like an urban Dian Fossey, Wednesday Martin decodes the primate social behaviors of Upper East Side mothers in a brilliantly original and witty memoir about her adventures assimilating into that most secretive and elite tribe.

After marrying a man from the Upper East Side and moving to the neighborhood, Wednesday Martin struggled to fit in. Drawing on her background in anthropology and primatology, she tried looking at her new world through that lens, and suddenly things fell into place. She understood the other mothers' snobbiness at school drop-off when she compared them to olive baboons. Her obsessional quest for a Hermes Birkin handbag made sense when she realized other females wielded them to establish dominance in their troop. And so she analyzed tribal migration patterns; display rituals; physical adornment, mutilation, and mating practices; extra-pair copulation; and more. Her conclusions are smart, thought-provoking, and hilariously unexpected."

2. 'From a deconstruction of the exercise and self-care practices of the caste of women with children she calls "Manhattan Geishas" to the lurid details of her own crazed pursuit of a Birkin bag; to an analysis of the rites of passage like the co-op board interview, the gut renovation, bed bug battles and "ongoing" school applications that brought her to her knees; to an exploration of what she calls "the world's most complicated, fraught, and misrepresented relationship, the dance between mothers and the nannies they hire to help them raise their children"; to an inside view of the galas, benefits, kiddie birthday parties and other extravaganzas of conspicuous consumption that define her adopted tribe, Martin spares no detail in exploring what makes Uptown motherhood strange, exotic and utterly foreign and fascinating.'



 Biomimicry is a fast growing field lead by expert Janine Benyus.

1. "As unlikely as it seems, the most promising routes to regional job creation, revenue generation and business expansion are the meandering trails of the Cleveland Metroparks; the oft-maligned waters of the Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie; and the rich canopy of trees and other plants that sustain thousands of species in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Welcome to Northeast Ohio, the emerging global hub of biomimicry. Or so it could be."

2. 'Hippopotamus sweat is a natural sunblock, Harman said. Furthermore, it's waterproof, antiseptic, antifungal, antiparasitic, self-spreading and non-toxic. Researchers at the University of California-Merced are looking at ways to use the chemical in commercial sunblocks, which are often either ineffective or toxic. "This is going to completely change our world of sunblock," Harman said. "And this is just one molecule that is going to transform the world of pharmacology and chemistry."



 The strongest material known to man is found in limpet teeth.

“People are always trying to find the next strongest thing, but spider silk has been the winner for quite a few years now,” Barber told the BBC. “So we were quite happy that the limpet teeth exceeded that. The teeth also bested several man-made materials, including Kevlar, a synthetic fiber used to make bulletproof vests and puncture-proof tires. The amount of weight it can withstand, Barber told the BBC, can be compared to a strand of spaghetti used to hold up more than 3,300 pounds, the weight of an adult female hippopotamus.”


“As the limpet tooth is effective at resisting failure owing to abrasion, as demonstrating during rasping of the tooth over rock surfaces, corresponding structural design features are expected to be significant for novel biomaterials with extreme strength and hardness, such as next-generation dental restorations.”




 Here are some excellent pictures of a beautiful tree species whose fibers were once used for life jackets from the local "Shiny Sheet".

Historic kapok: ‘a magnificent piece of living art':

"Grand. Awesome. Inspiring. Beautiful. Those are among the words you used to describe the giant kapok tree on the Lake Trail when we asked for your photos and memories of the 186-year-old tree."



 Greece has been discussed, but Brazil also seems particularly beaten down at the moment. There is a brutal drought and many things are going on with the government. I enjoyed this blog post on the subject:

A few months ago, I suggested that investors venture where it is darkest, the nether regions of the corporate world where country risk, commodity risk and company risk all collide to create investing quicksand. I still own the two companies that I highlighted in that post, Vale and Lukoil, and have no regrets, even though I have lost money on both.



 This silent video shows the project Skinner worked on during World War Two. The problem was that before radar, pilots trying to hit enemy ships flew so close that they were often shot down. Skinner realized he could teach pigeons to guide missiles. Pigeons were trained to peck an image that would look like a ship as a missile approached. Pecks on the ship would steer the missile towards the ship. This video shows training the bird to peck a moving target and then at the end, the bird pecking at the ship. 



 Okay. What market situation is similar to The Seahawks decisions to pass with first and goal on The Patriots 1 yard line with 1 minute to go which pass was intercepted.

anonymous writes: 

Working a bid/offer to get flat with a profit ahead of an announcement only for it to come out 1 minute early and go the wrong way resulting in a painful loss.

Andrew Goodwin writes: 

That play call will go down in the annals of history as one of the worst calls ever. The folks who gathered to watch where I watched included one most vocal who cried for Lynch to get the ball to run. Many were calling for the run.

Let us call this a trick play that backfired. The deception factor was high but the pass call was otherwise a poor decision.

David Lilienfeld writes: 

Respectfully, with the benefit of a good night's sleep on it, I disagree. Go take a look at the defensive line. Where was he going to run. The line had been getting a surge. I'm not sure that's the exact passing play to use. A screen might have been better, but a run wasn't going to necessarily do the trick, and with time running down, an incomplete pass buys time for another play. Bad passing call, but going to the pass makes sense. Just not that play. Something a little harder for New England to read would have been better, though.

Chris Cooper writes:

I'm in the middle of reading Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played And Games Are Won by Werheim and Moskowitz. The authors do an exceptionally good job of demonstrating how conventional wisdom in such situations can remain wrong. I would not be surprised to find that this particular example was a theoretically correct call which nonetheless always leads to opprobrium by the masses.

I recommend the book, and note that it is on the Chair's reading list as well. The insight into referees is particularly well expounded. Likely many market lessons.

Tim Collins writes: 

At the very least, you try the run. Lynch is truly hard to take down. Call time out if he doesn't make it. Use a QB roll out on 3rd down. Throw it away if not there. That would leave any play open for fourth.

anonymous writes: 

The play made sense in terms of clock management. It was about NOT giving a guy like Brady an extra 20 seconds to come back and beat you. Further, one must wonder why Seattle didn;t let the play clcok run down to :01 and call a timeout at that point.

A similar analog occurred at 2:02 left in the fourth quarter, when NE kicked off winning 28-24. I was certain they could kick the ball short, allow for a run back, let the clock burn on the play and then stop for the 2 minute nonsense, rather than giving away a pass play for free by kicking a touchback.

NE didn't do that of course, and by the two minute warning, the ball was at midfield.

The point is,running down the clock, or not, is not without its risks. The hypothetical — give the ball to Lynch, could have been a fumble as well. The game is comprised of such things, and no play is without risk, as is no trade, hanging out there by its lonesome.

Tim Collins replies: 

Fourth down play doesn't matter, so you have one run and one pass with the one time out. As long as my QB doesn't take a sack on the rollout, I'm fine. Plus, I thought they took too long to get to the line. There was 55 when they huddled up/lined up. Seattle took over 30 seconds to run that 2nd down play. Either way, I run on 2nd down. I'm stopped short and call time out. I now have roughly 20 seconds (plenty more if I actually get lined up in a timely fashion and run), so my QB rolls out. He is told to throw it away if there is not a wide open lane to the end zone or no one is open. As long as he does what he is told, I have plenty of time to run one last play from the 1 yard line. It doesn't matter what the last play is. I either score or the game is over as I will turn over the ball.

Sure, you could switch these and run the roll out on 2nd and the running play on 3rd down. I might even leave that decision up to Wilson based on his read of the defense, but these are my 2nd and 3rd plays. And, yes, I would run it again with Lynch on 4th down from the 1.

Pitt T. Maner III writes: 

My 2 cents and second guessing– Don't lead the receiver. Aim at his body so he boxes out the defensive back(s). The bigger and stronger the receiver you run across the middle the better. More chance of a defensive interference call. It was a play with poor execution. Lynch can catch the ball too as was seen– one would rather have him fight a rookie DB over a short pass. A fade to the corner with your tallest receiver might have been good too. It's all about size and position and ball placement.

Victor Niederhoffer adds: 

"Seattle Coach Pete Carroll Stands By Decision to Pass"

Scott Brooks disagrees: 

I disagree.

He had one time left and The Beast in the backfield. Run the ball twice and then use your timeout. At the very least, he Belichik would have been forced to call a time out to preserve the clock in the (likely) event that Seattle could have Beasted that ball across the goal line.

Worst case scenario, if you pass, do a fade route to the corner.

The Pats were stacked in the middle prepared to take on Lynch, why throw it into a sea of blue?

They even had time to do a play action and give Wilson time to improvise and still throw it away if there's nothing there. Then run two running plays and use the timeout in between.

It was a stunningly poor call, one that will haunt Carrol for the rest of his career.

Pitt T. Maner III writes: 

Think of the money involved (excluding endorsements and lots of other things): "This year, the salary bonus for players on Super Bowl teams has inched up a bit to $97,000 (up from $92,000 a year ago) for each winning player, compared with $49,000 for players on the losing squad ($46,000 a year ago). So the total gap between the game's winners and losers should be a bit higher than it was last year, when the difference was just under $3 million."

anonymous writes: 

Read a paper earlier this year that the most statically reliable goal line play was the slant pass. The least was the fade pass. In my observation the receiver needed to be about 2 yards deeper. He was too shallow to get separation.

Craig Mee comments: 

This reminds me of turning a winning position into a loser. We have probably all achieved this in a number of ways. Spreading off risk and turning over possession has got to be up there. I must include talking to a fellow trader and after the chat swinging your position from net long to net short, and watching the market go limit long.

anonymous writes: 

What about the quarterback sneak?

Would be good to have stats on how many inches/feet can be reliably picked up on a quarterback sneak, even if everybody knows it's coming:

"Around the time Pro-Football-Reference added the Game Play Finder in 2012, I used it to look up Tom Brady's rushing success in short-yardage situations (third or fourth down, 1-2 yards to go). The results were staggering. Including last season, in his regular-season career Brady is 88 out of 91 (96.7 percent) on these runs, including 56 straight conversions. That's almost as efficient as the extra point. After researching some other quarterbacks, I found that most of them had great conversion rates. This is largely due to the quarterback sneak, which has worked 85.9 percent of the time since 2009".



 I always thought dogs were angels too, and trained hard many years in veterinary school to heal them.

However, certain dogs in certain countries, depending on the people that influence them, in one month turn from angels to snarling demons. I learned a lot in the past seven months fighting about eight dog packs of 5-10 animals each by being surrounded by them all snapping within four feet – front, back, and either side.

