The Occam's Razor Principle roughly paraphrased would mean that when there are several explanations possible for any phenomenon usually the simplest is the best.

All fundamental logic would point to a weaker yen and all weak hands were tipping their hats to that side.

The smart, if someone will not call them the crooked, have a reason thus, that since there is only so much money in the pot at any point in time, to tip theirs the other way round.

Stops and risk management ideologies and what have you created a lobogola compressed in time.

Sherlock Holmes or not, it's elementary my dear.

Anatoly Veltman writes: 

I'll add, and believe me not– I knew it all along Wed/Thu– the reversal was imminent. The only question was: were there inside parties, with ability to skim off the top. My guess was: yes, in modern virtual finance those parties are ever-present and almost infallible. So here you go: push the thin ice when no one is looking - and all they will see is a geyser!

I'm sure that bottom-feeders were put out of their misery on a split-second 76.50/77.50 quote between the US and Japan sessions: bought back their Yen, closed out at 76.50; end of their account…



 It's hard to know where to begin about what's wrong with the Fed's new mysterious stress test, reviews, and approvals of the flexionic bank mass dividend distribution and share repurchase bonanza this morning. This is sickening National Socialism at it's finest. "We bail them out, we review their plans, and then we issue proper paperwork for the good of the state, just like a good Central Planning Bureaucracy is supposed to do."



 Here's a portrait of a person in complete charge of a situation. Right from the magisterial entrance.

He was 85 at the time of this performance. Amazing. Seems to have had an air of kinetic aplomb about him. At once exuberant and restrained.

Given my heritage, it might seem unduly contrarian of me to be sitting here on St. Patrick's Day raptly thinking about an Italian conductor, but this is an interesting guy. From the palace intrigue of how he got his start as a conductor while down in Rio, to his political epiphany that maybe that flirtation of his with fascism might not be such a good idea, to a legendary quote of his that might be the absolute apotheosis of the backhanded compliment:

"To Strauss the composer I take off my hat; to Strauss the man I put it back on again."



 In periods of higher volatility and shocks across the board, as in the last week, be prepared to alter your trading plan as a position taker.

Where once a constructive market under low-medium volatility allowed you to set defined price entries, and the usual patterns and trading synergies of a particular market held true, which in effect gave you your original edge, now to perform when volatility picks up and markets change, don't be so cute on your entries and exits.

In effect, if it gets close and you want a position, pull the trigger, reduce size and get involved, and be prepared to reload.

The added volatility and your experience in the market should more than make up for any short term hits.



 Hello everyone,

I'm watching Pawn Queens on TLC. I have also been watched Pawn Stars about the Gold's pawn shop in Detroit.

I've caught Warehouse Wars lately where the locks are cut off storage units and you bid on what you see without entering the units.

Is the increase of these shows a result of the economy getting stronger?

Also the Market goes up today after a prior two day decline. Is this done so not to run off everone?





 So is the consensus now among us non flexions  that the radiation danger is merely exaggerated 100 fold so that technology in the US will be set back 30 years, and government intervention will be lubricated for the next 4 years to deal with the crisis which seems so much worse to the US than the Japanese and IAEA? This is not meant to diminish the magnitude of the tragedy in Japan, but merely to wonder if we believe that the subsequent dangers have been much exaggerated for flexionic profit?

Anatoly Veltman writes:

Yes, of course. One thing to be sure about is that T.Boone Pickens' funds will start getting ahead, as Natural Gas projects (like gradual highway infrastructure to facilitate filling-up vehicles, especially trucks and such) should finally be given light-of-day.

Bill Rafter comments:

"Never let a crisis go to waste."

Jay Pasch writes:

Buy the clashing of bearish cymbals, and sell the euphoric opposite…

Kim Zussman ironizes:

Buy the clashing of bearish cymbals, and sell the euphoric opposite in flat/choppy markets. If markets ain't flat or choppy, don't buy and sell 'em. 

Steve Ellison writes: 

No doubt it was my poor judgment, but from the perspective of operating a specialty line in panics, the moments of panic in the past week in the S&P 500 seemed too brief and ephemeral to go all in. The changes since the earthquake were:

3/11 +11.7
3/14 -10.7
3/15 -15.2
3/16 -21.4
3/17 +14.9

There were three moderately large down days in a row, but for perspective, the S&P 500 futures are still up 1.5% year to date. Only for the briefest of moments did they trade below the 1247.9 year-end close of 2010.



 I remember reading about this group of people ("jumpers") as a kid in the 70s when they made about $11 per hour (around 7x min wage I think) and received a full years dose of radiation in a short period of time.

The brave Japanese workers fighting the problems at the reactors without regard for their own lives reminded me of this hazardous "occupation".

"Nobody wants that job," said Brett Allen, an instructor at Cuesta College who heads a PG&E training program. "It's like a lifeguard specializing in 100-foot-wave rescues. You may not live as long."

But just as there are those who revel at the chance to engage in high-risk rescues, there is a specialized breed of nuclear power plant workers who enjoy going where few dare to go. Officially they are known as nozzle dam technicians, but to those in the industry, they are the "jumpers."

It appears that this job category still exists.



 As $/Yen exchange rate slowly, but as surely as the Geiger counter ticking through 80.00 and toward its all-time record in 79-handle - one pauses and contemplates: is this supposed to be real or surreal?

Here you have a liquid, instantly tradeable 24-hour instrument, which may allow as much as 100:1 leverage to those who qualify and wish to indulge. You have country plagued by apparently irreversible demographic deterioration, now hit with quite a real prospect of not wanting any new pregnancy for decades to come, period. Its Central Bank can, is and will print this currency in perpetuity. Am I wrong in assumption that the only current bidders for Yen are Japanese multinationals, that must temporarily curtail their offshore enterprises in favor of domestic operations? And no one else…

Kim Zussman writes:

A biblical flood:  so much money it flows even where it doesn't belong.

Nigel Davies writes:

 If Japan needs to spend a lot on reconstruction whilst having little power to export then surely a strong yen makes sense.

Tyler McClellan writes:

It's not relevant to what you guys are talking about,

but of course the truth is precisely the opposite. To the extent Japan needs to get real resources from the rest of the world and can offer fewer real resources as recompense, it ought to offer a greater real share on its future production (which of course can be brought about by having a weaker currency).This is all just water on the bridge, but at least provides a reasonable basis for the conventional idea that the currency should weaken.

But these economic flows arguments are dominated by the change in the relative stock affects. There is a preponderant group of people who want to exchange a stock of dollar denominated assets for yen denominated assets. For purposes of this example, it doesn't matter that they dont know in which form to hold these yen assets (certainly not in stocks).

There is a meal for a lifetime here, but it is a complex one. It has to do with this observation, what does it mean for a given type of assets to be priced as the marginal equilibrium between buying and selling? Does this sensitivity to various changes of marginal preferences say something about the assets class and how partial equilibrium is achieved?

Perhaps I'm being not being clear enough, for the foreigner who happened to hold his worth in indeterminant yen assets, this constellation of events has been perfect. Why should that be the case?



 What is the geophysics of thinking that more natural disasters are more likely now that the earth quake has occurred?

Kim Zussman shares:

Read this article.

Rudolf Hauser writes:

Another factor to consider is the shifting of the magnetic poles. This is reportedly associated with violent swings in weather and more earthquakes and volcanic explosions. Apparently there has been a marked acceleration in the rate of shifting in the past few years. Some question whether this might be the cause of recent weather extremes and geological activity. Since such shifts occur only every half million years or so we obviously have little idea of how they progress. If this is a real reason for concern it is an issue far more immediate and important that the global warming fears.

Pitt T. Maner III writes: 

There have been suggestions of a connection with renewed (regional?) vulcanism.

The last eruption of Mt. Fuji , for instance, occurred 49 days after the previous largest earthquake in Japanese history.

Another Japanese volcano has resumed activity but cause/effect from the March 11 quake may be tenuous.

The volcano, Shinmoedake, is famous for standing in as the villain's secret rocket base in the 1967 James Bond film, "You Only Live Twice". 

Bill Rafter comments: 

Earthquakes and volcanism are simply different manifestations of the goings on of plate tectonics.

Read this article from New Sceintist: "The megaquake connection: Are huge earthquakes linked?".



 The market was gyrating so much last night in a negative direction that I didn't even have time to see how badly the Knicks got killed while I was out. And the regression bias has never had a better examplar than the Knicks. Luck + skill determines every outcome. The luck is random. Whenever the Knicks have a good win, the luck factor was highly favorable. And then the next time out they lose by 47.

J.T Holley writes:

It's very much the same as my beloved Va Tech Hokies in all their sporting events. The listing of the samples for the regression bias can be used with football and basketball which makes it all the more interesting when I gather data.

The ultimate highlight that sticks out in the sampling of being a fan is 11-0 regular Season with Andre Davis on the cover of Sports Illustrated with the caption "Do They Belong?", meaning to me that luck got them there. Lost in the NCAA Championship to Fla. State in a 46-29 nail biting game that is still talked about as one of the greatest losses, great loss yeah right? That loss was 1/4/00, the S&P 500 top ticked within days of the loss.most recently to add was the NCAA committee somehow having watched the Hokies fight and claw with 7 players to beat Duke at home while ranked #3 only to follow up to losses to Boston College and Clemson in final two regular season games. Be casted in typical fashion as a bubble team. Go into the ACC Tourney win, then beat Fla. State on a tenth of a second made shot that was canceled after regulation. They must've said luck, thus snubbed from the NCAA Tourney for the 4th straight time after a couple years back being the only 10 game ACC winner not make the Tourney. S&P 500 is at hand in gyration.

It's sad and the life of a Hokie, but the regression bias to the S&P is there as well.

I have often wondered now as a grown man looking back at this game against Florida State (yes the Seminoles again) and the luck + skill that it required didn't curse or hoodoo Virginia Tech in some way?

I dare not even pull data from 1980 to see what the S&P did days after. It's like I know it somehow wouldn't even effect the averages in the regression bias if it was positive anyways.

Alston Mabry writes:

The Hokies got stiffed again. This year, though, I think they may be standing in the "stiffed" line behind Colorado. Not only did Colorado (overall 21-13, 8-8 conf) go 6-3 in their last 9 games, including a win over now-4-seed Texas, but in that stretch they won their first round game in the Big 12 tourney against Iowa State, then in the next round beat Kansas State for the third time this season, and finally went up against Kansas, a team that along with Ohio State forms the most common prediction for the NCAA final game…and Colorado scores 83 points against Kansas in a tough loss. But Colorado doesn't deserve any place at all in the NCAAs? They can score NBA-level points in a tournament game against one of the consensus two best teams in the country…but they don't deserve a slot in the NCAA tournament. If that makes sense, explain to me why Villanova isn't headed for the NIT.

Once one examines these situations at Va Tech and Colorado, as well as other seeding and bubble-team choices, one can't help but think that perhaps the committee is screwing this whole thing up on purpose so they can say, "You're right! We messed up! The only solution is to expand to 96 teams!"

