I saw a great true documentary on the Discovery channel a few weeks back and it seemed to have some market lessons. It was unique in that there was actual film footage of an accident taken by the passengers/victims themselves.

It started out innocently enough with 22 tourists going on a sunset whale watching cruise on a double deck 60 foot sightseeing boat. The sky was ever so slightly overcast with slight rain. The 22 passenger/tourists were filming themselves and showing their excitement. A few in passing mentioned the weather with one man saying to his beautiful wife maybe we shouldn’t go, I am a bit nervous. The sexy wife said, oh stop worrying (sexy broker offering some stock in a slightly down market?). The captain now exits and gives a small speech and says, oh don’t worry about the weather, I have been doing this for 35 years (your broker saying great market buy any dips and don’t worry), enjoy your sightseeing trip and whales. Now the film footage shows the excited people on board looking forward to seeing the whales as the sun sets.

Unfortunately the whales hang out by an island where the seals hang out and where the great whites also hang out. The weather unexpectedly became a bit worse, the captain made an error and a black swan ensued whereby the boat overturned–all of this was filmed by various passengers. Most of them fell into the water and were panicked. They stuck together for some time and then one had his leg taken off by a great white and the ocean filled with blood attracting a feeding frenzy of great whites, which the experts commented happens 100% of the time. But something happened that the experts have never observed-all of the great whites left the area to make room for the boss a 35 foot great white who had the entire feeding ground for himself (like the markets making way for a great whale, central bank or the like?).

This great white ate the woman who told her husband not to worry as she clung to a giant buoy (actual footage showed this gruesome scene). Even now with coast guard helicopters above, the currents became to strong and people were drifting away. They were close to rescuing 1 chap but were 1 minute too slow as the same great white took him. All told, 3 people were killed and many injured. Sometimes you just don’t know when the markets will do something completely unaccounted for or unexpected in ways that no one imagined.



I saw this excerpt from a forthcoming book today. The background of which reads like a Runyonesque tale with an delightful O. Henry ending:

"Hard times with a high roller"

"Ronald Probstein, an MIT academic who studied at Princeton and met Einstein, was raised by a compulsive gambler in Depression-era NYC, But, he reveals, his shady dad is the one who taught him about life — and math…"

The excerpt about the father, Sid Probstein.

The son, Ronald Probstein.

Mark Johnson writes:

It just so happened I was reading about this book yesterday and had many of the same thoughts. Many good lessons to be learned and interesting reading. The father, obviously very intelligent, never hit his stride, but his son did.

Stan Rowen opines:

I find the article about the son far more uplifting than the story of the dad. Why? He applied his math abilities to several important scientific domains that were of enormous long-term benefit to society. Unlike his dad, who had to hustle in marginal activities his whole life, and died broke. The nobility of math, science and engineering vs. the pathos of a cog in the seamy underworld.


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