The best thing to do is to back into a corner. Otherwise the fastest alpha will sprint around and try to hamstring you by biting in the rear. It's impossible to watch 360 degrees, so if one is encircled without any plan or mental rehearsal, blood is sure to flow. Yours.

It's exactly the same technique I watched on a National Geographic film of packs of 6-10 wolves each taking down caribou, deer, elk or even bison in Alaska. Unless the prey can outrun the predators (not me any more), or back into a corner so there is no real side or rear attack, or grab a weapon, then one is at the mercy of the canines.

This never happened to me, though I was bitten biweekly by the Peru Amazon street dogs in various haunts where I walk. The two primary fighting techniques were to pick out the alpha (usually the biggest male), and charge it ignoring the attempted nips from the rest. Once you kick the alpha in the teeth and he whines, the rest retreat. In the common case of the fastest dog running around end to get behind you, I always turn and immediately chase it trying to kick it. You need to get to it fast because as you turn to face it the rest of the pack rushes your heels. That dog is the fastest, usually the bravest, and once it zips off the rest will follow its lead away from your body.

Once I got these strategies down, I actually looked forward to the afternoon or night workouts of fighting off the packs after a long stint at the 'office', and it was restful before going to bed.

Sad to say for a veterinarian, I resorted to psychological warfare to turn the tide to keep from going psychologically rabid myself. I knew the dog alpha of each of the eight packs in a blink at a block's distance; it was usually the biggest male, but nearly as often the stupidest which is to say most fearless, like pit bulls and bulldogs. My psych warfare was to stalk them during their sleep, especially during a night rainstorm, and kick them directly in the cranium. If you kick in the eye, ear, nose or teeth it can cause permanent damage, but I only wanted to establish myself as their dominant. My foot made hard contact about twenty times over the months with the various sleeping alphas, as hard as football punts, but their heads are so hard that it was like kicking a 8" diameter rock. I alternated feet over the weeks waiting for the soreness to go away. I have no toenails left on either of my big toes from this.

Then the psychological part comes into play – a hard head kicked sleeping dog awakes instantly and instinctively turns and bites at the foot. There's a split second to kick a second time with the same, or better, the opposite foot, and about one second after your first kick the animal registers pain, the eyes dull, and it withers off yelping in pain with a tucked tail. Now is the time to follow it through the rain for blocks, not letting it lie down, rest or sleep for about thirty minutes. It's easier than you think because every alpha returns to the same spot after a few minutes, so I just lay in wait, as they have done with me, and keep them awake and moving. It's a combination of pain and sleep deprivation, and after a few nights of this, without fail, the alpha will no longer lead the pack in attack. Instead, when it sees me coming, it lowers the head in a cowering gesture and sulks off, followed by the rest.

That's the time to be on the alert for attacks from street people, who live like them, and empathize in bands. I know this from hundreds of encounters with the same packs in the past few months in the Amazon where the dogs have turned nasty with a sudden rise in consciousness of the people who now treat the dogs like second, instead of equal, citizens.

These are the techniques to beat fallen canine angels. And they worked on people too.

Pitt T. Maner III suggests: 

These high frequency deterrents called zappers work fairly well and could be easily shipped to Peru.  At least it would make an interesting study.

Marion Dreyfus writes: 

When I rented a house on a hilltop at End of The World, Zimbabwe, baboons made increasingly aggressive encroachments toward me and the house. I remember saying to the park ranger, who came and shot the baboons dead: "Once they are no longer afraid of people, they will rip your face off. We must kill them to keep that from happening."

Andy writes: 

A recent study on Montana and Wyoming data indicates that killing wolves leads to increased depredation of farm livestock.

One theory proposed is that shooting the alpha breaks the discipline of the pack and leads to more independent wolf breeding pairs. These rogue lone attackers are more likely to predate livestock than an alpha led pack.

The researchers did not find a drop in the depredation until >25% of them were destroyed, which corresponds to their population's rate of increase.

The idea for a rancher is to avoid killing the alpha unless he can and will take out more than 25% of the population of the wolves.



 The trouble with movies is that they have to pretend that a bunch of people hitting focus marks according to a shooting script somehow represent "reality". The trouble with war movies is that their portrayal of "reality" is almost always made by people who have never gotten shot at. There are some exceptions: They Were Expendable (which was a box office semi-dud) had Robert Montgomery, and he was even able to prevent John Ford from injecting his usual bravado. James Stewart was able to convey something of what it is like to fly bombers in combat and he helped his friend Gregory Peck put that across in Twelve O'Clock High; but these are the only ones that come to mind for this former Hollywoodista. I doubt American Sniper is much different; but I am not curious enough to find out. (My taste in films is now antique; I find the underscoring in most "modern" films and TV so maddening and deafening that I limit myself to the ones where there is a reason for the music - i.e. Fred and Ginger are doing something to it.) What I can say, without having seen the movie, is that they probably made it about the wrong guy. As Chris Kyle himself was generous enough to say in his C-SPAN interview, Carlos Hathcock is the model; everyone is else is just trying to learn his lessons.

Pitt T. Maner III writes: 

Michael Moore received a bit of feedback for one of his recent comments related to the film: "Marine Sniper Dakota Meyer: Michael Moore's the Real Coward". Maybe he should stick to Selma…

Craig Mee writes: 

"Hitchcock once said that he survived in his work because of an ability to "get in the bubble," to put himself into a state of "utter, complete, absolute concentration," first with his equipment, then his environment, in which every breeze and every leaf meant something, and finally on his quarry."



This is an interesting article on the evolution of planes From a constructal view and the need for efficient flow:

"Commercial airplanes satisfy an insatiable need of the human and machine species to move as many people as possible a specified distance while using as little fuel as possible."



"Police: Juvenile posed as doctor at St. Mary's hospital":

A security guard told police the boy is known around the hospital as a doctor. The guard said he had seen the "doctor" around for about a month, according to the report.



 If ever the appropriate thought were "physician, heal thyself" it would apply to Smith. He's the source of most of their problems. And when he gets back in, the Knicks will be totally hopeless. One tends to forget how bad he is when he's out.

Jim Wildman writes:

It would seem to be a case of someone who is sure of their talents being unaware of what talents they lack. He is unable to see himself as part of the problem because he does not see himself as having weaknesses.

Pitt T. Maner III writes:

Happy Holidays and New Year to all. A quote from a Knickerbocker caught my eye:

While he has been out, Smith has spent a lot of time watching film, trying to figure out why the Knicks have struggled so often late in games, losing 16 times by single-digits. "I think that's the million-dollar question," Smith said. "It looks like it's so many things, but at the same time it's got to be something real small to change because we're still in most games. It's hard to tell right now. If we knew our record would definitely show it."  



 This website is a nice visualization of global weather conditions through the use of supercomputers. It will be interesting to see how the jet stream responds to larger systems this winter and what the impacts might be on the use of natural gas.

Now if there was just a streaming model of where money was flowing around the world…



 I found this article on the use of different shock methods by electric eels quite fascinating.


Electric eels produce the most powerful shocks of any fish. They can zap prey with up to 600 volts of electricity, enough to hurt even a human. But the serpentlike fish have an even more amazing trick up their sleeve, new research reveals. The eels can shock their prey from meters away, making them twitch to reveal their hiding spot and providing the eel with an easy snack." and ' "It's a fascinating example of evolution in action," Gallant says. "The eel isn't just applying a voltage to the water and hoping everything dies. It's a very specific behavior that's obviously been acted on by selection to be refined."



Here is a prediction from an experienced old timer–with natural gas leanings. T. Boone's take:

Oil price prognostication has become a new parlor game on Wall Street and in shale-oil pockets across the U.S. Pickens, in backing his own call, alluded to his roughly 50-year tenure in the oil industry, saying: "You can't imagine how many of these cycles I have seen and endured." 

Reminds one a bit of "Horse Tradin" by Mr. Green.



 Unusual comments in this article: "Oil Shock Streaks Across Globe From Moscow to Tehran to Caracas. Ready for $40?" .

The exploration budgets vs. chaos take–a correlation with rioting in Venezuela? Who blinks first?

"If the governments aren't able to spend to keep the kids off the streets they will go back to the streets, and we could start to see political disruption and upheaval," said Paul Stevens, distinguished fellow for energy, environment and resources at Chatham House in London, a U.K. policy group.

"The majority of members of OPEC need well over $100 a barrel to balance their budgets. If they start cutting expenditure, this is likely to cause problems."

More from Professor Stevens:

However, in terms of OPEC's current strategy, the break-even price is the wrong metric. What matters in the next few years is the shut-in price. After the 1986 price collapse, a number of stripper wells in US (with high variable costs) did close, but the loss of production was minimal. North Sea production, which had been OPEC's prime target, was hardly affected and actually increased in 1987. The current level of shut-in price for shale oil is again debatable, but almost certainly is well below $40 per barrel. Thus it will be some time before existing shale oil production falls, even if prices stay low. Should the oil price fall towards variable costs, threatening shale supply, it will be the OPEC producers who must blink first. They will then try to take back control of the market, if they can.

See more at: "Deja Vu for OPEC as Oil Prices Tumble".



 Perhaps other patterns and first appearances are to be found in the Twitter realm at lower cost.

"Twitter "Exhaust" Reveals Patterns of Unemployment":

"We demonstrate that behavioural features related to unemployment can be recovered from the digital exhaust left by the microblogging network Twitter," say Llorente and co.'


"The immediacy of social media may also allow governments to better measure and understand the effect of policies, social changes, natural or man-made disasters in the economical status of cities in almost real-time," say Llorente and co, adding that their techniques should be applicable anywhere in the world. Work like this shows how the nature of economic data gathering is changing. It'll be interesting to see how quickly governments and other organisations adapt.



 From the Department of Skyscraper Index.

A replica of Manhattan could be a tourist attraction one day in China? Amazing.

"Few Signs of Construction at Yujiapu, China's Manhattan Replica":

China's $50-billion knock-off of the Big Apple sits on a river bend — much like its namesake — near the port city of Tianjin, some 120 miles from Beijing. Complete with its own Rockefeller Center and Twin Towers, it's been billed as the world's largest financial center in the making. But this Manhattan still has a long way to go.