J.T Holley replies:

Very simple. The NCAA Committee is made up of only TWO people that have played basketball or coached basketball.

The answer to Villanova is that they are in the Big East. The Big East gets a bias and free pass. They have the most Teams in 11 being selected for the Tournament. No other Conference constantly gets more at large bids, yes I'm aware they have the biggest conference with 16 Teams. There are what 37 at large bids. 11/37= a tad bit biased under 30%.

My conspiracy theory is the following: The Big East is such a lackluster Football Conference in the past decade that the NCAA overcompensates for them in basketball due to their humiliating play on the gridiron and the fact that the BCS favors the SEC.

Note that Alabama an SEC team was 12-4 and won their side of the conference in basketball in the SEC and got snubbed as well by the NCAA Committee?

Worth noting is the eventual winners and why the bias now? Who was the last Big East Team to win the NCAA Tourney? '04 UConn then prior it was '03 Syracuse. That is over 7 years ago? In the meantime either the ACC or SEC has won 5 of the last 6 Titles?

Also worth noting is that the NCAA now owns and operates that other Tournament "NIT". They own the NIT and have its Final Four and Championship held at the Madison Square Garden in Big East territory? Too funny.

I'm not some anti-monopoly guy, but hey the NCAA just needs to come clean and say we do profit and that's the way its going to be fella's.

I like Bobby Knights words "Let's just expand the Tourney to 128 Teams and everybody shut up", but then the NIT wouldn't be a money maker would it?



 1. One would think that the universal brotherhood of central flexions would work to create a positive ambiance at the open market meeting today, with helpful comments from any flexions with big positions in Asia vis a vis electricity et al.

What is the evidence that rebalancing asset allocations between bonds and stocks on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis leads to non-random results?

Does dollar cost averaging lead to better outcomes than random buying?

2. It is an interesting sidelight that with all that's going on, the greatest turmoil and tragedy in at least 3 years, the market dropped a quick 1/2% before the ridiculously unimportant NABH housing market index for fear that ???? It would be down or something. What fools these mortals be. And what better demonstration of the ephemeral nature of the public.

Anatoly Veltman writes:

It reminds me of an old hilarious caricature, illustrating a TV anchor going: "The markets world-wide plunged over 90% of their value on astronomers' confirmation that history's largest asteroid is on inevitable collision course with Earth. They have rebounded sharply midday on rumors that the Federal Reserve may lower the Discount Rate".

Sam Marx writes:

Thank goodness for the ephemeral nature of the public.



If you are an Ameritrade user you can download the Think Or Swim platform (TOS) for free– you probably know that.

If you click on the support/chat button you can pick from a number of so-called chat rooms. Actually most of them have useful audio and multimedia (e.g., curated charts and such in a window) commentary during the day, like the really good SnP pit squawk from "" (this one is audio). The squawk is a lot of fun to listen to at least during the open/close period. Whatever you might say about the usefulness of the sp pit the action and actually the commentary is quite educational for those limited to ES screen trading. It gets pretty rough-and-tumble at times.

A new one that TOS added is a 10-second delayed version of the premium RANSQUAWK service. This is really good. No chatter all day long just important news much faster than you can glean it yourself. The 10-second delay is only a minor nuisance for the big reports like oil inventories and econ reports (I say that as a mere daytrader for whom these things often have significance). It covers news worldwide (it's based in London) and they seem to monitor a vast array of global news releases and remove the chaff.



Here is a great review of the fabulous UK Maker Faire.

Chris Tucker writes:

I LOVE Maker Faire!!

The Bay Area one is May 21, 22; Detroit July 30,31; New York Sept. 17, 18 at the New York Hall of Science



 This is valuable info for an ex-pat or American in need of competent medical care. A traveler, or US resident willing to take a junket to a 5-star hotel + quality hospital in an exotic land need not have American medical insurance at the low rates 3rd world countries charge for diagnosis, treatment & operations. (Someone pointed out to me that it is correctly termed medical rather than health insurance, because many overwrought american doctors are ill at promoting your health.)

As you say, it's all in finding the right doctor, anywhere. I insist on older docs and sports med physicians, or at least one who does sports. In a dearth, visit a sharp young clinic operation of a handful of friend docs who in synergy come up with the proper diagnosis and treatment. My luck with physicians in foreign countries has been excellent. They kick the price 20% for ex-pats or visitors, bringing it to maybe 5% of American rates.

As you say, foreign hospital doctors nearly always have private practices at home, and that's where I get instant professional help. No appointment, his wife is the secretary, and he's linked to top specialists for radiology, lab tests, surgery, etc. in town. You're in and out his doctor's door in 15 minutes, and feeling so much better for it that you're tempted to toss the prescription to be filled down the block instantly at about 25% USA costs. The doctors & pharmacists generally speak some English.

Foreign docs, while making less than American, often own businesses on the side. I got close to an Iquitos waitress to meet the physician-owner of a restaurant who gave me a tour of his clinic, some excellent off-the-cuff health pointers, and was willing to trade english lessons for future diagnoses.

On the other hand, here in lake Toba, Sumatra, the elderly lady who just made me a salad says that no one in Toba gets sick, and there are no dentists (she's never been), but for a village accident or emergency one is whisked in one of three cars to a nearby town where the doctor accepts homemade pies and chickens, just like the old-time American doctors.

Medical tourism is a welcome wave set off by shock American fees.However, it's all about competition (as your letter indicates re: the Bumrungrad Bangkok hospital ruins), and it's reckoned that USA prices will fall with less demand. or, they'll try to control it somehow, like recently 'requiring' american passports to re-enter from Mexico, where thousands of borderline americans travel for medical, dental, px. The truth at the border -tested by friends and I dozens of times & most recently 6 mo. ago- is when a smart-alec immigration officer demands your passport or else, the legal repartee is that he may not prevent you from entering your own country. Then his face reddens, and he waves a sheet in your face that asks that you next time to bring a passport.



 The legendary drummer and vocalist Levon Helm from The Band routinely hosts concerts at his barn home/recording studio up in Woodstock, NY.

The intimate shows are always fantastic and the venue is unparalleled in its uniqueness:

It's his living room.

I highly recommend the shows up at his house. Been there many a time and it never gets old. Some really outstanding musicians.



One thing that should be mentioned in any discussion of dollar cost averaging is that it really only works if you have an independent source of income to add to the investment kitty. Without that it pretty much devolves into just reinvesting dividends. Reinvesting dividends does work too. Studies have shown that about half of all Triumphal Optimists 100 year long return came from reinvestment of dividends. This incremental return was greater than the average dividend rate. Thus part of the overplus came from the timing effect of dollar cost averaging the dividends.



Here are some returns for dollar cost averaging vs buy (all in from the beginning) and hold for SP500 over two different market conditions. I check three different kinds of DCA: buy month close if month was down, buy month close if month was up, and buy all month closes. All were $1000 purchases of the SP500 index (w/o div), held to the end of the period.

First, the "flat" 2000-2010 period. The final totals were:

.             DN DCA         UP DCA        ALL DCA
.TOTAL    57215.72        75497.34        132713.06
.# BUYS        55             74              129
.P/L           1.04           1.02             1.03

(P/L is gain or loss for all invested capital; 1.0 = gain of zero) Buying after down had the best return of +4%, which was 2% more than buying after up and 1% more than buying every month. All forms of DCA were much better than B/H; had one invested all capital fully at the beginning of the period thru 11/10, the return was -13.7%.

Here is the same for the bull market 82-00:

.                  DN DCA           UP DCA          ALL DCA
.TOTAL       404718.14       627104.29      1031822.43
.# BUYS           75               139            214
.P/L              5.4            4.51           4.82

Obviously a lot better performance than the recent decade, with buying after down months beating both other systems. BUT B/H from the beginning kills them all: balance as of 2000 is 12.98X the initial investment.


If you could know whether your relevant holding period is up rather than flat/choppy, it is better to go all in from the start. If not (why not?), or if funds are available only incrementally over time, it is better to buy after down months.

Kim follows up:

Here is the DCA analysis for DJIA from 1928-1940 (another bad period):

.                DN DCA       UP DCA         ALL DCA

.TOTAL       70737.18      82558.73      153295.91

.# BUYS          62                83                145


.P/L             1.14             0.99               1.06


.B/H             0.44

While the DOW lost 56%, blind monthly DCA and after down DCA made money.



Scientists are studying how the kangaroo bounces and how it is one of the few species that doesn't change posture as it grows larger or hops faster. Kangaroos are very efficient and make great subjects for those studying athletic motions and the fluidity of such motions.



 It's tournament time in Racquetown, USA. where ten courts arranged in two rows with a gallery plank above and between them is about to bust open with first serve. The left row hosts the beginner through Open divisions, and the right is strictly pros and racquetball Legends. Soon, we'll take a comparative squint at their physical vs. mental errors, and intentions.

The first two terms are my inventions, but intentions have been with us since the first Neanderthal raised a club for advantage.

Physical errors occur when you miss a shot due to a bad footwork, poor swing, or anything not having to do with a mistake in shot selection. Players make physical errors all the time, and it's no big deal, they say. It's true that a corrective lesson, plus practice, insure a diminishing chance of repeating physical errors.
On the other hand, mental errors are faulty brainwork, usually in shot selection. You should have taken a specific shot from a certain court position, but for some reason did not. These errors may be corrected instantly by an assertion of will, even inside tournament pressure. However, unnoticed or uncorrected mental slights become losing habits.
Let's stage the two types of errors before we look in on the action at Racquetown.

Physical errors:

1) You take a forehand back wall shot and miss a killshot because you were tired. This was the ideal shot but it skipped, hence a physical error. 2) Your step up to volley your opponent's lob serve, but your return zooms off the back wall for a plum setup. The analysis is that you made the proper return attempt, but missed, perhaps because it's a difficult shot. 3) You plant to kill a mid-court shot, a logical thought, and miss it because you forget to step into the ball. You call timeout and sequester in the corner to practice stepping into the ball for a minute, and resume with confidence that you've corrected a physical error. Get the idea?

Mental errors:

1) You gaze in front court at an oncoming ball with your opponent behind you, and hit a pass. This is a mental slight, whether or not the pass wins the point. The correct shot in front of the rival should have been a killshot. 2) A ball lofts softly off the front wall that may be volleyed with one step forward, or floor-bounced three steps backward. You choose the later, committing what Ben Franklin called an erratum, a failure in your systematic shot selection. Always step up to volley whenever possible. 3) It's match point serve as you pause inside the service box to gather courage for a surprise serve to his forehand. At the last instant in the service motion, you psyche out and lift the ball for a safer Z-serve that scores an ace. Nonetheless, this is a mental error, so keep your victory speech short.

