Jun

8

 The Education and History of the Racquetball Swing

by Bo Keeley and Bo Champagne

Let’s begin with individuality. There are no exact championship motions for everyone. Ax-wielding Abraham Lincoln has the first and last word on strokes, ‘You can please some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not please all of the people all of the time.’

There are no model strokes, only model players.

The more you watch racquetball — especially the pros — the more you come to realize that no two players strike the ball exactly alike. The conclusion should be that there is no single correct way to hit a racquetball. You will limit yourself unless examining the history of Model Strokes from day one to present.

In the beginning, 1949, Joe Sobek invented racquetball, called Paddle Rackets, with a sawed off tennis racket in a winter handball court, and the handful of players used a stiff wrist Tennis Stroke for a control game of passes, kills and lobs.

The Handball Swing supplanted and was superior to the tennis allowing a low contact and wristy underhand or three-quarter underhand for an attacking game, and this remained the style throughout the ‘50’s.

 By the end of the ‘60’s the Paddle Racket Stroke per the sport name prevailed using a more sidearm pitch, contact off the lead foot, and natural followthrough. The first national champs Bill Schultz, whom I watched, and Bill Schmidtke, whom I played often, offered two of the best forehands and worst backhands the game has known for national champs. This ‘sword and shield’ was typical of the era and there were few ceiling shots.

The San Diego Stroke from 1969-’71 was pioneered by Carl Loveday, Bud Muehleisen and Charley Brumfield, all cross-over champs from badminton and paddleball, that improved on the old Paddle Racket Stroke with the first studied and controlled swing that became the standard. The stroke they taught themselves on the first ever private Pacific Paddleball Association court was dissected frame-by-frame and puttered with each. Muehleisen taught me to teach in clinics to transfer to the ball two raw sources of energy: the weight transfer from rear to front foot, and the wrist snap. He demonstrated each, and in synergy, by hitting initial shots with only the weight transfer at 50mph, only the wrist snap at 30mph, and combined them for 90mph.

The Michigan Stroke evolved parallel to the San Diego one, and was dubbed the ‘farm implement stroke’ to honor the state inventors and champions, and describes a powerful plowed flat and tireless action with an abbreviated backswing that geared at the back with a wrist cock, short down stroke, with enhanced wrist snap for in-spin. This is the stroke I used with one secret tinker to win multiple paddleball and racquetball championships. Finding myself on crutches one month after an accident, I took one into the court and learned to kill the ball from everywhere on the court from an absolute upright position. The contact was between the knee cast and chest to defy the sacred principal of contacting killshots as low and close to the floor as possible. I threw away the crutches and retained that trademark upright disguise of kills that appeared off the racquet as passes. The Michigan Stroke overwhelmed the San Diego classic because as the ball livened in the early ‘70’s it offered a quicker set with the shortened backswing, and a faster downswing to rewind for the next shot.

The St. Louis Stroke at once replaced the Michigan in the hands of a mid-west contingent who invaded San Diego from 1971-4. The spearhead was 15-year old Steve Serot who made the semi’s of the inaugural 1971 National Singles Invitational that was the first true national tournament because all the top players participated via previously unheard of comped plane fares. The free-wheeling swings of Serot, then Marty Hogan, Jerry Hilecher, Ben Colton, Jerry Zuckerman and a few others who played summers at the St. Louis JCC before relocating in San Diego, put the first bang in the game. Their look-alike strokes surpassed all previous with a wider arc backswing and follow-through, strong wrist snap, and for the first time pounded rather than pushed the ball. These were the first players to hit the ball in the 120mph range as clocked on radar.

The stage was set in ’74 for the most unorthodox and influential Marty Hogan Power Stroke that was so superior in a deep contact, with an amplified force via body coil albeit less accuracy, that it engendered Power Racquetball and no instruction could sell during the remainder of the decade without the phrase. The reform beside a deep contact was a shift from the pioneer weight transfer from rear to front foot, to instead a body coil like a golfer, and in fact the analogy of a golf swing was applied to the backhand. Yet a key element was missing. Marty and I were housemates and competitors that allowed a study that technically he didn’t know how he hit what no one else could. It was finally exacted as a ‘bullwhip crack’ like a towel snap that may double head-speed at the instant of contact. In the end, everyone hit it.

 The Hogan stroke prevailed through 1983 when the incumbent champs with new big head racquets and often one-grip forehand and backhand started a Fairgrounds’ Hammer Swing. By tournament osmosis nearly every pro tweaked Hogan’s power swing of deep coil and contact to a compact version for more swing control to hit the target. This stroke was the utility through the mid-90’s.