And yet, as the author writes in his book: "Henry Sanderson, Michael Forsythe China's Superbank: Debt, Oil and Influence 2012:

There's a point where ambition and enthusiasm becomes recklessness and hubris, and Tianjin may have crossed that line. There's no better place to witness the physical manifestation of hubris than Yujiapu, Tianjin's planned Manhattan.



 NNT says on Twitter that he has not received a critique so far of this paper he wrote on GMOs that addresses the "core math" of it. A variety of "fallacies" are discussed–"Loch Ness", "Crossing the Road", "Russian Roulette", "Carpenter", etc. etc. In this article, "Risk Expert: GMOs Could Destroy the Global Ecosystem" Taleb writes:

"It has became popular to claim irrationality for GMO and other skepticism on the part of the general public—not realizing that there is in fact an "expert problem" and such skepticism is healthy and even necessary for survival. For instance, in The Rational Animal, the authors pathologize people for not accepting GMOs although "the World Health Organization has never found evidence of ill effects," a standard confusion of evidence of absence and absence of evidence."



 I note that gold miners bullish percent is at zero. Maybe some bankruptcies are forthcoming–IAG? Just recently Dr Greenspan opined that gold was a good investment…then the Fed announcement and the slaughtering of gold shares commenced. Hm.

Pitt T. Maner III writes:

All In Sustaining Costs (AISC) become important. IAG sold a niobium mine so maybe they will be able to weather a year or so with this cash. Perhaps the mining companies with cash, relatively low debt and available credit will be able to buy others and their better prospects on the cheap. 

"IAMGOLD Probability of Bankruptcy":

This will be added to Iamgold's assets to allow the company to boast of $800 million in liquid assets, with an additional $500 million of unused credit facilities to give the company a total of $1.2 billion in available short-term cash.

An area for more research?



 Car Talk was a really fun radio show to listen to on long highway trips. Both of the brothers who did the show were very smart MIT grads with a great sense of humor and a penchant for fun practical jokes on each other. Here is an obituary for the older brother who recently died.

"Tom Magliozzi, One Half of the Jovial Brothers on ‘Car Talk,’ Dies at 77":

By his own account, after graduating from college, Mr. Magliozzi took a conventional path as an engineer until experiencing his "defining moment" after being involved in a close call on the highway. He described the incident in 1999, when the brothers shared a commencement speech at their alma mater. Tom described driving on Route 128 to his job in Foxboro, Mass., in a little MG that "weighed about 50 pounds" when a semi-truck cut him off. Afterward, he thought about how pathetic it would have been if he had died having "spent all my life, that I can remember at least, going to this job, living a life of quiet desperation." "So I pulled up into the parking lot, walked to my boss's office and quit on the spot." His brother chimed in, "Most people would have bought a bigger car."

Ed Stewart writes:

What is interesting is that they made an entire franchise out of something that seems so mundane and unworkable. No planner would have guessed, "this concept will be a hit." It entirely revolved around the talent and humor of the Magliozzi brothers. Isn't that the way most of the best things are? Talented people surprise us with things we enjoy or end up needing that we never would have anticipated. A great functional argument for an open system and individual choice vs. bureaucratic control, excessive tracking and credentialism.



 I thought this article about "How Rebounds Work" was quite fascinating.

And here is an even better link on the same topic with some very interesting graphics: "Where do rebounds go?"

Pitt T. Maner III writes: 

Very nice graphics and analysis.

One of the fundamentals of rebounding used to be that you tried to track your opponent while the ball was in the air to see what direction he was going and then you tried to turn your body at the last possible second in order to "box" him out or put a body on him before he got into the rebounding zone. Wide bodies (Wes Unseld, Malone, Barkley-types, etc) were particularly effective in doing so. It took energy and work effort to do this.

The example with Noah shows him going through uncontested–the defensive players turned their backs too early and lost the opportunity to box him out–it looks rather lazy. To some degree it seems that modern pro basketball players have concentrated on areas of the game or specialized to such an extent that the fundamentals are not practiced and are often found lacking.

A fair number of rebounds are made below the rim so positioning by shorter players can make up for height differences (some of those Princeton-Georgetown matchups demonstrated that).

And the really aggressive guys like Rodman, if they managed their fouls well, and scraped and clawed were often rewarded. Rodman was a master at judging rebound distances and "worming" his way to a rebound through narrow spaces. How he ended up in North Korea I don't know…crazed.

Scott Brooks writes:

Rebounds pretty much go to the opposite side of the hoop from where they are shot. That is not a new discovery.

What a coach should pay attention to therefore is where do shots initiate from. That is the key.

Since most of the world is right handed and since most players move in the direction of their dominate hand (thus keeping their body between the defender and the ball), most shots are going to come from the right side (or the defenses left side).

This bit of knowledge is very important, especially at the high school level or lower (it is still important at the college or higher level as well)…….but how to apply that knowledge…..now there's the rub.

Rebounding is more than just boxing out (which is a lost art nowadays). Rebounding is a team effort. I like my guards and forwards that play the toughest defense to guard the opponents shooters if we're in a man to man defense or to play to the "strong side" if we're in a zone (strong side is the offenses right side/defenses left side). I want my defenders to play the shooters tight so that when they do shoot, they can get a hand up high (the closer you are to the shooter, the higher you hand is relative to the shot), and force the shooter to put a little more arc on the ball than they would have preferred.

A ball with a high arc, more often than not, comes off the rim "soft" i.e. it is rebounded close to the rim and is usually rebounded in the paint, whereas a hard bounce will goes outside the paint to be rebounded away from the rim. Soft bounces allow my center and weak side forward to control the rebound the vast majority of the time, assuming they've properly boxed out.

What about the other players, what are they doing?

My strong side guard and forward are the ones usually defending against the shot. If the shot is taken by the shooting guard (sometimes called the "2 guard"), then the strong side forward chip blocks his man (if he's close) and rushes to the hoop in a sideways motion with his back to the baseline keeping his eye on the man he's defending until he gets close to the rim, then he plants his right foot and pivots on it towards the basket with his left foot and body moving clockwise motion.

My strong side guard defending the opposing shooting guard (2 guard), boxes out the shooting guard at the point of the shot and, if done right, neutralizes him 99% of the time, i.e. he will not get his own rebound and is out of the play unless the his team gets the offensive rebound (which will cause me, as a coach to "verbalize instructions in a loud manner" to my team for allowing an offensive rebound).

So what I have is my center covering the middle of the of the paint, my strong side forward covering the left side of the paint (from the defenders perspective) and I've got my weak side forward (my best rebounder) covering the right side of the paint…..i.e. the spot where the ball is most likely to go……and all of them are violently boxing out the opponents.

That leaves only my weak side guard. What is his job.

He is tasked with covering/preventing quick passes across the top of the key from (the defenses perspective) left to right…..i.e. in this scenario, instead of shooting the ball, the"2 guard" does a quick pass the point guard ("1 Guard") who whips it over to the small forward ("3 forward") who then shots. So my weak side defender has to play with his back to the baseline (basically parallel to the baseline) while the keeping the opposing "3 forward" in front of him. (it's another story for another day of what to do if their "3 forward" moves down to low and has to be passed off to my weakside forward). My weakside guard is, therefore, tasked with keeping pressure on their "3 forward" to stop that quick shot if a the quick pass I just described happened. If he does his job right, the "3 forward" can't get off the quick shot and it allows my defense the 1/2 of a second it needs to switch from (their perspective) left side to right side defense.

Back to the original scenario (ball on left side of the defense in the hands of the "2 guard"…….When the shoot is taken (by the "2 guard") , my weak side guard has to chip block the "3 forward", then roll out for the outlet pass. If done correctly, when he gets the outlet pass he takes a few quick dribbles and looks for our strong side guard…..(remember him).

If my strong side guard has done his job right in boxing out the shooting guard (remember I said the "2 guard" has been neutralized from the play) he's got the inside position on the shooting guard. And if the oppossing point guard (1 guard) on the other team is forced to deal with my weakside guard (who now has the ball) we basically have 2 on 1 fast break occurring.

What does a 2 on 1 fast break have to do with rebounding you say? Well, if you do enough of them, then the opposing team has to assign a man to fall back near center court each time they shot to defend against the fast break which means that I have a 5 on 4 rebounding advantage.

The art of rebounding is a team endeavor. A great rebounder is one who is surrounded by a great supporting cast that simply do their jobs.

Yes, you want your best rebounder on the weakside (forward position). This guy may not be the tallest person out there, but he is the most vicious tenacious meanest SOB on the floor. He is quick and he is instictive and has the ability to multitask…..i.e. watching the opposing players and timing his "boxing out" (that's an entire art that we should discuss another day), while watching the trajectory and velocity and spin on the ball to determine where it is likely to come off the rim.

Heck, my weakside forward is usually the smartest player on the floor. I call him my "Floor General"…..but why I can him that and the job I assign to him is an entire discussion for another day.

I've written about this before, but there is a lot more to the strategy of rebounding than what I've just written here. Heck, I've only discussed the defensive side of the equation…..and I haven't even elaborate (although I have in the past) on the subtle violence and mind games that are associated with great rebounding and stifling defense or even discussed offensive rebounding……maybe I'll write about those another day.



 Here is an impressive animal fact:

A team of researchers working in Namibia has found that elephants are able to detect rain storms from distances as far away as 150 miles. In their paper published in the journal PLOS ONE, the researchers describe how they tracked both elephants and rain over the course of several years and found the elephants were clearly able to detect rain events from great distances and move towards them.



 Something not well in Tokyo.

Pitt T. Maner III writes:

Super Typhoon Vongfong is about 4-5 days out. It's something to keep an eye on to see how it tracks and if the intensity changes downward.

The storm surge could be devastating and winds and rains in the 150 mph range are extremely destructive if they persist and typhoon stays organized near populated areas. 165 plus mph is unreal.

Satellite at present looks like Mitch 1998 in Atlantic.

Strangely it could have an effect in the US by shifting jet stream lower.



 Too many hands on one side of the ship?

Freeze, rain, snow, soil moisture, crops still in the field, next year's crop, silos, quality, hedging, foreign demand, sentiment…There are so many Ag variables to predict. It's complicated, but here is an interesting speculative comment for the Ag followers from Kevin Van Trump's "Current Marketing Thoughts":

There was ZERO "weather-risk" priced into the market, now there are some questions regarding quality and late damage to the crop here in the northern parts of the US, also a few fresh concerns about conditions in Brazil.