At the lower skill lever, every rally is fraught with physical and mental errors, and the general rule is the first player to correct them via lessons and practice advances to a higher division. He'll still make a few correctable physical errors in progressing on to the pros, where the rule is no physical errors. It's all mental.

What can you do right now from an armchair to discipline physical and mental errors? Order the mind to be content after a lost rally using perfect shot selection, since a physical flaw has been unearthed to practice.

Also, swear to reinforce regret after poor shot selection wins a rally, since its repetition loses ensuing volleys. Unrecognized mental errors become physical habits over time that takes long practice cures. Worse, mental errors explained away because of won points pave a path to an irrational life.

Physical vs. mental errors is about delayed gratification. Try a game where you and your opponent agree after each rally to pause five seconds to reflect on each others mistakes. Identify the physical and the mental ones. Watch them diminish until the play advances to intentions, talked about shortly.

Physical, and especially mental errors, steamroll from inside to off the court, and into your future. A single erratum now may domino to knock out of a lifetime deal anywhere. This is why it's important after a match to sit down with a Gatorade and pencil, and analyze your repeating physical and mental errors. List the physical ones in a column on a sheet of paper, with a remedy practice drill next to each. List the mental ones in a second column, and next to it a vow or trick not to do it again. Some methods to clear up the mental error column are mantras, mental rehearsal of the right shots, and practicing correct shot selection with a partner who agrees to end the rally, and thus a point against, the first player to use incorrect shot selection.

It becomes apparent that for any given shot the permutations are: 1) No physical or mental error, 2) Physical + mental error, 3) Physical error only, or 4) Mental error only. Charting these helps open door #1 to victory.

What's more important in the overall game: physical or mental errors? Rookies who conquer physical errors such as a poor grip or slow backswing go on to win. Yet, as the skill level heightens with fewer physical errors, mental play keys in. He who commits fewer mental faults then wins.

Strive for errorless games with stick-and-carrot tricks. The most common beginner folly of protecting a weak backhand by running 'around' it for a forehand, or by hitting the ball with into the back wall, is quickly fixed by racquetball's premier early coach, Jeff Leon. For each mental error, the player must drop to the hardwood and do ten pushups. He concurrently praises positive actions.

Intermediate players may place a small pot in a rear court corner, next to a roll of nickels. The house rules are: 1) When you make a physical error, put a nickel in the pot. 2) For every mental slip put in three nickels. 2) Take a nickel out for every point scored. Now, can you get to 21 points before losing all your change to the pot? Want to bet?
I threw carrots and sticks at myself on the court for years hinged on an updated list on my locker of physical and mental errors, till the career autumn as uncovered balls began bouncing twice beyond my reach. Frankly, toward the end, it was easier to store errors in mind as there were so few. Often a rally, game and match- but never a full tournament- passed with zero physical and mental errors.

One lesson from the chart was there is absolutely no such thing as an 'off day' that millions of sportsmen across America fondly lament. Once you peak in a sport, where no further physical training beyond maintenance is required, and the strategies are understood to eschew mental slips, you may not perform badly. What the people are describing as bad days are unrecognized or uncorrected physical and mental errors.

I carried that hypothesis into a ruinous first game at a Madison Pro stop. Nervy Ken Wong had burst into the pro ranks as the first successful Chinese player who used an inscrutable service motion to lob or drive. He stood like a statue in the service box and looked long up into the lights, tossed the ball nearly to the ceiling, and struck a perfect lob or drive serve with one deceptive swing. I couldn't do anything right against him, and the gallery hooted Chinese hex. I exited the court after the first game loss, just not grasping why shots went crooked. I reached into my gym bag for water only to feel slime- a bottle of Prell shampoo had broken coating the racquet grip with soap. I grabbed a spare racquet with a dry grip and re-entered the court for a showdown win. Some mistakes are committed before one enters the court and need to be corrected to take the streaks out.
My peak performance among about 1000 tournament matches was against Mr. Racquetball Marty Hogan at his peak on the front wall-glass exhibition of the Denver Courthouse. In the first game, I made no physical and no mental errors in a state of high difficulty due to the glass and, behind, a sea of bobbing heads screaming 'Hogan!' mixed with Marty's invisible power serves. The ball disappeared into someone's mouth, and suddenly was upon me. After losing the first game, in the second I made one physical and no mental errors. I lost my best match ever- the one that on any other day would have beaten myself-. 21-20, 21-19. I kept my chin up as my opponent was physically and mentally tortured.

It's a ball-buster to run around the court against an unerring human machine. He is the 'control' in the sport experiment, and you are the variable. His game is unchanging, so how you stack up depends entirely on your play. These champs are called Walls, and are invaluable to lose to, or win against, since they identify your mistakes.
My favorite brainy quote from the Racquetball Legends as their 2003 historian and psychologist, is from

 Mike Ray, the Andy of Mayberry with a racquet. He gets things done, and quietly. He beautifully describes playing one game against himself, and another against the opponent, simultaneously. 'When I'm on the court I have a strategy that I know if I execute well and the opponent doesn't do anything special, then I'll win. I just hit my shots, repeating the situations I've been in a thousand times before, so surprises are rare in a year. I ignore the score and let the ref keep it because it has no bearing on my shot selection. Often, my opponent walks off the court and I'm left holding the ball, until the ref yells, 'You just won the tournament!''

Now let's look in on the play in progress at Racquetown. Glance up-and-down the courts of beginners on the left, and pros on the right, and tally the number of physical vs. mental errors per rally per player. Among the 'C' players, each makes both errors on nearly every shot, so the games are long, sweaty rallies. (Racquetball survived early growing pains because of this.) At the 'B' level, see about half as many mistakes. At the 'A' level, the physical errors are ironed out but mental errors abound each second. In the Open division, we see only one physical error by each competitor per 4-shot rally, but two mental ones.

Then turn around and peek into the pro courts. A player only loses a rally who makes an error in shot selection that the rival invariably rekills. Most pros, except one in an epoch, make one mental error every two rallies.

Leave Racquetown knowing there's room for betterment through awareness and practice.

The professional level of anything is all about intentions. Locke said, 'Intention is when the mind, with great earnestness, and of choice, fixes its view on any idea.' In sport, you study the opponent's face, hands, gait and grace to quietly determine how he will act the next split-second. What is his design? How soon does the scheme dawn on him, and how long before he physically reaches a point of no return and executes it? Observing these signs is to predict first intent, and make a counter even as, or before, he moves.

 The opponent, of course, is looking you up and down the same. Hence, second intent evolves during first; a counter to a counter.

Intention is stretching the mind toward an object, and with practice you will anticipate a competitor's actions before he does. I learned the most about intentions in 3500 straight non-drinking nights in bars studying drunks, along miles of speechless dog and cat kennels, and trails of survival around the globe.

How far intentions reach is problematic: 1st… 5th… in chess predicting ten moves ahead blindfolded. Keep grounded that second intention is reference to signs, properties, guesses and relations among first intentions. Sequentially, third intent is established during second, and so on. Then decide how far you can or want to go.

Most people use intention sequences all the time, without realizing it. Let's look at a model of sport intentions to apply to business, dating and walking under dim streetlamps. Fencing intentions are described by the tactical wheel that teaches that each tactic will defeat the one before it, and be defeated by the one following. The fence, racquet rally, business negotiation, courtroom unfolding, early romance, political race or street brawl is an endless game of Rock/Paper/Scissors revolving around guessed intents by the players. (Rock breaks scissors, scissors cut paper, paper covers rock, and so forth.)

By assuming the opponent's attack while planning yours, you make a choice what move to use in the bout. That's first intent.

When you study the other's first intent in order to plan yours, you assume he is doing the same, and may alter your next move in what is called second intent. If your foe also notes your second intent, it progresses to third, and so on.

Intention doesn't play a large role in boilerplate sport and business, but it's the wild West throughout history for world beaters like Charley Brumfield, Amarillo Slim, Henry Kissinger, Thomas Jefferson and Perry Mason.

In other words, if one of them presents scissors, you can choose rock, and if you guess he or she will choose scissors again, you may assume he's picked something else for the next round, and so forth, perpetually altering your tactics.

In fencing, the first attack is certainly false, making the opponent perform a parry-riposte, while the real attack is a timed stroke against the opponent's riposte. In boxing, the first lesson from the horsehair mat is left jab, right- cross and Palooka's uppercut though a hole. Gunslingers at nineteen paces rely on multiple intent to shoot accurately first.
The problem with hitting on first intent, which is a euphemism for a 'model stroke', is that it's easily anticipated and countered. I favor second intent only, feeling that to journey farther into third intent against superior intellects that I'm accustomed to squaring off with, is suicidal.

This was the sweat-lesson, evening after evening for two hours, in the upstairs dungeon Michigan State University racquetball courts. No one could see me. I descended every couple of months to bash around in an intramural or fraternity contest, got clipped, and trudged up the steps again. Then one evening I thought of intention, without knowing the word. The next decade of championships in paddleball and racquetball relied on the exclusive stroke strategy of secondary intent. In setting up to swing, I always stepped, looked and angled the downswing (till the instant of ball contact) in precisely the opposite direction the ball was going.

For example, every right-hand killshot to the right-front corner began with a step into the ball cross-court, looking left, and striking the ball waist high. The technique runs tearfully counter to standards, but I wanted to better that, and so build strong first intent into the stroke to fool opponents. My killshot to the right front corner looked like the model stroke of a cross-court drive to deep left. The white lie, forehand and backhand, repeated millions of times in exhibitions and tournaments in a dozen countries without, I believe, anyone reckoning it.

The problem with third intention, and beyond, is that a mental state and stroke built on too many camouflages breaks down with physical exhaustion. Keep it simple, I reminded myself, and win, until all I could do for years is hit second intent shots even after knocked semi-conscious by a ball. In the more poised competitions of baseball and attorney work, you may safely extend into fourth or fifth echelons, reading the opponent's body language and 'mind' to establish his chain of intentions, and evolve your counters.
There's no riddle a computer poker, Jeopardy, or as once I was interviewed by a psychiatrist program, cannot solve. Cold hardware, given the proper juice and circuits, surpasses human. However, bloodless machines move pitifully in tennis shoes, and will never beat a racket player.

So, who are the best of the short line of court sport thinkers in history who committed the least physical and mental errors, hence the strongest 'intentors'? The list embarrasses since, I believe, built into every cerebral champion is a physiological shortcoming that trained his mind. Starting at the bottom, for racquetball,

Ruben Gonzales

Bud Muehleisen

Paul Lawrence

Peggy Steding

Mike Ray

Steve Strandemo

Jason Mannino

Mike Yellen

Charlie Brumfield


The greatest cerebral player is probably Victor Niederhoffer, who for decades plopped around squash, tennis, paddle and racquetball courts more noisily than I. We met to warm up on a St. Louis court at the 1973 national racquetball tournament, each wearing different colored sneakers. He in a black and a white, and I one red and a black. We eyed each other across the service box with first, second… I don't remember how many intentions. I was playing on a sprained ankle with a Converse Chuck on the hurt right, and a low-cut left. I asked myself, 'What does this guy know that I don't?' We've basically been inseparable ever since. There have been countless matches in multiple sports, evenly split, except I always walked away with an intent headache.