The Bow-and-Arrow Stroke was first seen in the mid-90’s that is utilized by many present elite. It was perfectly described by Dave Peck who credits Bud Muehleisen to almost come full circle in the history. Peck draws the hitting arm back as if drawing an arrow in a bow, the arm is parallel with the floor, it rests a split second at the top with a crooked elbow, descending with a short loop to pound the ball very hard and accurately. The beauty is an absolute flat backswing to ensure with a tiny loop a mirror downswing that propels the ball accuracy to a bottom board across the front wall. If the ball is hit too early, it’s a flat rollout to the left corner for a righty, and if it’s hit late it’s a flat rollout to the right. If ever there is a model power stroke to start a beginning player with fast progress in strength and accuracy, this is it. That’s why it’s the sport standard.

Metaphorically then, the model racquetball stroke has gone from a tennis swing, to roundhouse handball, baseball pitch, farm implement, push broom, wristy flyswatter, fairgrounds’ hammer, bullwhip, to bow-and-arrow… and who knows what’s next?

The point is that the Model Stroke throughout history is a symbiosis of strokes. It depends on the equipment, and in part on the player’s physiotype and personality. I would say to stand on the shoulders of the champs one-at-a-time who designed the Model Stroke for an epoch that hundreds of thousands copied, and create your own.

Jun

7

 This morning for the first time drank fresh, raw, warm goat's milk.

We live in an area of small ranches, where the caretaker for the neighbor across the street keeps a small herd of goats — including milkers. A visiting relative from Moscow was fascinated — as Russian belief is that goat's milk is "verry good for you".

We fed the goats recently. One is a large black one-horned goat that Inessa named "Old Woman", because she looks haggard, has a droopy udder, and when we feed she butts the others away and gets most of the carrots — once butting so hard she sent a juvenile tumbling head over tail.

Old Woman is big and tough but not brilliant. When you try to feed other goats she quickly knocks them away: goats have horizontal pupils to increase their lateral depth of field, so they can watch for predators as well as competitors for food. Eventually I out-smarted her, and learned to hold onto a carrot through the fence and make her chew it– distracting her while Inessa fed the more demure ladies.

This morning on my run I asked the care-taker, Victor, if we could have some goat milk. He milks daily — drinking some himself and sharing with his constant companion mutt Zapato. He happily obliged and we finally got something back from Old Woman. He knelt next to her and pinned her hind leg in the crook of his bent knee. He slapped her udder several times to bring down the milk– mimicking what the kids do before nursing. In about 7 minutes he milked about 1.5 quarts into my plastic container, and I jogged the warm foamy jug up to the house.

They recommend goat's milk be pasteurized but Inessa insisted it be drunk raw. So we filtered it through gauze and gave it a try. Mild milk - very good, actually. A little sweeter and richer than non-fat cow's milk I'm used to.

Driving to work I noticed the udder drivers along side me. How funny they were with their shiny embellished vehicles and coiffed hair, determined and headed toward important appointments of a higher nature– while I rode contentedly digesting the friendly secretions of another animal.

Jun

7

International Paper (IP +3.34%) said it would pay $30.60 a share for all of Temple - Inland's (TIN +42.36%) 108 million shares outstanding. The deal represents a 46% premium to Temple-Inland's closing stock price of $21.01 Monday.

Just when it looks like the markets are doomed, companies pay a high price to acquire their cohorts, which we have all seen before in bull mania past. Yet how common has it ever been to spend so much, and that the acquirers stocks goes up as well as the company purchased?

That doesn't seem bearish for stocks.

Jun

6

 While watching the Giants struggle this afternoon to get a single base hit, I amused myself by reviewing the prices of California real estate since I arrived here in 1972. I used the data series for the "median priced single family home". To index the prices I used tuition years– the cost of a full-year (2 semesters or 4 quarters) at a University of California campus.

NOTE: the calculation does not involve living expenses, books and other costs, only the official tuition rates.

Here is the result:

1975 - 34
1980 - 82
1985 - 40
1990 - 50
1995 - 13
2000 - 22
2005 - 24
2011 - 7

The standard family of 4 can now spend less money to buy an average house than it will spend to send the 2 children to a college in the UC system.

 

Jun

6

 Today we in China had an athletic breakthrough. Since geography appears to be important in college sports, one wonders if geography has a similar effect in markets.

As a point of reference, stocks from Texas did 1% per year better under Bush than non Texas stocks in a quick study we did. If this is so, what are the key geographies? Chicago?– commodities seem to be doing well and if swaps move to the exchange– it will be like manna from heaven for Chicago at NYC expense.