We have seen it time and time again the past few years, with the crazy speed of the market and the high frequency players in the game, whenever you get the trade overloaded to one-side or the other severe whiplash can occur in the blink of an eye. Speculators and hedgers alike can NOT rule out a $0.50 to $1.00 rally off the lows ($9.04) in the soybean market. Likewise you can't rule out a $0.25 to $0.50 cent rally off the recent lows in corn ($3.18) or wheat ($4.66).



 Perhaps one for the Department of Deception. Is the following not somewhat akin to moving the line in Las Vegas? Are there not examples of similar activities in other cases? A potential new crime at the millisecond level:

"'Spoofing,' a New Crime With a Catchy Name 'Spoofing,'":

A big hurdle in the "spoofing" case against a high-frequency trading firm is that a jury must decide whether one computer fooling another is a crime, Peter J. Henni…

"The indictment seeks to hold Mr. Coscia liable for trades executed in milliseconds by a computer, including one trade at 4:54 a.m. when he was probably asleep. The spoofing charges may send a chill through the high-frequency trading world because the evidence of fraudulent intent will come from a program that uses rapid-fire orders and does not depend on humans for its execution. So finding that Mr. Coscia engaged in spoofing may come down to a jury deciding whether one computer fooling another is a crime."

Ed Stewart writes: 

The indictment describes how Mr. Coscia's programs would enter small buy or sell orders for future contracts that he wanted to have filled. He then placed large orders on the other side of that trade at a higher or lower price to entice others to enter the market on the belief that the larger order would affect the price. Once the price moved so that his small order was filled, the program canceled the large orders. The program would then do the same transaction in reverse by entering another round of large orders that would move the price up or down to allow for Mr. Coscia to exit the position at a profit.

In other words he gamed other HFT traders who were using order book info to step in front of his large limit orders. As if jumping in front of a large limit order should be a protected activity? I would think non-HFT traders would applaud strategy, as it would increase the cost of stepping in front of orders, as the HFT would never know if it was a "spoof" or not. I see nothing inherently wrong with the strategy indeed it might be correcting a distortion itself.

The fact that this is a crime suggests to me that what is "level" to most is simply what tilts the odds in their favor.



 I found an interesting article about the town near Lookout Mountain and Ruby Falls: "Chatanooga's Gig: How  one city's super fast internet is driving a tech boom"

Like Atlanta they have a very nice aquarium and offer a fun downtown area to visit on the way to hiking in the Smokies. But this attraction of venture capital and entrepreneurship was news to me.

"The city is one of the only places on Earth with internet as fast as 1 gigabit per second – about 50 times faster than the US average. Despite Big Cable's attempt to block the Gig's expansion plans, money keeps flowing into Chattanooga"


"The fibre-optic network uses IntelliRupter PulseClosers, made by S&C Electric, that can reroute power during outages. The University of California at Berkeley estimates that power outages cost the US economy $80bn a year through business disruption with manufacturers stopping their lines and restaurants closing. Chattanooga's share of that loss was about $100m, EPB estimates. The smart grid can detect a fault in milliseconds and route power around problems. Since the system was installed the duration of power outages has been cut in half."



 Joseph Heller invited Puzo and Updike to steeplechase where you get 50 rides for a 0.25. He told them how when he was a boy growing up in Coney Island he'd wait near the finish for the old people to come out, and ask them for their unused rides of the 50 they didn't take. In the current, Puzo went through the revolving barrel and hurt himself and they all sat on a bench and talked about their terrible publishers and agents, and the decline of the book business, and their kids wasted time on television. As they left after a few hours, some kids came up to them. "Hey mister, can I have your tickets?". There were 47 left.

I played raquetball on Sunday at the central park courts, where 53 years ago I won three national tournaments with my father watching. I was good in those days, and the only way I could get a game was to play my opponents for a quarter hitting every shot behind my back, or if they were really good, hitting it through the legs. I challenged some guys to a match, and they told me they would only play me their backhand against my regular game. I jauntily refused and challenged a 70 year old guy to a singles game. He was ahead 11-6 when he hit one to my backhand and I ran to cover it, and for the first time in many tens of thousands of matches, I fell hard on the back of the head. The sound was so great that the players 4 courts over rushed over to see if I had lost consciousness. When I got home, I mistakenly told the perfect wife about it, and she looked at me and said "should we use heroic measures tonight to wake you up if you don't wake up". I said "No, just take the money, and put it in index funds, and marry someone much younger".

Pitt T. Maner III writes: 


Hope your head is OK and you recover quickly. Sure that the doctors on the site have told you to be careful with that type of injury. At 70 you are considered just a kid in Palm Beach…

I have not heard from Mr. George Meegan lately [recent junto speaker and world traveler] but he is in the news in New Zealand.

Tomorrow an anniversary date recognized in New Zealand (where it is already the 18th).

"1983 - British adventurer George Meegan finishes a six-year long walk from the southernmost tip of South America to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska; covering 30,605 kilometers (19,021 miles)."

Thursday, September 18 - World - NZ Herald News



 Two top NFL running backs are in the news.

I wonder if a mental health component will be found to be associated with these cases? Repeated hits to head at RB position? PTSD and concussions… actual physical evidence of brain damage?

Forces are much higher in the NFL (Mass x acceleration) these days — brain matter being pushed back and forth (sloshed) by collision contact at almost all positions over and over in game and at weekly practices– regardless of helmet used and whether its head to head or not… special teams on kickoffs and punts being particularly risky plays.

The Peterson case involves child discipline vs. child abuse issue.



 Elections were held today and votes cast. Reinfieldt by most accounts is a good prime minister and statesman, but paradoxically the lure of change for change's sake appears to be in the works–the pendulum swings and pieces are rearranged on the chess board. A country of 10 million with a certain amount of world-wide influence…

"Sweden's Politics":

Sweden's election: The eight-year itch

The centre-right government of Fredrik Reinfeldt has been a great success, yet voters may well eject it in favour of the Social Democrats

FOR a decade Sweden could plausibly claim to be Europe's most successful economy. Anders Borg, the (formerly pony-tailed) centre-right finance minister since 2006, likes to trot out numbers for his time in office: GDP growth of 12.6%, a rise in gross disposable incomes of almost 20%, a budget moving into surplus and a public debt barely above 40% of GDP. These figures not only outshine Britain and the euro zone; they also eclipse America.



 The hot hand is a topic garnering renewed interest. (Chair has previously mentioned the shortcomings of some of these behavioral studies).

So maybe Alabama-born guard Andrew Toney, a Philadelphia 76er, did have a hot basketball hand–I'd like to think so. It would make a good follow-up interview and book topic.

At any rate, a link to a "hot-handedness" study was found mentioned on Jordan Ellenberg's blog (an Orioles fan by the way and author of a new book entitled How Not to be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking. Under his August 16, 2014 comments Ellenberg writes: "New 'hot hand' paper by Brett Green and Jeffrey Zweibel, about the hot hand for batters in baseball. They say it's there! And they echo a point I make in the book (which I learned from Bob Wardrop) — some of the "no such thing as the hot hand" studies are way too low-power to detect a hot hand of any realistic size."

1. Here is the link to the paper and interesting comments from links found via Brett Green's homepage, Assistant Professor at UC-Berkeley (Haas School of Business).

2. from another article on the topic:

Zwiebel says the earlier researchers were too quick to conclude that the belief in a hot hand was evidence of a cognitive or behavioral mistake. Most likely, what's really at work is not so much a mistake but an "equilibrium adjustment" around the hot-handed player — similar to the kinds of equilibrium adjustments that occur in finance and economics.

The behavioral camp jumps too quickly to the conclusion that almost all sports fans and participants are under a dumb illusion that there are hot hands," Zwiebel says. "They have jumped to that conclusion because it fits their story that everyone is making cognitive mistakes and that these mistakes are extraordinarily pervasive.

3. The existence in basketball of the hot hand was discussed by Harvard researchers at a recent conference and in a Boston Globe article: 

With the Harvard graduates able to know the position of the players on the court, they could see that players with recent success in shooting were more likely to be taking shots from further away, facing tighter defenses, and throwing up more difficult shots. "They were more likely to just jack it up," Ezekowitz said. "Shoot more often."

So the researchers controlled for these variables—and found what players and fans have long believed: The hot hand does exist. At least a little. According to the new research, players enjoying the hot hand are 1.2 to 2.4 percentage points more likely to make the next shot. Not exactly en fuego, but still.



 Dr. Eugster is giving Jack LaLanne a run for his money. I found this article quite entertaining:

"Miracle man: The 94-year-old who will put your fitness regime to shame"

The fact that he started making changes in his mid-80s is quite impressive. He is the new 100m (25.67s) and 200m (58.03s) British champ in the 95 year-old age category per his Twitter feed!

Here are some quotes I found interesting from Dr. Eugster:

…' There are three main techniques to achieving healthy old age, he believes – work, diet and exercise, and of these, number one is work: "Work keeps you healthy. You have to work because it keeps your mind and body active," he says, adding that soon after giving up work on his newsletter at the age of 82, he began to notice a physical decline.

"My mind and body weren't as busy. You must have a purpose in life. If you retire you're a nobody; you make no contribution to society and your health deteriorates," he says.

Retirement, believes Eugster, "is a financial disaster and a health catastrophe." It was never meant to go on as long as it does nowadays, he maintains. The second most important factor in a long and healthy life is nutrition, he says: "What we're eating nowadays is destroying our health. The human race is committing mass suicide by eating too much of the wrong food."

Thirdly, is exercise – take it regularly and make sure it's the kind of exercise that's relevant to your body type, he says. "In old age, no matter how old you are, food and exercise are crucial," says Eugster, adding that he is preparing to publish a book about ageing and, while he hasn't yet decided on a title, he's thinking about calling it, "95 and Loving It!"

He's currently in discussions about the establishment of a fitness training scheme for the elderly. While old age may be associated with problems such as loss of strength, muscle mass, balance or mental agility, Eugster believes these common ailments can be combated with specifically-tailored fitness programmes.

A passionate advocate for training in old age, he believes that the right type of training can be of huge benefit to older people.

Most gyms are targeted at 30-50 year-olds, he says, and don't usually have fitness programmes specifically tailored around problems related to old age. He is now, he says, at the age of 94, considering a potential business opportunity in the fitness coaching sector. Such a training programme for older people would emphasise continuous assessment of their physical strengths and weaknesses and their progress.

Although you may be old, competitive sports keeps both mind and body healthy, he believes. Life is all about challenges, and it's important to always attempt something new, no matter how old you are.