Niederhoffer and I entered a NYC squash court just before New Year's 2011 for a hybrid game using a racquetball and he a child's tennis racquet against my wood paddle. He's loosed up over the years, a hip replacement pops, but it's still hard to force his hand by intent. He won a tiebreaker to 11-points, but that night I left the court feeling pretty good for once.



 Thanks God the panic indicator is back!

The telephone started ringing early in the morning with frantic if not fearful voices of all sexes, inquiring if it was the right moment to dump Asian, European, American, shares, Oil, Natural Gas and start investing at zero percent on Swissie and JPY. As the trading day went by, along with the Dax 30 down 5.5 percent, down went the tone of the panicky voices and up the inquiries to sell.

To say the absolute truth, one does not yet own the Magic to foretell future with unfair odds, but some gut feeling mixed with reasoning as to the speed of the sell off, yes, that we have. Thus the perfect buying moment came as the "oneandonly" came in asking in despair what I thought of the Japanese Market. Indeed, it was not a question. It waited no answer, as I tried to calm the chap down and work out some figures and logical thoughts about NIkkei, and stock markets in general.

Yet, everything to no avail. The answers were already built in by the fear of further losses, irrespective of the possibility of cane buying or economic prospects rosier than these sad times are telling us.

Probably some bottoming out process will have to take place before we can ring the "all clear" siren, but one first, small sign was visible in the depth of the fearful investor's eye.

Steve Ellison writes: 

Recently I reread "A Specialist in Panics". The author recounts:

As a constant reminder I printed a sign with my name at the top and beneath the words:

Specialist in Panics

Below I put this query with a blank space for the answer:

Question: Panic Today?

Answer:  ____________

I decided to buy only when I could truthfully write yes as the answer to the question.

For the first time in 2011, one might have answered yes during the last 24 hours.

Ken Drees writes:

This reminds me of Justin Mamis' work– paraphrasing here:

Buy only when your hand is trembling with fear as you can hardly pick up the phone to call your broke.



Here's an interesting article on day trading and increased profits by going with the crowd. I'd like to see his original paper to see exactly how scientific the study was.



Markets Aren't 100% Efficient But You Still Can't Beat Em:

Nearly 40 years after the first edition of "A Random Walk Down Wall Street" the legendary Princeton Professor Burton Malkiel has released the latest version of the text: "The Time-tested Strategy for Successful Investing".

If one were to judge a book by its title, they might think Malkiel was making the case that there is no order to the stock market and that stock prices move randomly. But, that's not exactly the case. "It is not that stock prices are capricious in any sense, it is quite the contrary," says Malkiel. "[Prices are] essentially unpredictable, not capricious, but unpredictable because true news is unpredictable." He argues that all news is not equal.

Many headlines are efficiently already baked into stock prices before the events actually happen. Take for example the much talked about QE2 in the second half of 2010. There was so much speculation that the Federal Reserve would move again to buy up Treasuries that the market had largely adjusted for the decision before it actually happened. But, "true news" is very random, he says. For example, no one would have expected North Korea to unleash deadly artillery fire on the South, as occurred last month.

To his point, the event sent markets reeling, at least temporarily, evidence for why it's impossible to predict the short-term ups and downs of the market. You Can't Beat the Market Malkiel's book is essentially a brief on the Efficient Market Hypothesis, which states that stock prices efficiently incorporate all information available at any given time and trade at fair value. There are no profits sitting around, waiting to be picked up by investors. In the accompanying clip, Dan notes the "efficient market" theory has recently taking a beating; not just with the spectacular housing bubble and burst, but also due to the work of behavioral economists that have been studying irrational behavior.

But, Malkiel thinks the theory still holds up. "The efficient market hypothesis does not mean that prices are always right," he says. "We don't know at any one time whether [they are] too high or too low."

Read the full article here. 

Ralph Vince comments: 

This notion is silliness, grandiose academia at its worse.

There seems to be great oscillations in the collective thinking of men. We go from feeling we know everything there is to know, that we can, essentially, control everything, to that we know nothing, and all is beyond our control.

The EMH is akin to the 19th century notion that everything has been discovered and there is nothing new to discover. It does not account for those of us who regularly make profits other than to proclaim then as just lucky.

I don't need a bull market to make money and I can do it with any stock on the long side, without even having the choice of when to get in. I had to learn how to do it.

Simply because you cannot learn it in a university program doesn't mean it is any less of a learned skill.

Ralph Vince writes: 

I'm wondering though if maybe I don;t understand what Malkiel is saying, or what he IS saying is commensurate with the argument you guys are making.. He asserts most managers list money, others make money, but that seems to rotate around.

Ok, let's assume his empirical evidence in that regard is correct (I have no reason to doubt that). I think the larger question is "Is there a subgroup, within that revolving group of profitable managers, however small, that does NOT revolve, that DOES consistently make money. "…diamonds in the rough, for us clowns in the buff!"



It's quite amazing how personal energy is directly related to p and l. Especially during the drawdown, including whether all safe guards are up held. Then when the dam breaks, so does footspeed. Possibly the following account performance is a direct correlation of this combustion.



Surely there will be some hedge funds in trouble, because of Japan and falling prices in other markets, that arguably will have to be bailed out so as not cause more serious disruptions.

T.K Marks writes:

Not all of them. There are those who have felt that Japan's had intractable debt burdens whose chickens were eventually going to one way or another come home to roost."

Check out this article: "Even Before the Disaster, Big Investors Were Wagering on Economic Problems…"



 Hello all,

My best friend (aside from my favorite wife) has over time ingratiated himself into a small group of doctors. He goes out with them (they always pay) he uses them for free office calls for himself and his wife. He has begun to covet where they live and what they possess and what they drive. He let one Dr. talk him into getting a Schwab account for all his stocks. I give him hell all the time over all of this. He is becoming too self important.

I am property poor. Have a few collectibles. Drive an old truck. I have no interests in his other circle of acquaintances and tell him so. I like people for just who they are and nothing more.

We should all accept each other for who we are. Easy to say and tough to do at times.





 Most people still don't know what engineering is all about, or the benefits it provides.

If anything, Hollywood pushes a negative stereotype of the tech-types: emotionless, narrow-minded, and caring only about their project. There are very successful shows about doctors, lawyers, cops, sports figures, politicians, blue collar workers, and criminals, but I've never seen a mainstream show or series in which a technical guy (scientist/engineer) was the hero. About the best I can think of is MacGyver, and his genius was really resourcefulness, rather than intellectual acumen. It was thus nice to see your comments.

Sadly, I suspect that the finger-pointing and blame for this disaster will far overshadow the enormous benefit that was realized by all of the good engineering and preparedness that was done, along the lines of what you pointed out. Although things are far from being over, it appears that this is no Chernobyl. It's easy to say in retrospect that 'you should have planned for this', but it's nearly impossible to capture every last combination of atrocities that nature can render on a moment's notice on our feeble structures, while also making them affordable, buildable, and profitable in the first place.

So, thank you for recognizing this anecdotal, but vital, contribution to the ongoing disaster in Japan, and appreciating how much worse it could have been.

(and now see writer step off of his soap box…).




Directed by Jim Kohlberg

Reviewed by marion ds dreyfus

Cast: J.K. Simmons, Julia Ormond, Cara Seymour, Lou Taylor Pucci

Of the 39 prime movie plots, one that gets hardly any coverage or ink is that between a father and his grown son. Film writers are usually men, and men seem to be about lots of things, but apparently, according to male informants, one of them is not often family. Success. Competition. Honeys. Sports. Money. Expensive toys. But rarely hanging with a kid, nurturing recuperation in an afflicted offspring. OK: Hold the objections—how many men you know do the domestic two-step with an ailing son or daughter?

This film is different. Not only does it involve a loving if often inarticulate father, but the marriage between the parents of their brain-traumatized son is a solid one, with a loving mother and wife (British actress Cara Seymour), and a devoted if slightly old-line father. The film involves the true case of a rare sidelined recovering brain-tumor patient, Gabriel Sawyer (Lou Taylor Pucci) who is ‘treated’ for his brain lesions and deficits by the determined effort of a music therapist Dianne Daley (gorgeous, gemutliche Julia Ormond), a mother (Seymour, most recently of An Education, 2009) and determined father, Henry Sawyer (J.K. Simmons, a sturdy, if usually sour, character actor seen in a wide variety of TV and film roles) as the afflicted’s conflicted no-nonsense father.

Fresh from its acclaim at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, "The Music Never Stopped" chronicles a heartwarming trajectory of a father and son adjusting to cerebral trauma and a lifetime of missed opportunities through the music that embodied the generational breakaway of the 1960s. Based on a case study by Dr. Oliver Sacks, MD (Awakenings) the film features prominent tracks from Bob Dylan, The Beatles and Grateful Dead, Donovan and The Stones.

There is speculation that hardly needs rebuttal over the casting decisions being much more modest than they would have been had the director not had to pay out vast royalties for the costly music rights; but for all the B-roll actors cast, the truth is, they are play their parts well. It’s a breather not seeing the Hoffmans or Streeps grabbing up all the oxygen in every intimate drama on the event horizon.

Brain tumors are not, generally speaking, a sexy clay for a non-docu armature. Sacks recreates a sensitive and instructive prescription for involvement from his real-life case history. It’s a story that engages us below the neuronal threshold—we plump for Gabriel to pull through, not giving ourselves much hope that anything determinative will happen; we’re by now too entrenched in the contemporary sophisticated wine of the incurable. But seeing the nearly autistic man-boy emerge into vibrancy (Gabriel is, after all, the name of the Archangel, the Holy Messenger: Jude 1:9) with the music that sets most toes to tapping has many rewards for the viewer interested in the clinical progress of this handsome, sad, lost apotheosis of loss.

After a week of catastrophe and harrowing vision, redemption can be satisfying.

Marion DS Dreyfus . . . 20©11



According to an article in Bloomberg today the sad and dramatic events in Japan should not stop the bull market. "Global Stock Rally May Withstand Japan Disaster". "Investors said that barring a nuclear disaster, the country’s worst earthquake on record is unlikely to halt the two-year bull market in global equities". You would think that it is because of the resilience of the global economy….

Here is the "real" reason: "Bank of Japan Governor told reporters he’s ready to unleash “massive” liquidity starting this morning in Tokyo to assure financial stability". And a fund manager said:"The purely economic consequences will be modest: some reconstruction, some more government spending".

Since the 2008 crisis it has become prevalent the idea that government spending is the holy grail of economies. You have a problem ? Pump liquidity and it will go away…. You do not grow fast enough? Just plan to increase your deficit and that's it….

How can they be wrong when the stock market doubled in 2 years? But when will we wake up from this dream….(or nightmare?).