Does the difference between the Bulls and Knicks, Bears and Giants, etc. portend anything?

Jun

6

 Not to be overly curmudgeonly ( and I do donate) but donation-seeking and donation "marketing" seems to be rising to a crescendo.

The supermarket asks every time if you would like to donate $1 to the cause of the week — the check out ladies give a sour look if you do not comply. Stands for various groups are often positioned on both exits of the store when you leave.

The drugstore asks if you want to donate after you swipe your credit card. Numerous mailers clog the mailbox asking for donations, many with pictures of children with birth defects in foreign. Veterans group supporters work the stop lights located at the end of the middle bridge to Palm Beach where they shake donation cans at the wealthy leaving the island. Electric bills have blocks to donate money to help the poor. Online registration for Florida auto tags and license renewal have long block lists for local causes that you can put on your credit card.

At each major earthquake or crises the Red Cross steps up the disaster relief requests and ad campaigns.

The handicapped have approached in major shopping store aisles and one feels obligated to help or risk feeling bad for the rest of the day.

One is handed the feeling that society will soon collapse without higher taxes and ever more donations.

Perhaps there should be a "Donation Nation" short movie where the lead character is compelled to pay at least a dollar every time he is asked or pay the maximum donation requested. Bankruptcy would occur at 6 months or sooner.

The numbing effects of Donation Overload are probably more easily overcome by less aggressive, softer selling approaches.

Jun

6

 Ed.: the June 4, 2011 edition of Barron's contained a review of Malkiel's book A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Victor Niederhoffer.

The review is entitled "A Classic That Still Resonates".

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Jun

5

Right on cue the market lifts on Federer's victory….

Jun

3

Presumably the Tues move up and the Wed move down in SP were triggered by fixed speculators with systems to buy the turn of the month.

Alston Mabry writes:

Well, you had the last day of the month a Tuesday right after a 3-day weekend…just before the first day of the month being a Wednesday…and 30 days from the end of QE2…with a spattering of bad economic news thrown in for good measure– what am I leaving out? Talk about needing a good system for combining your forecasts…..

Gary Rogan writes:

The House rejecting the debt limit increase? Last time (fall of '08) the spineless tried to grow a spine the language of the falling markets was used to explain to them the error of their ways.

MUST…SAVE…COUNTRY…MUST…PASS…DEBT…LIMIT 

Jun

3

 It's the little things that you do that make losing happen. The Heat were up by 15 with 5 minutes to go, and were shadow boxing (James and Wade) and making howling noises, Bosch, and smiling all around. Loose as a goose. Their joy turned to concern, then fear, then paralysis. Same kind of error as the Heat made could cost you your life in trading. I've been up for 48 hours straight to stay out of the Abbey, and it's those little things that sometimes enable one to pay the bills.

Paolo Pezzutti writes:

In Paris, defending champion Francesca Schiavone battled from a set (6-1) and 4-1 down to defeat Russian teenager Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and reached the French Open semi-finals. It ended 1-6, 7-5, 7-5. What kind of heart and mind it takes to accomplish such things and never give up. In the semi-finals the adrenaline was still there and she beat the French opponent 6-3 6-3.

This sort of "momentum" exists also in trading. This looks like a bear trap. When prices spike to the downside and then return within the range and explode in the opposite direction. Hopefully it will continue today vs. the Chinese Li Na.

Jun

3

Pete Earle wrote a very good article over at Mises.org.

The Aksumite civilization began coalescing approximately 400 years before the birth of Christ, with the aggregation of a number of tribes and clans in present-day Ethiopia.

Personally, I feel my heart swell knowing that I have friends as smart as Pete and the rest of the contributors to Dailyspeculations for that matter.

Jun

3

My latest ramblings  on why most people should not go into the investment business and what to do if you still want to go into it despite my advice.

Jun

3

 Abstract:

This paper examines the investment performance of diamonds and other gems (sapphires, rubies, and emeralds) over the period 1999-2010, using a novel data set of auction transactions. Between 1999 and 2010, the annualized real USD returns for white and colored diamonds equaled 6.4% and 2.9%, respectively. Since 2003, the returns were 10.0%, 5.5%, and 6.8% for white diamonds, colored diamonds, and other gems, respectively. Both white and colored diamonds outperformed the stock market over our time frame. Nevertheless, gem returns are positively correlated with stock market returns, suggesting the existence of stock market wealth effects.

Jun

2

Two recent ostensible bubbles were the Nasdaq and US house prices. Prof. Shiller's nominal house price data was scaled to match the high of Nasdaq stock market, and shifted in time so the two peaks concurred (HPIQ2 2006 = NASQ1 2000).