"One should take part in competitive sports at any age – or start a new sport at any age," says Eugster, pointing out that, although he has never run in his life, he is currently preparing for the British Masters Athletics Championships race in Birmingham next August. He will attempt the 100 and 200 metres for men aged 95 and over.

Since no records have yet been set in this age category, Eugster is currently aiming to beat all records set in the lower category, for men aged 90-plus.

And, if you need to be reminded, he himself is living proof of his own adage:

"Anyone's life in advanced years can be dramatically better than they can ever have imagined if they invest in the right type of training."

Stefan Jovanovich writes: 

I hate to even hint at arguing with Pitt, but Dr. Eugster's pitch reads to me very much like an argument against people ever having enough money to do a Donald Eugene Little. This reads very much like an Animal Farm poster: keep people in harness until they drop because it is really better for them.

"If you retire you're a nobody; you make no contribution to society"….

People "retire" so they can take care of their grandchildren, so they can stop being sickened by the physical conditions of their work, so they can go fishing, so they can be free to do something other than what they have been doing.

And who is "society" that it should have the right to demand contributions?



 The past two issues of the Nautilus online science magazine on the general subjects of "Turbulence" and "Wind & Water" have several thought-provoking pieces.

One article on low level toxic exposure caught my attention and will provide grist for the doctors.

Perhaps Victorian sleeping porches and fresh air will come back in vogue.

A couple of quotes follow:

'Miller has spent 30 years hammering out a theory to explain the contemporary surge in perplexing, multi-symptom illnesses—from autism to Gulf War Syndrome—which represent a Kuhnian shift in medicine. She calls her theory "TILT," short for Toxicant Induced Loss of Tolerance. TILT posits that a surprising range of today's most common chronic conditions are linked to daily exposure to very low doses of synthetic chemicals that have been in mass production since World War II. These include organophosphate pesticides, flame-retardants, formaldehyde, benzene, and tens of thousands of other chemicals.'


'However, we can take steps to prevent it. We live 90 percent of our lives indoors, inside homes, offices, and cars. And indoor air is far more polluted than outdoor air. So we can begin with our home and office, by reducing chemicals there. Reduce scented products, reduce or eliminate indoor pesticides. If you're remodeling, you can use no-VOC paints, and tile or wood instead of carpet. Make sure you have good air circulation. Don't be enamored of that "new car" smell—a car a few years old is much healthier. And go outdoors; try to get into nature, even if a city park. Outdoor air is usually better for you.'





 I guess one of my greatest weaknesses is that after 50 years on wall street, I still don't have enough feel for any markets that I can make a trade and feel properly foundationed and backings with it if I don't have back testing and quantification. Perhaps if I could do things based on feel and tai chi I would be a wealthy man. But the Hindu will do what he can do.

I have a new business in case I run into hard times again. While in Vinyl Haven I set myself up at the flee market with a sign by my daughters: "checkers 50 cents a game". I found that like Johnson's there are no owls in Ireland, "there are no checker players in vinyl haven". I only lost 194% on my investment on that one as I had to pay $4.00 to the space not counting the 20 buck bribe paid to the mistress of the flee market.

I had two customers. One was so demure I paid her 0.50 to play me, and the other I reduced the price to 0.25 for the play. I did beat my daughter Kira in a hard fought game however. Anyway, a perfect occupation for a speculator down on his luck in the most boring place in the world if you're not a nautical or lobster personage.

anonymous writes: 

The pieces should be shells and lobster claws vs. sea stones or pine cones to give the game a local flavor. Also, a "learn to play" or "lessons" lead in might work better than pay-per-game. Might end up the talk of the town for the next 50 years.

Pitt T. Maner chimes in: 

 Backgammon holds an interest among some. I learned the basic rules of the game from an Obolensky in Palm Beach–but you have to be very good to make money at it.

An Israeli documentary was made about this fellow, an intuitive player ranked among the best:

"He is committed to backgammon, which is his main source of income—to the extent that he can find wealthy people who want to lose to him in cash-only private games. There are more of these than one might expect, but not a lot. Finding them and hanging on to them is a skill."


"At its heart, backgammon's cruelty resides in the dramatic volatility of the dice. Even a player who builds flawless structures on the board can lose to a novice. The good players simply win more often. As a result, backgammon is often played in marathon sessions that reward physical stamina, patience, and emotional equilibrium. One notable match lasted five days, with both players getting up only for bathroom breaks. The loser fell to the floor."

This is a great New Yorker article about him: "The Chaos of the Dice"

"Falafel (his real name is Matvey Natanzon, but no one calls him that, not even his mother) can make ten thousand dollars in half an hour playing backgammon."



 I've seen this study making the rounds on several websites now as a type of neuroeconomic confirmation of Buffetological principles…

Perhaps procedure might be slightly useful as a means of seeing physical brain improvement by training– such as that found through meditative practices.

"Traders who buy more aggressively based on NAcc signals earn less. High-earning traders have early warning signals in the anterior insular cortex before prices reach a peak, and sell coincidently with that signal, precipitating the crash. These experiments could help understand other cases in which human groups badly miscompute the value of actions or events."

"Neuroeconomists Confirm Warren Buffet's Wisdom":

"Seeing what's going on in people's brains when they are trading suggests that Buffett was right on target," says Colin Camerer, the Robert Kirby Professor of Behavioral Economics at Caltech.

That is because in their experimental markets, Camerer and his colleagues found two distinct types of activity in the brains of participants—one that made a small fraction of participants nervous and prompted them to sell their experimental shares even as prices were on the rise, and another that was much more common and made traders behave in a greedy way, buying aggressively during the bubble and even after the peak. The lucky few who received the early warning signal got out of the market early, ultimately causing the bubble to burst, and earned the most money. The others displayed what former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan called "irrational exuberance" and lost their proverbial shirts.



 I found this article on termite mounds, homeostasis, and especially the constructal law helpful in understanding markets and life.

Pitt T. Maner III writes: 

I found a few more items related to constructal law.

1. I believe Chair would find this website of interest: constructal.org

2. Also Dr. Adrian Bejan's book Design in Nature

In this groundbreaking book, Adrian Bejan takes the recurring patterns in nature—trees, tributaries, air passages, neural networks, and lightning bolts…

3. Also this is a very good Q and A with Dr. Bejan:

Q: In the simplest non-technical terms, what is the Constructal Law?

A: The Constructal Law is my statement that there is a universal tendency (a phenomenon) toward design in nature, in the physics of everything. This tendency occurs because all of nature is composed of flow systems that change and evolve their configurations over time so that they flow more easily, to create greater access to the currents they move. '

4. Here is a Ted Talk by Dr. Bejan on the Constructal Law of Design and Evolution in Nature



 Another very interesting area of research that may lead to important medical benefits in the future is studying comb jellies– a complex organism that is now viewed as coming very early on the evolutionary ladder.

1. "Moroz Lab Research on the Comb Jelly in Nature"

'Comb jellies – a seemingly simple form of marine life — took a radically different path to neural complexity than the rest of the animal kingdom, a finding that could have implications for synthetic and regenerative medicine, new University of Florida research shows.

In an article being published May 21 in the journal Nature, researcher Leonid Moroz and his team decode the genomic blueprints for 10 ctenophore – or comb jelly – species, an analysis that suggests these beautiful sea creatures form the first branch on the animal kingdom's Tree of Life. In a remarkable evolutionary twist, ctenophores independently developed complex organs, neurons, muscles and behaviors that are far more sophisticated than sponges, which previously were viewed as the earliest lineage and do not have neuro-muscular systems.

The findings would reclassify comb jellies, reshaping two centuries of zoological thought, and imply that there are many ways to "make an animal" with neural and muscular systems, Moroz said.'

2. "The ctenophore genome and the evolutionary origins of neural systems" from Nature

"What if we could not only slow the progression of Parkinson's or memory loss in aging, but reverse it?" Moroz asks. "Ctenophores show us that there is more than one design for a complex nervous and muscular organization.

"Nature is much more innovative than we thought."



 A protein, named after the youngest of the Greek "Fates" responsible for spinning the "thread of life", is being studied for its beneficial effects on longevity and cognitive faculties. One wonders what the implications and positive effects of a 6 point or more increase in IQ might be for individuals or societies–a fun thought experiment.

1. "The 3% Solution"

What they found was startling. KL-VS did not curb decline, but it did boost cognitive faculties regardless of a person's age by the equivalent of about six IQ points. If this result, just published in Cell Reports, is confirmed, KL-VS will be the most important genetic agent of non-pathological variation in intelligence yet discovered.

2. A scientific paper on the subject

Whether factors that prolong life can also prevent, delay, or counteract neural dysfunction associated with aging and disease is a critical question with therapeutic implications…



 Have you ever heard of Oklo Nuclear Reactors. It is a very interesting subject.

"2 billion-year-old African nuclear reactor proves that Mother Nature still has a few tricks up her sleeve"

The objects in question are called the Oklo reactors, naturally occurring nuclear reactors named for the West African region of Gabon in which they reside. They've been dead for a very long time, probably over 1.5 billion years, but the evidence of their prior action is unmistakable. Sometime a bit less than 2 billion years ago, and lasting for about 300,000 years, the Oklo reactors held a series of stable nuclear fission reactions.

There has only ever been one natural nuclear reactor found, but study of how it worked, and why, is still informing nuclear decision-making to this very day.

 "Oklo Reactors and Implications for Nuclear Science"

"Unravelling how the geosphere and the biosphere evolved together is one of the most fascinating tasks for modern science. The Oklo natural nuclear reactors, basically formed by cyanobacteria two billion years ago, are yet another example of the surprises to be found in Earth's history. Since their discovery over forty years ago, the reactors have provided a rich source of information on topics as applied as can nuclear wastes be safely stored indefinitely to topics as esoteric as are the forces of physics changing as the Universe ages? "



 A 69 year-old, geochemist/geologist is challenging the current paradigms.

From "Ancient Fossils Suggest Complex Life Evolved on Land"

Evidence from Southwestern deserts suggests that oxygen-breathing organisms arose on land rather than in the seas.