Alex Castaldo adds:

Here is the latest news headline:


That is US$85.5 billion.



 1. Today was a classic in that the frustration aggression hypothesis of stock market movements was totally satisfied. The lead S&P had been above 1300 continuously since January 31 and had not set a new 20 day low since august 26 , 2010. It had set a within day low four times below 1300 in the previous two weeks but each time closed above. The Nikkei had been above 10000 since Nov 30, 2010. Thus the evil invisible hand of the market had not been satisfied. There were stimuluses that should have led to massive selling so the strong could capture profits from the weak but an inappropriate displaced response had occurred in Skinnerian terms. There was frustration that a proper response had been blocked. An aggressive displaced action in Dollard - Millerian terms, was required. It all happened at Midnight when the Nikkei broke 10000 for a minute and the stock market broke 1300 going down to 1278 thereby luring a whole medley of weak holders and fixed system people into doing the wrong thing. Okay, finally a appropriate response happened with all the breaks. Alternatively a climax occurred, and once it did everything was de rigeur again and the market promptly was ready to go it's merry driftingly way up.

2. Could there ever have been a day when a content analysis of the news would have been more negative with floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, war, and bad economic numbers galore. All we needed to put it at all time most negative was news that the president was holding firm on trading off an increase in the service rates in exchange for a reduced budget deficit. It shows the idiocy of the programs that monitor the news to get that ever so difficult trading edge.

Ken Drees writes:

Very beautiful summary. And notwithstanding the monster earthquake (which doomers prayed homage to since the 80s as the secret to knock the Nikkei to its knees– 25 years too late and still it didn't work) and on the eve of Friday trading, this seems to be masterful piece of frustrating market action.



 There are so many distractions that try to take your focus off the market when you need it the most. Wailing sirens every hour, tsunamis, earthquakes, movies, pretty girls, boats, music, food, the news, the mideast, the electrical workers strike, thunder, lighting, vacations, family obligations, phone calls, bills, errands, and the list goes on. Obviously some require a balance. Its a common strategic trick used in other contexts of battle, combat, negotiation, art, humor, magic, romance.

Alan Millhone writes:

You make good points on distractions. I know that many on the list have no TV which plays on our emotions.

At Checker tournaments I pretty much block out all around me and concentrate on the board before me. My opponent is there but only to make their move or reply to mine. I keep a legal pad handy and record my moves and on occasion make a note beside my move here and there or same with my opponent.

I suspect the Market trader should conduct themselves in a similar way.

Craig Mee writes:

Remember Tiger Wood's father used to either yell at him or play music super loud on the putting green– one or the other, from a very early age to combat distractions.

No doubt the scalpers in the pit that excelled had mastered that area as well.



 I honestly thought as I was running down 19 floors of stairs at full pace with the building creaking and swinging like a pendulum that "this was it". It was hard to keep on your feet. Then I got out, and was running home like a rabbit. Things started to return to normal so I slowed down, but I got home and couldn't find the family. Then the aftershocks started again, and I just wanted us to be together. Phones were out on the mobile network almost straight away but then even the landlines were clogged. Needless to say, the bath is now stocked with blanket, phone, water and food… and a whistle.

Last night was a series of one aftershock after another. I feel so bad for those 300km north of us and the tragedy that is unfolding. We watched it all on the Internet unfold until 4am as we were rocked with one aftershock after the next. And we were the lucky ones. How someone can build a 27 story skyscraper that withstands that– and thank goodness, our house– I am in total awe.

Our house was trashed inside… but I don't care. We've cleaned up and although insurance will cover it, I couldn't care less. The total feeling of helplessness has now passed. I can't explain it.

All friends seem to be safe– albeit shaken AND stirred.

Youtube video of office blocks swinging.



 Mr. Universe and some of the top racquet players heft the common goals of individualism and personal perfection. A few years back, I dug into a ‘Gold’s Mine’ of training tips from Mike ‘The Mighty’ Quinn. Make that mighty, as in savvy and gracious.

‘You can make a chorus line of doctors and psychologists who disagree, but serious sports competitors need conditioning and nutritional advice to progress. Athletes discovered twenty years ago that the ones coming out on top had personal trainers and nutritionists.’

We met in 2003 in the Coral Gables Racquet Club boiler room as I strained to shove a 600 lb. extinct water heater out the door to make room for a bed. I was the new club pro. He heard the scrapping through the ceiling pumping iron, and descended to help. I tipped the heater on edge, he squatted beneath, lifted, and hauled it out the door.

‘I held the same cup as Arnold Schwarzenegger,’ he cracked, loosening the weight belt, and returned upstairs to pump iron.

That afternoon he offered training tips to me on an adjacent treadmill.

‘Let’s start nutrition with an analogy. There are Lamborghinis and Volkswagens, and owners who care for them in different ways. You can put high or low quality fuel, oil and so forth into each. At the same time, there’s a genetic predisposition to everything. My father is a butcher, as big as the beef he carves, but I don’t eat beef. Are you with me so far?

‘The intense athlete must train himself to eat every three hours. The intake should be high protein because that’s the building block of muscle. I eat chicken, protein shakes, salads, fruit and no red meat.’

He asserts the most important eating spurts are 90 minutes before, and 90 minutes after working out. ‘Build and recover,’ he keeps repeating. Interestingly, he takes some sugar with meals ‘to pull the other nutrients into the muscle cells’.

How about a training regimen for the devoted wannabe?

‘Young athletes get on the tournament court, field or mat and run out of steam before the finals. Their coaches berate them for not trying hard enough; however, in most cases, they peter out because they’ve been working too hard up to the tournament date.’

‘Here’s a training regimen for very serious players who have a low (non-playing) and high (tournament) season. In the first month of the low season, don’t play much of the prime sport at all. Train at weights and machines intensely, and for short amounts of time, with short rest periods.

’If your workouts in the first month are twice daily for an hour each, follow these principals: In the month’s course, gradually increase the intensity, decrease the rest time between exercises, and maintain the duration of the overall workout.’

He grins broadly, ‘It makes you puke’.

’In the second month of training during the low season, cut back half the weight training, while spending most the hours on the court, field or gym practicing and playing.’

‘In the third month of low season, don’t weight train at all, and don’t play hard. Eat wisely throughout the three months, and go gentle on the ladies…

a Lamborghini in the season opener!’

Quinn’s analysis of over-training supports a personal belief that I over-trained throughout a fifteen year pro racquetball career, rarely taking a day off from hours of practice (one hour), playing (two), running (one), biking (two) and lifting weights (one hour). Tournaments were breathers.

‘You never peaked!’ assays Quinn.

‘Right, but my priority was working out rather than winning tournaments. I loved it,’ I asserted.

‘Most players want to win more than that, don’t they?’ he countered.

‘Yes,’ I agreed, recollecting six national championships.

In a challenging silence, I asked to grab collars to test my better sport, judo.

He grasped my lapels at arms length, lifted me a foot off the ground, and whisked his sneaker under mine, exclaiming, ‘This is a foot sweep!’, and gently lowered me to the floor.

Quinn put me on a 3-month regimen of weights with a high-protein diet to gain slight weight and much strength, while increasing speed and stamina- can you beat that?.

‘There’s an ancient controversy of muscle vs. sport, that should be muscle and sport. The stronger the player of any sport, the greater the edge- period! However, don’t think muscle equals bulk. Think of tiny individual muscle fibers growing thicker, and stronger end attachments to the bones. This increased density is a strong muscle, not a huge muscle.’

Huge muscles are for bodybuilding, Quinn’s profession.

‘Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk) and I hold the same trophy for Mr. Universe. We just held it in different years (1984 for Quinn). Arnold is a smart, hard worker who likes to ‘bust your balls’. He and I had words once, that fortunately for each of us, didn’t go any farther. Lou, on the other hand, demands everyone’s regard for achieving greatness through deafness. He’s a friend who would have worn the green skin, even with good ears.’

Mike Quinn set the world pumping iron aflame by winning Mr. America at 18-years old. ‘It was too early to peak into fame, but I plowed on as best I could.’ Title after title, in country after country, followed. In the early 90’s, he opened two Gold’s Gyms in southern Florida, then exited business to train professional football, baseball, racket and other players. There was a two-year stint with Tae-Bo boxing guru Billy Blanks trading daily lessons-weights for martial arts.

To look at Quinn is to behold a bull with a quick glint behind the eyes. ‘I rose out of a dysfunctional family, neighborhood rubble, and attention deficit, and it’s the best inspiration I can offer whiners.’ He’s extremely graceful, honestly sociable, and highly self-educated on health, nutrition, exercise physiology and psychology. He likes to stick you between a dumbbell and a hard place with mental puzzles, and watch the workout.

As I listened to the gentle giant speak, it dawned on me that despite my life-long study of unorthodox pet and human training methods, there was not a thing to disagree with. His hair-brained theories fit my hair-brained theories to weave Sampson a wig.

Thanks to Mr. Universe Mike Quinn for the conditioning tips of a lifetime.



 Just wondering if a west coast fund's 2010 continued bond buying on the way up to the high, and their complete position liquidation in second half– might be seen as an ultimate insider trade…

See, I remember my dilemma on Oct. 13th 1989, the day later dubbed Friday the 13th in U.S. stock history.

Gold futures were closing at a relatively early 2.30pm; and somewhere in the last half-hour the newswires reported a snag in the UAL deal. In my view, S&P took out important support intraday and looked ominous from there. I began pyramiding my Gold longs, that barely started climbing late in the day from $366 to over $367 toward the 2.29pm closing minute. I was uber-confident Long "over the weekend" - but my accumulated position exceeded the overnight margin deposit requirement by an extra 1000 lots!

Thank Goodness, I employed the tallest broker at the Comex, who commanded authority in the pit -and I conveyed a very unusual order to him: show 1000 @ 367.5, but only agree to sell ALL or NOTHING. He tried to get attention of every big dealer in the usual closing minute mayhem - but got nothing, and the bell rang… In the next hour, the S&P crash got into second and third gear and spiraled into total limit-down halt… So it's Friday night, and a personal friend dealer calling: I have Goldman/Aron on the phone, they say they couldn't trade with you on the close -but asking if you could make them an EFP market for some size, they will not hold you… Well making market implied at least 40 lots. I utter 369.4/369.8; they buy 40, and I say enough…thanks. Of course, Sydney opened Sunday night with a 371 bid…

But the reason for my story is this– if I had a big brother that Friday whisper "keep buying as you please, knock yourself out… when you decide to get rid of them - we'll take the whole thing from you at the market" - would I ever halt buying and start offering?

So, conveniently, the fund kept pyramiding all the way to Aug/Sep top– and then the Bernanke was a declared taker of all of their size for the rest of the year; I doubt they ever had to hit market bids… Did I get anything wrong there?