Consistent with liquidity differences the Nasdaq bubble formed and burst much faster than housing. And neglecting effects of mortgage leverage, the housing bubble gain/loss was much less than Nasdaq.

Though the Nasdaq bubble was much more dramatic, ostensibly housing effects many more people. This, along with the fact that stocks are less in demand than places to live and market distortions due to foreclosures, suggests different bubble dynamics. Nasdaq began rallying about 2 years after its peak wheras housing continues to decline now some 5 years post-high.

Art Cooper writes:

Isn't "the effect of mortgage leverage" an enormous thing to neglect? Obviously, leverage is employed far more in housing than in the purchase of NASDAQ stocks.

Kim Zussman adds:

One could make the case that homeowners key less on loan-to-value (or value of equity) in a home than what the house next door just sold for.

Jun

2

Dr. Niederhoffer,

I was always fascinated by your career. What's more interesting to me is your ability to stay in an excellent mental and physical shape. I recently read your "Letter to a Newborn Son", congratulations. I learned a lot from it, but your assumptions on Soviet system and Russian people were simply wrong. Everyone of course is entitled to their opinion, but because I learned a great deal of knowledge from your writings on how to trade and market in general, I felt obligated to correct the assumptions that you made.

Unlike you, I actually lived in Soviet Union, before, during and after collapse and in 1995 when I turned 15 we immigrated to US. Myth number one: "people had no incentives in Russia, no one worked hard, and they never produced what people wanted". The great example is simple, educational system in Soviet Union that put to shame any education that students receive in public US schools. My mom taught in school in Russia for most of her life, to the last day we stayed there. We lived through 3 hyperinflations and 2 devaluations, that wiped out all of her and my grandparents savings, and yet she diligently worked every day and taught to the best of her ability not for monetary compensation (she was getting bed linen sheets at one point as a salary), but for personal gratification of doing a good job (definition of a good job, her students learned the subject). And my father who worked as an engineer, and cared about his intellectual progress rather than how much and how he will be paid (died many years ago for disagreeing with some of the practices in that system). I was taught chess, tennis, piano and swimming all for free and all by excellent teachers while they were getting paid very little. A concept that is hard to grasp for most Americans.

Another example was both of my grandparents, who lived and worked in the Soviet time, and received University Education (even though they were both Jewish we were lucky enough to live in Tashkent where antisemitism was not as bad as in the rest of the Soviet Union) in engineering and in German language and both served during WW2.

I am surprised that you would write something like this, looking at the pattern of your performance it always seemed to me that money and performance is just a byproduct, and the important thing for you was/is an intellectual pursuit and making a right decision.

There are 2 groups of people that you met and talked with, group one: mostly ex cons, criminals, conniving, deceitful thieves that never produced anything of value in the Soviet system, those that despised "communists" and left Soviet Union in the 1970th and 80th, because they were smart enough to realized that the system is fixed and people in general are slaves in that system (unfortunately for them, they were not in charge).

Group two; those that are also conniving, deceitful thieves that never produced anything of value, but they used to be in charge of the system therefore there was no need to go anywhere (and they are still there).

I have a better explanation for the "phenomena" that you witnessed and experienced. I call it "homeless complex or slave complex". I walk around NYC and can't help, but notice that unlike in Russia homeless people are extremely obese, I decided to sit down with one and treat him for a dinner and ask him several questions. He finished everything we ordered and even though he was already full he ordered more and started eating more. I couldn't understand him and asked him why is he eating more if he was already full? He said "There might be nothing to eat tomorrow" (there are other reason why they obese, but I won't go into it here). When we came to America I worked with my mom in the pushcart that sold bagels, after everyday we gave all the leftover bagels to homeless people, the food never ended, day after day it would be the same homeless guys and yet they ate everything.

So the simple answer is "Russians" that you met are simply experiencing a "homeless complex" that if they won't steal everything today, from whomever they can (and outsiders like yourself make a perfect target) tomorrow it might run out. They learned from the experiences of the intellectuals that surrounded them and died in poverty and hopelessness. I also noticed that majority of people that buy cars that they can't afford are Russian and Chinese immigrants and African Americans. I call it "Slave complex". We are trying to make up for all those days of hunger.