'Over a wilderness campfire the night before our climb to the cave, the soft-spoken Knauth confided that he enjoys challenging the prevailing paradigms in science and plans to keep it up. "In my old age, I am so disappointed that people close their minds and jump on whatever splashy, simplistic bandwagon is in vogue," he said. "But if you start with the rocks and work upward to an interpretation, it often reveals a reality that is not the one in vogue." '


'He is also convinced that multicellular oxygen breathers — the ancestors of modern animals — may well have lived in and fed upon photosynthesizing microbes that were spewing millions of tons of oxygen into the atmosphere. In fact, rather than these Precambrian animals (called metazoans) colonizing land tens of millions of years after the Cambrian explosion of life in the seas, Knauth thinks that the reverse may have occurred; land-based animals crawled into the sea, spawning marine metazoans with shells.'



 This interesting anthropological study is making the internet rounds.

"From Athletes to Couch Potatoes":

"Using Shaw's study of bone rigidity among modern Cambridge University undergraduates, Macintosh suggests that male mobility among earliest farmers (around 7,300 years ago) was, on average, at a level near that of today's student cross-country runners. Within just over 3,000 years, average mobility had dropped to the level of those students rated as sedentary, after which the decline slowed."

'Indeed the hunter-gatherers of 30,000 to 150,00 years ago traveled extremely long distances while hauling all kinds of weight. "They were much stronger than the long-distance runners of today," says Shaw. In a study he published earlier this year, he concluded that "the people back then were monsters by comparison. What you see today is quite pathetic."

Here is the original study.



 I was sent this video about a honey badger taking on 6 lions. I noted a similarity between the way the honey badger reacts to attack. He retreats bitten, backing up with face towards adversary, then counterattacks, retreats for a little, then attacks again and retreat attack again.  Is it general or random?

Ken Drees shares from wikipedia: 

Honey badgers are very intelligent and are known to be capable of using tools. In the 1997 documentary series Land of the Tiger, a honey badger in India was filmed making use of a tool; the animal rolled a log and stood on it to reach a kingfisher fledgling stuck up in the roots coming from the ceiling in an underground cave.

As with other mustelids of relatively large size, such as wolverines and badgers, honey badgers are notorious for their strength, ferocity and toughness. They have been known to savagely and fearlessly attack almost any kind of animal when escape is impossible, reportedly even repelling much larger predators such as lions. Bee stings, porcupine quills, and animal bites rarely penetrate their skin. If horses, cattle, or Cape buffalos intrude upon a ratel's burrow, it will attack them. They are virtually tireless in combat and can wear out much larger animals in physical confrontations. The aversion of most predators toward hunting honey badgers has led to the theory that the countershaded coats of cheetah kittens evolved in imitation of the honey badger's colouration to ward off predators.

Pitt T. Maner III writes: 

 Honey badgers have a very interesting collaborative endeavor with the honey guide bird. It's an amazing partnership. Here is a vid about it: The honey guide bird leads the honey badger.

UPDATE: It's evidently a myth started by an early Swedish naturalist who heard of the behavior from a 2nd-hand source! Similar to the cliff-diving Norwegian lemming movie meme in some respects.

But at least the birds appear to interact at some level with humans on the honey trail and probably are not far behind a marauding honey badger to pick up the crumbs:

"Lies, Damned Lies, and Honey Badgers"

'Claire Spottiswoode, author of the recent honeyguide paper, set me straight. Even though the bird certainly teams up with humans, Spottiswoode said, "There is no persuasive evidence that honeyguides ever guide honey badgers". Cue baffled noises from me, and the faint whimper of broken childhood memories. Spottiswoode continued: "You might have seen the YouTube clip of a honeyguide seemingly guiding a honey badger - I'm afraid that was a set-up with a stuffed honeyguide and tame badger!"'


'The myth of the badger-guiding honeyguide began in 1785 with a man called Anders Sparrman, who had heard the story from local people. He never saw the actual behaviour first-hand. Neither had anyone else. In 1990, three ornithologists – Dean, Siegfried and Macdonald – wrote a paper debunking the honeyguide/honey badger story. In it, they wrote, "Naturalists and biologists have been active in Africa for more than 200 years. During this period, to the best of our knowledge, no biologist or naturalist, amateur or professional, has observed a Greater Honeyguide leading a Honey Badger to a beehive." '

Ken Drees writes:

My sister was in a party hiking in Sumatra, Indonesia some time back that was ambushed by the honey badger. He lay in wait and as soon as the local guide of the group appeared from under a fallen tree at the bottom of a ravine on an established path he swooped. Luckily the guide was quick enough to swing his machete, which had a chunk out of the blade after he caught mr. honey badger's shoulder. My sister was number two behind the guide, ducking under the log at the time of the attack and felt his furry coat on his retreat. The guide was very quick to start hacking a new path through the jungle and organizing the troops to flea since he was certain the honey bear would be back. After a few skipped heartbeats all worked out ok on that day. But it appears from this he's a thinker and from the guide's reaction and concern, the attack retreat attack is possibly not random. 

Jim Sogi writes: 

In The Book of Five Rings one of Musashi Miyamoto's three main strategies is to retreat …attack …retreat…. attack…retreat. It throws the pursuers off balance and separates multiple attackers and allows you the choice of your terrain and setting.



 This professor in my daughter's department at MIT is working on using viruses to build batteries. I found this article about it pretty interesting.

"The DNA of Materials"

Molluscs produce proteins which combine with ions of calcium and carbonate in seawater. This provides the material for them to make two types of crystals, which they assemble into layers to create an immensely strong composite structure.

As [Angela Belcher] looked out of the window one day while wondering about this, her gaze drifted to a periodic table of elements stuck on the wall. If an abalone has within its DNA the ability to code for the proteins needed to gather the materials to construct a shell, would it be possible to tinker with the DNA sequences in other creatures to gather some of the elements on the periodic table? In particular, Dr Belcher asked herself, could creatures build semiconductors like those used in electronic circuits?

Pitt T. Maner III adds: 

The ascidians (sea squirts, tunnicates) ability to concentrate vandium at 100x the level found in current seawater has always been an interesting evolutionary puzzle.

1. Check out the wikipedia article on vanadins

2. Here is some related recent research involving vanadyl compounds used to inhibit gastric cancer cell line.
3) Ascidians provide a fertile ground for studies in the field of natural products. Similar to sponges and bryozoans, many ascidians avoid predation or fouling by producing noxious secondary metabolites [48]–[52]. Because of these properties, numerous species of ascidians may thus be a potential source of new anti-cancer compounds [53], [54]. Trabectedin (earlier known as ecteinascidin-743, commercial name Yondelis®), a marine-derived alkaloid isolated from extracts of Ecteinascidia turbinate, is now being used in treatment of soft-tissue sarcomas [55], [56]. Antimalarial compounds have been isolated from the solitary ascidians Microcosmus helleri, Ascidia sydneiensis and Phallusia nigra [57], and numerous other compounds with anti-cancer, anti-viral and anti-bacterial capabilities are in various clinical trial stages by the pharmaceutical industry. The management and use of these organisms as sources of natural products is dependent, however, on understanding their taxonomy, the integrative basis of biology.




 There are several things to be considered here. First, the aircraft. The Boeing 777 is one of the most reliable aircraft ever built. Only three of the aircraft hulls have been lost:

1. British Airways flight 38 crashed short of the runway at Heathrow on Jan 17, 2008 due to ice crystals in the fuel that clogged a heat exchanger and prevented the engines from delivering thrust at a critical point on the landing approach. This situation only occurred in certain Rolls Royce engines [Trent 800] and has since been resolved by a new design of the engine oil fuel flow heat exchangers and restrictions on the amount of time the aircraft is permitted to operate with fuel temperatures below -10 degrees Celsius. This can safely be disregarded as a possible cause in the Malaysia incident.

2. Last years highly visible Asiana 214 accident at San Francisco was due to pilot error and a failure to maintain proper airspeed on the landing approach — there was nothing wrong with the aircraft.

3. On July 29, 2011 an Egypt Air B777-200ER was destroyed in Cairo when a fire erupted in the cockpit while parked at the gate [Final Report, Egyptian Ministry of Civil Aviation 172 page PDF]. This was attributed to a probable electrical fault or short circuit involving the first officers oxygen mask delivery hose, but the cause was not conclusively proven. It resulted in a a Boeing Alert Service Bulletin that in turn prompted an Airworthiness Directive that "requires replacing the low-pressure oxygen hoses with non-conductive low-pressure oxygen hoses in the flight compartment." [2011-NM-279-AD 8 page pdf]

The Cairo incident is interesting in that a cockpit fire can cause catastrophic damage and result in the loss of the aircraft, see Swissair Flight 111. A cockpit fire could reasonably prevent the flight crew from communicating their situation with air traffic control especially if it was fed by oxygen and required prompt attention from both pilots.

There was some speculation about an electrical failure which may have been the cause of the disappearance as well as the cessation of communications. I seriously doubt this however, as the B777 is equipped with a RAM Air Turbine to generate sufficient power to run essential systems in the event of such a failure.

Also, it is possible that the aircraft, like Air France 447, was transmitting system diagnostic data to the airline (not air traffic control) via ACARS  (which could provide clues) but if this information exists, we haven't heard about it yet.

In this article in today's New York Times  Malaysian authorities have stated that radar data may indicate that the flight had "possibly attempted to turn back". As a radar controller, and a witness to the events of 9/11, I can state that if there is radar data available, even if the aircraft's transponder was shut off or disabled, one can make reasonable assumptions by linking any strong primary targets to the last beacon targets if they are consistent with the track or with the turn characteristics of that type aircraft at it's last known altitude and speed. This is exactly what air traffic control did when the transponders aboard American 11 were turned off. There were strong primary radar returns that began where the beacon returns ceased and they were certain that they were looking at American 11 as it turned south down the Hudson river and when it disappeared over Manhattan.

As we don't have access to any radar data that the Malaysians may have, we cannot make any statements about it other than what we hear from them.

If there was a change in course this could imply many things — the crew was distracted by something like a fire or severe problem with the aircraft or possibly a cockpit intrusion. The fact that nothing was communicated to air traffic controllers could also imply that the crew was either too busy and therefore unable to communicate or they were prevented from communicating by intruders.

It is certainly possible that the aircraft was hijacked. A loss of transponder returns would occur if hijackers were savvy enough to turn the transponder off and a change in course would be consistent with a hijacking. This aircraft was fueled for a long flight and if the aircraft was indeed taken by force, there is no telling how far or where they might have taken it.