 Concerning Gross Vs. Van Hoisington, don't listen to what they say. Listen to what they do. Or more precisely, how they've done for their customers during bull and bear bond markets:

Hoisington has one public bond mutual fund which is named the Hoisington US Treasury Fund (and he has the discretion to move his duration from 0 to 25+ years) but only owns US Treasuries. His performance is shown here.

His 1year/5year/10year returns are: 4.42%/4.77%/6.31% versus the Lehman Agg Index of 4.93/5.8/5.61. .

Pimco's Total Return Fund
can invest in all sorts of fixed income, but they keep their duration at 4.30 years +/- 2 years. Gross' 1year/5year/10year return are 7.31%/8.12%/7.16%

So — Gross has outperformed VH substantially over the past 1 and 5 years. And over the past ten years, Gross outperformed VH by about 85 basis points/year. Most importantly, Hoisington LOST 22.6% in 2009 while Gross made 13.8% in 2009. Which superficially makes Hoisington look like a one-trick bull-market pony….

George Zachar writes: 

There's an apples-oranges element to this analysis. VH has only one risk parameter to play: treasury duration. Gross can play that AND sector/credit rich/cheap. The ability to play in spread product is easily worth dozens of bp in annual performance pickup.

Both men are arguably brilliant…but they do different things with different toolkits.




 Super Moon are discussed in the two following article links and are considered by the authors to have a very small role, if any, in increased seismicity. But other effects on March 19th may appear as noted in article #1 below. Water held behind dams, however, has been looked at as a possible source of "induced seismicity" in some cases–so the effect of the weight and movement of water perhaps can not be entirely dismissed.


"So let’s hear the bottom line. Will the March 19, 2011 full moon – which coincides with the moon’s closest point to Earth – bring more earthquakes and tsunamis? Will it cause volcanic eruptions? Let me ask another question first. Why, I wonder, do people want to believe in predictions of disasters?

The moon’s distance from Earth is changing continually. The full moon on March 19 will be a close one, but there’s no scientific evidence it will cause any of those events. The March 11 moon does not prove the supermoon-earthquake theory. In fact, it disproves it. Plus we know of closer full moons than the March 19 moon that did no harm.

Will the March 19, 2011 close full moon cause floods? Yes, that’s different. Now we’re on more solid ground. Close full moons do cause maximum tidal ranges. So if a storm moves into a coastline on the day a full moon is closest, it can cause flooding along that coast. If you live along a coast, and a storm is heading your way on or around March 19 … expect possible flooding and take precautions."


'So, what can we take away from all this? * The Moon plays a very small role in increasing seismicity and volcanic activity on Earth - potentially increasing activity ~1% during full/new moons.

* The change in the gravitational pull from the Moon during apogee and perigee is small.

* Beyond this, there is no statistically-sound evidence that geologic disasters can be predicted based on lunar alignments or distance (or any other astronomical phenomena).

* The keys to understanding how to predict earthquakes or eruptions (if at all possible) lie within the Earth, not deep in space.

* From Chris Rowan: "The moon does not magically load up plate boundary faults or fill magma chambers … The most the moon can do is slightly alter the timing of an earthquake or eruption that was on the verge of happening anyway." '



 Ian Fletcher's poor grasp of economics is comical, especially in light of his obvious self-delusion that he's a deep thinker.

Here's a letter I wrote to him:

Mr. Ian Fletcher

Dear Ian:

You continue to misunderstand the case for free trade. Let's take two examples from your latest essay ("Free Trade Theory Known to be Wrong - Since 1817!"), which you exported to me yesterday by e-mail.

First, it's untrue that "The economic argument for free trade is ultimately based on the theory of comparative advantage." Comparative advantage does supply one important basis for justifying free trade. But as Adam Smith showed, specialization and exchange generate net economic gains independently of specialization according to comparative advantage. Likewise with the greater ability made possible by expanding markets for producers to take advantages of larger economies of scale.

Second, contrary to your claim, the principle of comparative advantage applies even when capital is mobile. Mobil capital can CHANGE the pattern of comparative advantage, but this mobility doesn't eliminate comparative advantage. The reason is that a producer has a comparative advantage whenever the amount of good A that he (or it) can produce relative to the amount of good B he can produce differs from the amount of good A that some other producer can produce relative to the amount of good B that that other producer can produce. Unless and until the opportunity cost of producing EVERY good and service in the world is identical for EVERY producer in the world, comparative advantage will exist and provide occasions for mutually productive specialization and trade.

Capital mobility is highly unlikely to bring about such a weird, universal equality in productive capacities. But if, per chance, it should, still no need to worry: see Example 1 (above).


Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA

Stefan Jovanovich writes:

This is an argument that only the past, present and futured tenured could love. To the now long dead advocates of "free trade" - Smith and Mill being the best known - the debate would have seemed largely useless because the term "free" is being used in a way that would have made no sense to them. Smith and Mill, like Lawrence and the other post non-progressive, unMarxist American economists who followed them, would have thought open borders - both for goods and for people - were an absurdity. What they understood "free" to mean was that the government's restrictions could only be for reasons of what the term "general welfare" once meant - i.e. people infected with smallpox should not be allowed to get off the boat. Immigration and food inspections were certainly necessary but they should not be used to restrict the otherwise "free" flow of goods and people. Tariffs were also necessary for a very practical reason: they were the easiest and least corrupt way for the national government to raise revenue. But tariffs, like immigration inspections, should not be used to hinder the volument of activity.

Mr. Fletcher may or may not be self-deluded but he strongly disapproves of the radical idea that people should be free to buy what they want to pay for with the least possible interference. Trade must be regulated "in the national interest". But, of course, it is now. The national interest includes quantity restrictions on sugar, ethanol and literally thousands of other goods. Mr. Fletcher dislikes our present trade laws because he disapproves of their preferences; but he accepts their underlying premise - the idea that the government should decide how much of various imported things Americans should be allowed to buy.

Try this for a thought experiment. Open the 1040 Instruction pamphlet and start reading; when you halfway through the first page, stop and consider this. You have just read as many words as the entire U.S. tax code contained regarding imports and exports when Robert J. Walker was Secretary of the Treasury.

One of the liberties to be treasured is the freedom not to have to pay attention to the government's detailed instructions about how to behave.



 1. One hopes that the moral of Galton's story is not forgotten by the contumele back and forth [about who first told it]. The moral is that each person makes a difference, no matter how small the contribution might be. Therefore, everyone should do the right thing. I use this story often when I hold the junta and I ask for volunteers to tell a Franklinian thing. Usually no one raises a hand. Then I tell the story and often we will have every person in the room contributing good stuff. Now it's got to the point when I asked "what books have you read or what members can we help" and the hands are sparse, I say " in that case I'll have to tell the story of the chief rabbi of Dresden." Immediately all the hands go up and the mike is passed around. This is often enhanced by Susan who starts shaking her head, "no, don't". As I am not a very good story teller and tend to be a bit lugubrious. Galton had much better luck with it, and immediately elicited 20 or 25 scientists on the dais who saw pictures of numbers in their head when they quantified.

2. It will be interesting to see if the well known effect memorialized
in EdSpec where grain prices go up following great earthquakes holds for
this one.

Ken Drees writes: 

I thought volcanic activity inspires grains that way not earthquakes– although it seems this thread has morphed chaotic.

The volcano II in Iceland that is due soon will be much more inclined to induce grain crop prices that way.

Victor Niederhoffer agrees:

Agreed. But I thought they might have the same effect.

Jeff Watson comments: 

The main way earthquakes affect grain prices is that they can impede the country movement of grain. Speculators often underestimate the importance of the correlation between transport (ease of, availability, and cost), and price in the grains.




 Popa Popa is a tiny island with a stable population. Years ago, the government mined all the gold on the island, decreed it the only currency, and put all of it into circulation and ruled that no gold be taken off or on the island (Though Popans are famed for following the rules, this is enforced with metal detectors and X-rated X-rays). Consequently, Popa Popa has no import or export business except for oil: it produces none, and is forced to import 100%.

Popans eat only pineapples (like Ramanujan, they get their B12 from insects on the fruit). All the arable land on the tiny island is planted with pineapples on three farms, and the farmers have fleets of trucks to transport pineapples to stores.

One morning Popans woke up to find that oil prices had doubled. The three pineapple farmers had a dilemma: High oil cuts into their profits, which they need to finance their many mistresses (The island was visited in the past by French painters). Do they:

1. Raise prices to maintain constant profits and diversified connubiality?
2. Maintain prices to keep customers happy and become celibate?
3. Maintain prices but also cut staff (and force them to work harder), employee perks, and office space to offset higher oil cost, and continue their sideline as HPV breeders?

(There is no law that pineapple farmers have to do the same thing, nor any preventing them from opening dairies of color)

Read more about it here



 On a day when one can be tense or at least answering calls of margin or questioning positions, I give this to all specs that aren't lurkers or bar flies:

The house of the chief rabbi of Dantzig caught fire, and the contents of his good cellar suffered. The Jews took counsel what to do for their beloved rabbi. A handsome subscription was first proposed, but overruled; then another idea was mooted, then another, each less costly than the preceding. At last it was agreed that everyone should visit the house on a certain day, bringing a bottle of fine wine. After an appropriate speech of greeting, everyone would descend into the cellar and empty their bottles into a vat prepared for the purpose. The day came, and the chief rabbi listened with delight to the flattering addresses of his guests. When the ceremony concluded, he went to the cellar with his family, all brimful of kindly feelings, to taste the result. He turned the tap, a beautiful fluid ran into his glass; he raised it with gratitude to his lips, and suddenly his countenance fell; he slipped a second time, and confirmed that the fluid was pure water. The fact was that each guest had said to himself, "What does it matter whether I put in wine which costs money or water which costs nothing? My own contribution will make no sensible difference to the total result."

I also suggest that you click on the Philosophy link of this site that is directly towards the top to the right of the letter "r" in a woman's name that is held in high regard and read the first paragraph and that which follows.

In my humble opinion, of which I hold myself accountable, too much opinion, politics, religion, and diarrhea of the mouth has been shared of late and over the last few years. It has always been present since I've been on this Spec-List and one that will always be present due to the human condition and speculation. If you feel that you don't like this then please start your own blog, self promotion, email distribution list, or newsletter.

However, there are us that remain constant. Diligent in pursuing a better way to profit. One in which follows a Scientific Method or at least a way in which that we can hold ourselves accountable or existentially are aware of our choices and what we share amongst ourselves while deviation from the philosophy is tolerated.

No, I'm not some, diehard, policeman of the List, nor dogmatic narcissitic bastard. I"m simply a speculator like yourself that wishes the Spec-List would get back to its roots as the Chair intended them to be. I've benefited from it and am grateful. If you've have too, then humbly state such. If not then please talk about bbq or something that pours wine into the Rabbi's vat that can be tested/counted or substantiated to any degree other than emotion or opinion.

With deepest respect and friendship,


p.s. No, I haven't been the victim of a margin call today.



 Tsunami sirens are wailing in Hawaii.