 At your level you never met true "socialists" that do things that make no sense for someone like me, who understands and lives in US system (I remembered we were getting paid $70 per day for 12 hour shifts (even though sales were close to $900 per day, that's lots of bagels and coffee). It was a cash business, and the owner (who came to America in the 70th) paid so little because he assumed that we will steal from him, and of course my "socialist" mother would not dare, and she simply said, if you are not interested in working, don't work here). And still, I can not understand why is my mom who is currently making 50k a year as a High School teacher, stays every day after school and makes sure that every student will understand the subject before they go home. Nobody is paying her extra for it, nobody will fire her (she is tenured) if she is not there. There is no incentive for it. In America we call people like that, dedicated idiots.

After visiting Russia many times in the recent years, I realized that there are still lots of people like my mom in the country, but they are a dying hopeless, and in some cases homeless, breed because in the new system you are mostly surrounded by people with "homeless/slave complex".

I love the American system. At the age 18 I became a trader by chance and did well (high frequency with leverage 50-100 to 1). I quit for almost 4 years for 2 reasons. First, health; I was too young and did stupid wild things that caused my health condition to deteriorate rapidly and second, for precisely the reason you described, every day I would get up from my chair see that I made over 400k a day and "produced" very little for society (except maybe commissions or as Goldman said "we provide liquidity". I was a vulture. I made peace with it over the years by talking with other traders, became a marathon runner, and went back to trading because nothing else that was available interested me, and with the money I make I can create things for society (good thing now, my black box can be a vulture and I can finish my PhD).

Again, we are shaped by our experiences and we do and think what we like, but for some crazy reason (maybe to show you other side of the story) I felt obligated to spend 30 minutes of my life to write this email. Maybe it's genetic. You are much smarter and older than I am and have had more experience in life and maybe there is a mathematical explanation for that behavior (but it is not a simple matter of improving oneself, or lack of incentive to work hard, there was an incentive for masses it just wasn't monetary (and for those that were in power I like what Mr. Soros said, that being an agency issue) that's what Ayn Rand didn't get).

Keep up the good work,

Love reading your material,

Arthur. 

Jun

2

 If one does not hear from me in the next day, it is likely that you can find me at Trinity Church worshiping and walking unsteadily to the east.

T.K Marks writes:

One hopes that you mean in a bargain hunting fashion rather than a spectral one.

P.S. I don't know if you caught the basketball game last game but Dallas' offensive stupor made the one-dimensional Knicks look like the Harlem Globetrotters in terms of panache and creativity. Looked like they were playing rugby.

Victor Niederhoffer adds: 

I'll either be at Trinity Church or Westminster Abbey. 

Jeff Watson writes: 

Better than the Tower of London. 

T.K Marks writes:

Meanwhile, across the Channel, the French had a Revolutionary tradition of dispatching of one with a relatively humane suddenness, rather than the death-by-a-thousand-cuts peculiar to modern trading.

Jun

2

This may finally be the time when bad news start to be considered as
such and the market reacts badly. After months and months when bailouts,
earthquakes, wars, skyrocketing oil prices were not considered by Mr.
Market now things may be changing.

Yesterday with prices up and a strong close, I was actually wondering
why even the falling housing prices could be a good news for stocks.
Today someone finally realized that the US economy is slowing down and
this recovery is simply not sustainable. May be it is the same banks
which fueled the market to the upside… and that are aware that in this
political climate further stimulus is impossible.

From Reuters:

U.S. stocks skidded on Wednesday as more weak economic data cemented fears the U.S. recovery was running out of steam and prompted Wall Street firms to slash forecasts ahead of the closely watched payrolls report on Friday. Goldman Sachs and several other big financial institutions cut estimates for non-farm payrolls growth in May after ADP Employer Services reported much lower-than-expected growth in private payrolls last month.

Jun

2

 Weather.com's Knabb wrote a piece about cities that are overdue for a hurricane. He wrote that:

"Only one hurricane is known to have ever directly struck the coast of California with hurricane-force winds. I cannot show you a satellite image, because it happened long before satellites were invented. I cannot show you any video of the hurricane's damage in California, because it happened before movie cameras were invented. In fact, it's been such a long time that it took some extensive work by researchers within the past decade to dig up sufficient, relevant documentation of the event, such as old newspaper accounts and surface observations, to paint a clear picture of what happened.

"That one California hurricane struck San Diego on Oct. 2, 1858, producing sustained hurricane-force winds there and resulting in extensive property damages. Winds of tropical storm force extended up the coast to near Los Angeles. Another hurricane hasn't hit California since. Why is such an event so rare?

Jun

2

 On a day in which life makes no sense at all with mothers being taken from their children, and a year in which Japanese school children were buried under twenty feet of mud, and in preparation for the decade's celebration in which we honor those of 9/11, this Pulitzer Prize winner doesn't answer many of life's questions but does clarify a few.

RIP Marguerite,

Jay

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