There is also the possibility of some sort of catastrophic explosion. Possibly a bomb or dangerous or poorly stowed cargo. There are many precedents for cargo fires, Value Jet 592 comes to mind as does Federal Express 1406 [Accident Report, 147 page pdf] (This flight may be of particular interest to DailySpec readers as it was carrying,I am told by persons directly involved, on the order of 100 million dollars in federal reserve notes on their way to Boston to be taken out of circulation and destroyed.)

There has also been speculation of a possible crash/suicide by one of the pilots.

This too is not unprecedented, Silk Air 185, Egypt Air 990, and most recently LAM Mozambique 470 are all suspected to be murder-suicides by members of the flight crew.

Any of these scenarios may prove true. The search area is very, very large and if the aircraft went down in the water, it may take a long time to find debris. There should definitely be some identifiable debris — even if the aircraft exploded. Strangely, it may prove easier to find evidence of a crash in the sea than one on land. Floating debris will probably persist on the surface for some time, whereas a crash site in remote territory may be amazingly difficult to locate, especially if their was no fire or if the aircraft came down in small pieces. If this happened over dense jungle or forest, there is very little chance that it will be detected from the air.

I am just as anxious as the next person to know what truly happened. This will take some time, investigations cannot be rushed.

Pitt T. Maner III writes: 

There is an attempt to crowdsource the satellite imagery in order to remotely sense objects that might be related to the crash zone.

I have not seen this site before. In the oil industry "lineament analysis" of aerial and satellite imagery was used to try to find surface features that might be associated with potential subsurface geological structures.

So it is like looking for a small, anomalous linear feature–"needle in a haystack" as they say. Problem being that there are many linear features caused by breaking ocean waves, seafloor substrate, clouds, shadows and such.

It seems a computer program could also look for aligned pixels or anomalies and at multiple bandwidths.



 I read this article today and wondered if it will have applications in the financial sphere.

"Perjurers and fake reviews train software to spot lies":

LAWYERS and judges use skill and instinct to sense who might be lying in court. Soon they may be able to rely on a computer, too.

An AI system trained on false statements is highly accurate at spotting deceptive language in written or spoken testimony. It can also be used to weed out fake online reviews of books, hotels and restaurants."

Also, I found this new book on poker tells that also may be of interest: Reading Poker Tells

The poker tell is one of the most romanticized ideas in gambling, the notion that there is a code that will tell you everything about your opponent's hand just waiting to be unlocked. In reality, tells are usually more subtle than they are in the movies, but that doesn't mean there aren't some big, honkin' obvious ones. Here are some of the most transparent ones to ever make it onto television, and how to spot (or avoid making) them yourself. 

And here is the author's Twitter feed.



 Las Vegas is a very interesting city to visit and a pleasant surprise, outside of the gambling establishment and Strip areas. There are very reasonable prices for rooms and buffets and surrounded by many natural wonders within a day's reach.

Various cons, of course, are on display 24/7. While leaving the parking area I was approached by a vehicle with two men who wanted to offer me a fantastic deal on a 3-carat diamond that had recently come into their possession. "No thank you", I said and they quickly moved on without comment. A limo driver noted later that he had had an offer from a rich, turbaned man for his car (a red Cadillac) many years ago with payment to be made in 4 gold bricks. The driver checked two of the bricks with the local pawn shop and fortunately determined that they were worthless.

The city has its share of down and out transients but all in all the city vibe is positive and the energy associated with the arrival of NASCAR week and a huge display of construction-related equipment (excavators, trackhoes, platform lifts, various concrete pump trucks, etc. in the convention center–all supersized) was palpable.

A very spectacular, geologic structure, the Keystone thrust fault is located just west of town in the Red Rock Canyon Natural Conservation area. Hiking through this beautiful area with crossbedded ("herring bone") Aztec sandstone and red, Jurassic Kayenta Fm. One sees the many adaptations that plants and animals have evolved to collect and conserve water that comes during infrequent rains– and often in the form of raging, flash floods.

Fossils, despite promising intel from locals, however, are not easily found and only a few, small crinoid plates were noted during a long walk over a fossiliferous ridge south of the main park along horse and burro trails. It's a tricky business when you are walking along the Permio-Triassic extinction boundary!

A good museum on crime (as in "does not pay") is located downtown and aptly called the Mob Museum and graphically shows the typical end result of the "gangsta" lifestyle. Several hours did not do justice to the displays.

I was interested that Estes Kefauver held a session in the early 50s of his crime in America investigating committee (broadcast on national TV) in the same Mob Museum building. My grandfather once worked as a floor manager during one of Kefauver's presidential bids– and also for baseball commissioner, "Happy" Chandler in similar vein on other occasion.

The National Atomic Testing Museum was quite fascinating to visit although I did not pay the extra fee for the Alien Area 51 exhibit and focused instead on the historical displays of atomic and hydrogen bomb development. Trinitite was on sale in the gift shop but high prices for a tiny piece of fused glass held little appeal.

Skiing is available nearby and quite fun even for a cautious, green run specialist like me (the resort gives a free lesson for warmup purposes that helps the novice get reacquainted with skis)  And of course, the Death Valley area, is a mere 1.5 hour drive away and holds such unusual stops as Marta Becket's Amaragosa Opera House   and fantastic variegated colors at Zabriskie point.

Well I had to put $20 on the Florida basketball team (giving away a ridiculous 12 points to LSU) and by sheer luck (with perhaps a touch of insight about season-ending, home court propensity) walked away with $18.50 (after vig deduction) in order to leave Vegas, this time at least, a winner on all accounts.

Stick to the natural wonders, folklore and history and you will always win out West.



 The young middle bridge to Palm Beach is now lit in pink and red lighting at night for the Komen charity and Valentine's. It has an interesting history summarized as:

1) Spend oodles of money to restore the old bridge superstructure only to send divers down and find that the footings and supports were rotting from attack by marine organisms.
2) Build a temporary bridge by pile driving casing into the intracoastal sediments until bedrock was reached. Tremendous noise for months
3) Demolish old bridge.
4) Build new bridge.
5) Remove and demolish temporary bridge

Ah, yes, "lessons learned" and "your tax dollars at work". Attached is an interesting warning sign on the bridge. Those waiting for advice, signals and divinations from the sages, oracles, and other prophets take heed at the message. (it's real purpose is to prevent accidents around pinch points as the bridge is raised and lowered and to prevent interference with bridge tender operations).



 A good article (for Valentine's Day) on how a 900-year old rune inscription was deciphered that read "kiss me".

'Why did Vikings sometimes use codes when they wrote in runes? Were the messages secret, or did they have other reasons for encrypting their runic texts? Researchers still don't know for sure.

But Runologist K. Jonas Nordby thinks he has made progress toward an answer. He has managed to crack a code called jötunvillur, which has baffled linguists and historians for years.

His discovery can help researchers understand the purpose behind the mystery codes. "It's like solving a riddle," says Nordby.

"After a while I started to see a pattern in what appeared to be meaningless combinations of runes," he says. '



 I'm feeling inspired today by the camouflaging ability of the cuttlefish.

The cuttlefish uses an ingenious approach to materials composition and structure, one that we have never employed in our engineered displays," said coauthor Evelyn Hu, Tarr-Coyne Professor of Applied Physics and of Electrical Engineering at SEAS. "It is extremely challenging for us to replicate the mechanisms that the cuttlefish uses. For example, we cannot yet engineer materials that have the elasticity to expand 500 times in surface area. And were we able to do that, the richness of color of the expanded and unexpanded material would be dramatically different. Think of stretching and shrinking a balloon. The cuttlefish may have found a way to compensate for this change in richness of color by being an 'active' light emitter (fluorescent), not simply modulating light through passive reflection.


'Parker is an Army reservist who completed two tours of duty in Afghanistan, so using the cuttlefish to find a biologically inspired design for new types of military camouflage carries special meaning for him. Poor camouflage patterns can cost lives on the battlefield.

"Throughout history, people have dreamed of having an 'invisible suit,'" Parker said. "Nature solved that problem, and now it's up to us to replicate this genius, so, like the cuttlefish, we can avoid our predators."

"In Search of Nature's Camouflage"

Chris Tucker writes:

This 5 minute video has astounding footage of cuttlefish, octopi and squid blending into their environments.

The octopus footage at the end is particularly amazing. But I thought the squid was fascinating as it kept its warm cuddly colors on the side of his body that faced the female and the other side of his body colored to warn off other males and it flips as he swims to her other side. It's definitely worth taking the time to watch.

"Ted Talk: David Gallo Shows Underwater Astonishments"



 I wonder if the new technology 4D Geoseis would have applications in other parts of the world and if rights can be obtained that might make it useful as a business idea. For instance, in South Florida I know of a underground utility search company that uses radar, metal detectors, and other devices to look for buried lines before you dig (this is normally a free service from the individual utility companies for the lines leading into your property) on your property that used to charge about $700/day to send a trained technician and equipment to your site.

In the middle of Florida there are several companies that locate sinkholes or potential sinkholes (ie. Karst solution features) under properties and charge significant fees.

So a service that delineates potential fracture zones in high definition before a building or structure is constructed would seem to be very useful or perhaps information that insurance companies would like to know in advance.

As a general analogy to markets one might ask about or think of the potential fault zones that could "reactivate" and cause seismic shifts that have been inactive and buried for many years.

"Hollywood developments straddle earthquake fault, new maps show"

Hollywood building



Here is a Periodic Table of Asset Classes and Yearly Returns. It needs updating for 2013, but it's interesting to see how the Emerging Markets box moves from worst to best during several years (like Lithium, Li, volatile when exposed to air or water) or stays near the bottom (1994-1998) or top (2002-2007) over an extended time period.

Perhaps further detail would be useful to break out individual countries and sub-categories and stocks driving index returns and to make chart more interactive.

1. Callan Periodic Table of Investment Returns

2. Lithium



 My sun loving family has just completed its 13th RV school break drive out to Disney! As always, there was another family coming with us from NYC, but this time was different, thanks to emergence of TravelPony start-up in an unmistakably competitive cyber-travel industry. TravelPony says that billions are spent daily by the industry on advertising, but that they're a rebel who pays their customer direct for cyber referrals, to foster a word-of-mouth pyramid.