They are evacuating the coast.

It's just after 11 pm.

Markets in turmoil in afterhours trading.

It's interesting how Twitter and Blogs are carrying better info than either news, radio, or Civil Defense or Government. This is a very interesting article about it.



There's no doubt a direct relationship with your natural inborn refining mechanism and one's trading turnover.

It appears if you're protecting your equity curve, and have a a few losses in a row, and meanwhile have a nice profitable trade on that you're running, the only solution is too cut the profitable one as well. (since any adjustment in the market stops really need to be widened at this point when in the money, not tightened).

This, with Newton's Law, seems to make you pay double for your losses, since the profitable trade keeps running, but it's the only way it seems to keep the wolf from the door, by making a sacrifice to the market mistress, and hopefully by refining your selection criteria, so as too not achieve so many losses in a row that this proves problematic.

It also has to do with how successful you are after a profitable run, and wanting to protect, you find yourself also wanting to leverage and take advantage of the run. If this turns you can give back that hard fought gain, and need to cut that winner as well.

It's really the market's natural inbuilt refining mechanism. The costs of bad trades are not just whats upfront, but what comes from behind is really what's going to hold you back from premium performance.



Got to love it when you are 3 bucks in the money short crude, as you wake in the early hours checking the pocket watch.

Here is my thought process as a holder and trend follower:

"Ok, 3 bucks daily ranges doesn't usually extend too much more than that on a day."

"Though this could be a reversal, may push, to a 96 target next week."

"Equity holding weak, so pressure may hold"

But, I'll roll out, and watch it for a bit to protect account p and l.

Boom. Go to laptop. Scratch trade. 270 point swing in 15-20 minutes

"Gee, that was lucky for me. Guess the market as always makes the right decision for me and is a step ahead of me!"



  I must bow again to wisdom of Martin Pring who said that Bonds top first, followed within the cycle by Stocks and Commodities.

And as the upside-down man led his jumbo fund out of the Treasuries between September and February, putting relentless pressure on intermediate-to-long term rates - it all eventually caught up to the markets that were supposed to rise forever…

And we've now seen first Wheat, then Palladium and Copper, followed by Beans and Corn, and Crude and Gasoline, and finally Cotton, and eventually Gold and Silver, and Stocks all succumb to the cycle.



 This article is something I don't understand. I can understand that rewards should reflect the risk that people are willing to take. What risks do financial advisors personally take to justify the rewards they reap? It seems to me that if you take a much bigger reward than the risk you personally take, then that reward is undeserved and a pure expression of greed vs. what you're truly entitled to. Am I missing something?

Gary Rogan writes:

Clearly the flexionic millionaires don't deserve their rewards, especially after their companies should be long bankrupt if left to the vagaries of the free market. Is the remuneration of a financial adviser, who without any governmental or otherwise illegal/unethical tricks, derives good income from seemingly simple work, "justified"? I suggest that this is another "angels on the head of a pin" questions that cannot be answered, because it's "ill posed". In a free market, anything you get from a voluntary exchange is "justified" by it's existence. If you want what he's got, try it on your own and see if you can do as well or better. I personally don't believe in the services of a "financial advisor" so I've never been to one. I have the same attitude towards them as I do toward well-paid athlete in a sport I don't care about: if somebody is willing to voluntarily pay them their salary, it's not my problem or concern.

The article, in a true populist fashion, confuses ill-gotten gains with the rewards of the free market. This "trick" is a favorite of revolutionaries, who use the existence of scoundrels to destroy any semblance of order and replace it with a dictatorship led by even worse scoundrels.

Mark Goulston replies:

Thank you Gary. It is aimed at the true "flexionic millionaires," and I am in favor of the free market and oof people who are willing to put themselves and finances at risk to reap the rewards when they pay off. I'm just not sure I agree with "flexionic" people reaping the rewards as a result of their risking other people's money.

Gary, Hit me with your best shot about: The Obsfuscation Conspiracy.

Gary Rogan responds:

Mark, I think that most of the "flexionic millionaires" are probably CEOs of large, mostly (but not exclusively) financial companies and to a lesser extent, some hedge and other fund managers. It seems from the context that you were referring to the latter group rather than some down-home financial advisors who take on a few clients personally. To the extent that they derive their gains from their flexionic connection they are just thieves. The problem is it's often hard to separate what percentage of their gains comes from their honest skills and what percentage comes from exploiting the illegal/unethical schemes.

The real truth is that in complex societies those who learn to exploit complicated "angles", legally or illegally do well. We should try to clamp down on the illegality because otherwise everything else becomes corrupt, as corruption cannot be contained to one sector. The quest however to link compensation to the social value of one's work by anything other than enforcing anti-corruption laws and encouraging such attitudes is likely to become a fight with windmills or worse, a populist revolutionary crusade with disastrous consequences. Freedom trumps unfairness, but unfairness due to corruption should fought by good people.

Fast Anonymous writes:

While the flexonic millionaire are an issue. The cause of this issue is those millionaires that made their money by skimming a small sliver of risks and put it on the unsuspecting. No body has gone to jail, for this willful blindness. Not only have they not gone to jail those very workers are the new untouchable, too big too fail, in with the government: flexons. Of course they can put together a new system built on trust (wink, wink, nod, nod). We have all heard of perhaps the urban legend "penny skimming" millionaire. The con where you simply take a few pennies from every account, and 99.9% never notice but simply adjusted their books each month it happens . Those that did notice, did not take the time to complain. those that complained never sued etc.

Many in Wall Street simply skimmed the risks, added more and more risks, to those that thought they were buying safety, got sold garbage. The truth got stretched further an further out. One in 1 in million soon became 1/1000, then 1/100 then 1/10 and thereafter bound to happen sooner or latter. Allstate has done a statistical study that proves without a reasonable doubt many of these mortgage pools were outright frauds. The audacity of the lies were staggering to me. AIG sold over $500 billion of insurance on such securitized products, that they could not cover. They eagerly took the premium thinking they were the ones selling worthless promises.

Craig Mee writes:

Give people an inch and they take a mile. How long is a piece of string… if you do something, your kids will follow. At times no doubt its to do with re-educating people. For example, when countries move to a greater minority group within their populace, initially sometimes, those then deem to capitalise on looseness within the system. The locals then realise they're paying higher premiums because of this and get in on the act. And then the snowball begins. (A mate recently in court with a bad neck from car crash…usd7000 was the going rate. Turns out 8 people were sitting beside him with their hand out, all from the same family two car accident, usd 56000, a nice down payment on small business.)

As banks have been shown to "take liberty" so has the public. On a recent problem with a bank in Australia, atm's started punching out cash regardless of balance… from an official : "we have some people innocently trying to get sums of money out and being given more, through to people pushing security guards out of the way to go and get to it."*

We breed it and deliver 4 year political terms for those to give our cash away at will to secure votes in a socialist environment, and pay the consequences.what the answer. Work Harder!

The old laborer had to stand together, from such risks skimmers, to make a safe work place.

Wall Street must stand up to these skimmers of risks also.

Mr. Krisrock writes:

I appreciate that you posted this because it exposes that you are a supporter of Obama's strategy to VILIFY 500,000 people working in financial services and millions more who work in service industries that support them and the capitalist methods of allocating capital.

VERY VERY VERY few of these people were responsible for the financial crisis and in fact, some of us saw the fact that these same people never chose to attack the PUBLIC PRIVATE SYNDICATE called Fannie Mae.

Craig Mee writes:

Mr Krisrock, you may want to set your scope on a more deserving recipient. How my idea that "banks have taken liberty" has anything to do with a slam dunk and vilification of 500,000 financial service workers I don't quite understand.

I am a supporter of less taxes, that's what I'm a supporter of, and a fair go, for those who are having a crack.

Kim Zussman comments:

The meme gains momentum.

Ralph Vince writes: 

It's ALL about money. Nothing else. In ALL walks of life, medicine, teachers, cops, politicians, waitresses, hookers, traders and traitors. Pretending to be "Above it all," is alway, bankably, a phoney act. All the little people's greed is always at the fore of their consciousness (excepting in young men, where that greed is surrogated by something else).

And who says the compensation should be consistent with the risks one takes? Or the good one does? Or their intellect?

I love that expression "…what you are entitled to." It rather rings of the other one those kind of thinkers lob out there, "…fair share."

It's enough to make you think we don't really live in a jungle. My experience, is that these are expressions of the largest predators among us, their weaponry consisting of the very specious argument that we are not in a jungle.

Let's not believe that for one second.

Gary Rogan writes:

The way the world really works is that if you unleash the government to take from those who have to cure sick patients and to house homeless children, you will have more patients unable to pay and more homeless children. Not immediately though. The liberal argument is always about here and now: "If we take the money today, we can spend more of it on worthy causes immediately. How can you not see that those in pain deserve it more than the rich who have more than enough?". Michael Moore who inserted himself into the Wisconsin crisis the other day went further. His claim was that we don't have ANY financial crisis and no government is broke because there is this untapped resource which really belongs to "the people", the wealth of the rich, that is simply not being tapped.

The real argument in Wisconsin is actually more about power than money. In this case the money, more specifically the forcefully extracted union dues of the public employee union members, is what has kept the Democrats in power in a self-sustaining feedback loop: we give you more secure and better paying jobs, you keep getting us elected with your contributions. The left is having the proverbial cow that the election process has somehow gone so wrong as to break this loop. Their reaction is bewilderment and blind rage.



 Without going into too much detail on the matter, there is a terrible amount of inspiration for traders in studying Hannibal's victory at Cannae, his march of 100,000 infantry, cavalry and African elephants from Spain, up through the Italian Alps (!), down the Lombard plain and spine of Italy to Cannae. Hannibal's marching and battlefield tactics are replete with examples of tenacity, perseverance, deception, offensive and defensive psychology, adaptability, everything required of today's trader. In short, Robert L. O'Connell's Ghosts of Cannae is a profoundly interesting and entertaining read.

Peter Grieve comments: 

The Romans' steadfast response to Cannae and their eventual victory through Fabian tactics are worth thinking about also. And note how much gratitude "The Delayer" Quintus Fabius Maximus received for saving Rome.

Stefan Jovanovich writes: 

I think traders would find more useful information in a study of Fabius Maximus (from whom we get the term "Fabian" strategy - which the NY Times and others persist in attributing to the Fabian Society ) and a reading of Dexter Hoyos' book. Hannibal's Dynasty: Power and Politics in the Western Mediterranean, 247-183 BC is a expensive ($30 for even the Kindle edition) but it will give SpecLististers the back story– how the Barca family's rise to power affected Carthage's own choices and how, even as they won all the battles, the Barcas lost all in the Second Punic War.

P.S. Denis Feney's comparison with Stalingrad is another of Times' wonderful bits of nonsense. Professor Feney has the comparison absolutely backwards. Paulus' surrender was a defeat but it was hardly a destruction of the Wehrmacht. It was the Red Army that had already suffered 3 successive Cannaes (Minsk, Smolensk and Kiev) even before Paulus' army reached the Volga. The lessons of history are useless if you insist on only reading its book back to front.