I'll share with the list what I did: I bid on a smaller RV this time to transport to FL, thus improving my fuel-economy by a third (10mpg vs 7mpg over the 1100-mile one-way). Additionally, AMEX had a tremendous 20% off gas just to sync your CC via twitter and enroll in BP award offer, which paid back $5 on every $25 fill-up thru 12/31/13. So all I had to do to fill my 55-gallon tank in VA and SC at $3.039 regular pump was to replace the nozzle 4-5 times, registering separate $25.01, $25.02, $25.03, $25.04, $25.05 AMEX charges. Mind you that Blue Cash card stacks 3% cash-back on top, and also enrollment in the regular BP program knocks further 10 cents/gallon: the secret to any TRUE deal is necessarily stackable discounts!

So my fuel bill this time was handily downsized, but now (with a 3-bed RV vs. our usual 4-bed RV) I had to lodge the guest family in Disney proximity — and that's where Travel Pony trotted in. I did this:

1. Have my guest family email their Topcashback.com referral link to my email addresses, so they would earn $15 Paypal cash for EACH of my Topcashback.com email address that spends it's way to an at least a $12 cash back reward.

2. Log into Topcashback.com and click thru to TravelPony for 4-10% cash back on hotel/taxes spend. Once travelpony site opens in separate window, replace it with my referral , where I get $25 travelpony spend credit for the first purchase that every referred email account completes.

3. As every email account Signs Up for a travelpony account through my link, they will each instantly get a $35 spend credit into each email-based account they create. I also provide them discount code VIPONY2013 for 10% off of the already competitive Travelpony hotel rates (which are 10-20% below Expedia, Travelocity, Priceline, Orbitz, hotel.com, booking.com and such to start with).

4. TravelPony listed named (not anonymous) three-star resorts in Disney area at $29-45 double queen room! With a few practiced clicks thru, one email account at a time and one room at a time, I managed to string up effectively an entire week of complimentary stays: just utilizing the initial $35 per travelpony email account credits, my own $25 travelpony referral credits, topcashback percentage, Topcashback $15 per account referral cash and cashback on CC programs. I'm always available for any travel question, and we are looking forward to Feb 15-24 President Week break, followed by Spring Break April 11-22.

Orlando weather was a real treat this Xmas: in every resort, we actually opted for non-heated pool+jacuzzi combination, avoiding the more crowded heated pools. Happy New Year everyone!



 American Scientist has a recent article on The Science of Seaweed. It is behind a paywall but it has an excerpt:

"The macroalgae collectively known as seaweeds are photosynthetic marine organisms that historically have enriched human beings ecologically, industrially, medicinally, nutritionally, gastronomically, and culturally. Excerpts from Ole G. Mouritsen's latest book sample these many benefits, showing the range of Mouritsen's self-confessed obsession with what began for him as a culinary delight. The biology and chemistry of these marine macroalgae is narrated with spotlights on Victorians' beachcombing and pressing specimens in England, the fascinating discovery of the red alga Porphyra's life cycle, Mouritsen's lone sojourn to the algae treasure trove hidden in the Natural History Museum of London, and a world-class chef's irresistible concoction of seaweed-flavored ice cream. "

But I see the entire, very interesting article at the following link that mentions that seaweed contains minerals in an abundance an order of magnitude higher than terrestrial plants.

Here is Dr. Mouritsen's new Seaweed cookbook . In it he proposes a new term: "gastrophysics"!



 There should be a study of whether time outs when a team is winning is better than time outs when a team is losing. Take basketball for example. Many spurts come with non-percentage and lucky threes in the minute by minutes of a game and between games. Often a team will win big with threes in one game and then lose big the next with the same strategy. Take the worst player like Smith. He won a few games at the beginning of last season and then lost dozens more with the same non-percentage play at the end. This compounded of course with his bad character— how do teammates let a player get away with partying late in the night before a play-off? And how does a persons' percentage on risky shots drop near the crucial ends of a game or playoffs when the adversaries pay it much closer and tougher?

Of course, this relates to markets. The time to quit is when you're way ahead not, when you're way behind. Take Jeff as an example. After creating untold profits with his trifecta on the grains last year, he's been quiet. Not only because of the illness in his family. But because he knows about ever changing cycles. And he knows that at Vegas, everyone has a stop loss when they lose too much. But never a stop gain when they make too much.

Steve Ellison adds: 

In last night's hockey game between the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks, Canucks coach John Tortorella called time out early in the second period immediately after the Bruins scored to tie the game, 1-1 (a Canucks defenseman muffed a pass back, and a Bruins player snatched the puck and scored on a breakaway). He was visibly angry and shouting at his players during the time out. Whether by coincidence or not, the Canucks scored within minutes to retake the lead and never looked back as they eventually won, 6-2:

"'There was a lot of emotion. He just wanted the boys to get going,' said Canucks winger David Booth of Tortorella's impassioned words early in the second." 

anonymous writes: 

 For what it's worth, this is a brief exploration of short and mid-term timeout effects on basketball scoring according to situational variable.


The aim of this study was to identify the effects of timeouts on Basketball teams' performance differences, as measured by points scored by the team that calls a timeout and points scored by the opponent team according to game location, the quality of the opponent and the game quarter. Sixty games were analysed using the play-by-play game-related statistics from the Asociación de Clubes de Baloncesto (ACB) League in Spain (2009–2010 season).

For each timeout, the points scored in the previous and post 3, 5 and 10 ball possessions were registered for the teams that called the timeout and for the opponents (nC6 and nB7, n22 andn19, n2 and n0 for 3, 5 and 10 ball possessions, respectively).

For the teams that called the timeout, the results reflected positive effects on points scored, with increases of 1.59, 2.10 and 2.29 points during the period within the third, fifth and tenth timeout ball possessions.

For the teams that have not called the timeout, the results identified timeout negative effects in points scored, during the period within the third and fifth ball possessions (decreases in points scored of 1.59 and 1.77, respectively).

Unexpectedly, the situational variables had little or no effects on points scored, which opens up this important topic for further studies and discussion.

Pitt T. Maner III adds: 

Time Outs in pro basketball are thought to favor the defense, allowing time to get set and also introducing the inbound play (and the potential for a steal). But as the writer of the following article notes there are lots of variables to consider (and you may want to call a TO quickly if Smith is dribbling down court on a 1 on 4 break).

Further testing may be needed. A couple of quotes:

"Call Time-Out? Not So Fast, Pro Coaches"

Said Stotts: "One thing I think is very difficult for basketball in comparison to football and baseball is those two sports have static events. There's an at-bat and something happens on that at-bat and you can quantify each at-bat and same thing with football with, even though there's 11 players on the field, you have a down and yardage each time and it's a very static event. Basketball is a free-flowing, with different matchups and different set of circumstances, perhaps every time down the floor."


'By utilizing play-by-play data from each game of the 2012-13 NBA season
(as well as computer skills far beyond my capabilities), it is possible
to determine what effect "prior events" have on a team's subsequent
shooting percentage. The excellent site NBAwowy.comhas this data for
each individual team. Aggregating all of this data allows one to draw
some very interesting conclusions league-wide, based on a sample of over
200,000 possessions throughout the season. At first blush, one
conclusion immediately leaped off the spreadsheet before any other:
Coaches should call timeout much less often after a change of



 From the hallowed halls…but probably not limited to them these days. Perhaps related to the perceived importance of not upsetting the confidence of gifted students? Grade plunge protection? Grist for the academics:

"A little bird has told me that the most frequently given grade at Harvard College right now is an A-," Mansfield said during the meeting's question period. "If this is true or nearly true, it represents a failure on the part of this faculty and its leadership to maintain our academic standards."

Harris then stood and looked towards FAS Dean Michael D. Smith in hesitation.

"I can answer the question, if you want me to." Harris said. "The median grade in Harvard College is indeed an A-. The most frequently awarded grade in Harvard College is actually a straight A."


Richard Owen writes: 

This is an interesting phenomenon. In the UK, the current coalition have started to engineer grade deflation for pre-uni qualification. It seems somewhat unfair to those at the inflexion point. Perhaps instead grades should be given on a continuously rising index number, so just like money, it debases but still acts as a reasonable measure.

I do not know the reality, but given that at universities like Oxford (certainly pre-WW1) it was standard practice to arrange a place for your son or daughter and that a typist could be hired to write your final papers, the idea that standards have always been nosebleedingly high doesn't seem right. Indeed, the intake quality is probably as high as ever, given the internationalisation of educational institutions. 

Stefan Jovanovich writes: 

 As Richard knows, in the 19th century even faculty positions were allocated by social rank. His idea about an index is a marvelous suggestion; perhaps there could be a "mixed" educational economy in which people were allowed to buy grades or at least grade insurance and the underprivileged could get "extra" grades.

What is certain is that the schools will not allow anyone to set standard examinations. It would sabotage compulsory education (which now includes college attendance for anyone wanting a civil service or corporate job) if there were uniform measures of skills for which anyone could take tests and get scores.

James Bower writes: 

In graduate school there was a strict 3.25 curve for all courses. It was skewed (approx 30%, 50%, 15%, 5% other), but still there were only so many A's available. You would think teachers would/should create enough difficulty to create a wider distribution of outcomes.

Victor Niederhoffer writes: 

It is interesting to note that the last thing Artie did, the day before he died was to grade all the exams of his class, and give them all A's. Usually he only gave 85% of his class A's. What's so terrible about giving an A? The kid took the class, or played the piano or great music. It's beautiful. 



 In the September 5th, 2013 issue of nature, they have a nice article reviewing Batesian Mimicry, the kind where harmless and very good to eat butterflies mimic the appearance of poisonous ones to avoid being eaten. I have often pointed out that all the forms of deception that appear in nature have their counterparts in markets, and the study of such deception is one of the most useful things for the market operator to master. The nature article points out that that many microorganisms produce proteins that mimic the "form and function of host proteins to counter immune defenses." Pictures of innocuous bacteria and deadly viruses that appear identical accompany the article. They conclude: "it is exciting to consider how Bates's observations of rainforest butterflies might help to inform our understanding of infectious disease today". It is exciting to consider how the study of microscopic deception in the tick by tick prices might inform our understanding of deception in the larger spheres so endemic to market moves.

The same issue of Nature has such a loathsome article about plate tectonics saying that it shows that government funding is necessary for all scientific achievement, and that women and socialists made the key contribution to the spreading of the ocean floor and the reversals of magnetic polarity that led to plate tectonics, and that this same alliance is necessary for us to appreciate global warming that I wanted to throw my copy of nature out the window, and I did.

Pitt T. Maner III writes: 

Thank you, Vic. Here is an illustration from the issue you noted which displays the mimicry seen at the molecular level. Pretty amazing. And here is a cute one from the website of one of the authors.

keep looking »


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