And - I hope Jay would agree - the context has to include an understanding of how much the Roman's collective arrogance was fueled by the tension between the presumed aristocrats and the nouveaus; even the "hooray for our side" accounts make it clear that Varro and Paullus were spending far more time worrying about which one of them would wear the victor's wreath than they were spending in thought about what the stupid barbarians were up to.



My early pro career was playing hard for tournament T-shirts and trophies, plus perfection. The attitude hasn't changed over the increasing prize-money years, except I'm grateful not to hitchhike around the nation to senior tournaments.

Have my patience from these early excursions where, one sunny Nebraska day, I learned the granddaddy secret of all racquet sports and others using a stinking implement- horizontal fences and vertical telephone poles.

Gym bag in hand, and thumbing rides with the other, I peered at a rockpile alongside the road, and then up-and-down at a telephone pole behind a rail fence. I dropped everything to throw rocks with a mind's eye on sport. The basic throwing motions were sidearm, overhand, underhand, ¾ overhand and ¾ underhand. The conclusion was the most accurate, by far, for the telephone pole, was the overhand throw. Bam, Bam BAM the rocks struck the post.

Gathering more rocks, I eyed the horizontal fence rail. The sidearm throw produced a huge correlation with smash, Smash, SMASH.

Even with the off-left hand, the overhand pounded the vertical, and the sidearm the horizontal.

Take a moment to ponder, why, and what are the targets in tennis, squash, racquetball, badminton, baseball, football throw, soccer, even golf or a martial arts blow?

My expertise is racquetball and paddleball, where the horizontal and vertical targets are for killshots and down-line passes, respectively. Each target lies in a narrow horizontal (and vertical) plane that spreads from point of contact on the racquet forward.

In these sports, a 1'-high stripe or tape is applied to the front wall from sidewall-to-sidewall, like a squash tin, except with a different strategy. The real or imaginary 'tin' resounds from a killshot with a bang!. The most noise is generated on the forehand sidearm swings like a baseball bat, and on backhands like a Frisbee throw.

The down-line pass, oppositely, requires vertical accuracy to insure it within an upright alley along either sidewall. This shot is the second only to the killer in a racquetball arsenal, yet discover for yourself with anything you wish to hit, fling, pass or kick that vertical accuracy is honed with an overhand (or underhand softball pitch) action.

Winning is all about increasing your margin of stroke error.

A quick analog shows the work: A right-handed baseball batter swings at a fastball, and then at a change-up, that angle in sequence down the right and left sidelines. The batter's bat was 'late' on the first pitch (behind the ball), and 'early' on the second (ahead of the ball). You may also see this in every other racket sport, especially the zealous tennis vertical overhead early into the net.

However, in racquetball for horizontal kills, it really doesn't matter if you're late or early in the contact zone, because whether the ball angles right or left off the racquet is immaterial. It still hits the target tin. The advent of the speedy ball in many racket sports met with a deeper, crisper strike with a flattened face to allow nanoseconds extra set-up time, and using a lower grip to square the face with the front wall. Take a side swing for greater stroke forgiveness on kills, or tennis shots that brush the net, or squash nicks just over the tin.

Similarly, the margin of error for racquetball pass shots, tennis line serves and squash rail shots is better a looping vertical stroke that, if struck late or early, simply lifts higher or lower to hit the vertical target. Now, think of activities where an edge goes with selecting a three-quarter motion for dual horizontal and vertical accuracies. Examples are throwing a baseball to first base, archery, and avoiding an eagle in the pilot's seat. Edges repeated thousands of times spell a winning tide.

Now, leap to an understanding that the 'moment' of contact is a miniature unfolding of the full stroke. This small, time-measureable scenario of strings-on-ball recapitulates the larger stroke. The more proficient the player, the greater insight and longer the moment seems, yet all are assured the 'travel' of racket-on-sphere is longer and farther than you suspect.

Ergo, the interface is influential, I propose, more so than the stroke.

Having swung everything from my Complete Book of Racquetball, bleach bottle, 4'' mini-racket, and Converse shoe against Miss World, the premise is that the touted ideal stroke in any sport shrinks in import to the ensuing moment of contact. Precision is born during travel.

Instant replay: Run a mind's movie of the strings-on-ball during, say, a travel of half-second and two inches. Stop action: This few frames sequence determines the destiny in of the flying projectile. The more 'elastic' the moment, the fewer frames, and more difficult to control.

If during the interface the swing is level, despite being late or early, then horizontal accuracy propels the ball; or, if during travel the racquet angles up-to-down, or vice-versa, then vertical is mastered.

Years later, I presented the concept at a Florida clinic and asked the group why it was so that sidearms make better kills and vertical strokes better alley passes. A 12-year-old piped, "Because the contact stripes are in the same planes as the target stripes." There is no more succinct an explanation. I made it to the Colorado racquetball tourney, and beyond hitched and hoboed to hundreds more, all the while tossing stones, swatting flies, and ducking a few, that engineered a decade win streak after the original thrown rock.



Something just occurred to me that the Heat with their 5 game losing streak and still at the top of the Southeastern are playin' the Lakers with their 8 game winning streak tonight and are gettin' 2 1/2 points at home tonight at 7pm. The term "beatin' favorite" comes to mind? Surely, if the streak is extended to 6 consecutive losses and the trough of humiliation is reached at the hands of Mr. Bryant then the "beatin' favorite" must be doubled down against Memphis on Saturday?



 There's something about the Miller Lite commercial that shows a kid saying "I don't care" whether he gets a Miller Lite or any other brand, with the female bar tender looking at him with disdain and saying, get rid of those European bikini briefs you are wearing, or get rid of the bronzer or sun tan equipment he's using, that is truly indicative of the collectivist psyche. It's anti trade because it's a disguised mercantilist rant that we're hurting the trade deficit by buying European, and it feeds upon envy of those who have money. It comes right out of Gene Schwartz's book Breakthrough Advertising by hitting on emotions that (in this case) are brought out by the crony capitalism et al.



Nice flexionic move at close of yesterday where it went down 1/2 % in 15 minutes from 4:00 pm to 4:15 pm Eastern Std Time. With the flexions' decision of the downgrade of Spain being announced 9 hours later at 1 am Eastern. s.t.. Similar moves in European stock markets. The move from 4:00pm to 4:15 pm being one of 3 largest in last year and a half.



In 1883 Emma Lazarus wrote "The New Colossus" as a donation to a Statue of Liberty building fund. The poem concludes with these lines:

"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Since the fall of communism in Eastern and Southern Europe, China, and the former USSR, and the move from nationalism and socialism in India and much of Africa, huddles masses have been streaming to fast-expanding cities around the world. Lacking economic freedom and rule of law institutions, wealth creation in cities of the developing world is distorted and slower than it could be. But technology advances dramatically reducing the price of food, transportation, and clothing in recent decades partially compensate.

Edward Glaeser in "Triumph of the City" comments that there is "a lot to like" in the shanty towns of the developing world. They seem terrible places for homeless families, and for the homeless without families, but compared to what? Compared to the reality of rural poverty in the developing world, urban poverty turns out to be a step up for most. A Manhattan Institute review observes: "Even the worst cities—Kinshasa, Kolkata, Lagos—confer surprising benefits on the people who flock to them, including better health and more jobs than the rural areas that surround them."

It is very, very good news for the coming decades to have hundreds of millions of people on the path to prosperity that often begins by looking for work in cities. As labor becomes more plentiful, capital becomes relatively more scarce, and returns on capital will improve.

Paul Romer's "Charter Cities" proposals are among the many ideas for improving cities and speeding the development process. (Another is the Hernando de Soto's project to push governments to recognize the informal legal norms that operate among the poor.)

 These issues matter because the nationalist delusion confuses our thinking about international issues like Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan. These are make-believe countries left over from colonial times. It is up to tribal people living in the cities within the borders of Libya to decide if they want a future democratic nation-state to continue to rob them, or whether a formal or informal alliance of cities might suit them better.

 Nationalist scholars have long bewitched the public into thinking national governments are sources of stability and prosperity. Every crisis brings breathless media reporting on government officials meeting, then announcing plans, initiatives, and policies, pretending they know what is going on and what should be done about it. Congress, the Federal Reserve, and Federal regulatory agencies claim to be fine-tuning the economy, protecting workers and consumers from predatory business practices, and securing the general welfare. (And states run the schools to teach children civics and the history of wise governments.)

Not states but cities are the dynamic engines of economic development. People gathering together in cities create ever more opportunities for gains from trade, gains from specialization and division of labor, and gains from cross-fertilizing technologies and enterprises. Successful cities don't need to be as big or a prosperous as New York City or Boston or London, but they do need enough economic freedom to maneuver around local officials and entrenched elites. Cities like Cleveland and Detroit are burdened with thousands of regulations, licensing restrictions, arbitrary taxes, and corrupt city agencies, and now lack prosperous industries creating enough wealth to cover their tax and regulatory overhead.

A century and a half ago, New York City was as poor as any big city in today's developing world. A few months ago I read the Horatio Alger, Jr. novel, "Ragged Dick or Street Life in New York with the Bootblacks." This short novel is full of scenes of 1860s New York City street life. Though written for young people, Alger's novels on "Street Life in New York City" are realistic, fun, and fascinating. They tell stories that are true in all times and places: success is never certain, but progress depends on the everyday virtues of honesty, savings, and self-improvement.

And Alger's novels are full of scoundrels. Young americans would do well to learn more of the many deceptions and cons that surrounding them, always preying on those wishing too much for too little. Each day we hear get-rich-quick advertisements on talk radio (conservative talk radio especially), we read or glance at endless email scams (as we check or spam folders), and we regularly hear of multi-level marketing claims, stock and commodity promotions, and, of course, the misleading statements made daily by politicians. These are all tricks and deceptions similar to those practiced daily in 1860s New York City.

On the other side of the planet a century and a half later, the Chinese movie of rural China, "Not One Less" tells the touching story of a young girl teaching at a village school. The movie's realistic portrayal of rural poverty explains why tens of millions of Chinese migrate illegally to cities. The young teacher is told she will be paid only if no students run away to the nearby city.

 The movie has a surprise at the end, and there is a key scene when the runaway boy is being driven back from the city and is interviewed by TV reporters. They ask him about city life (where he was alone and hungry before clearing tables at a small restaurant): "The city was wonderful," he says, smiling.

I wonder if Horation Alger novels are available in the developing world? I just finished "Ben, the Luggage Boy" and it includes footnotes where Alger cites newspaper articles or personal interviews with the real boys whose stories are part of the novel. I expected in Alger's novels to have fanciful rags to riches themes ("Horatio Alger stories"). But the five or six Alger novels I have read so far are more "rags to a new suit and stable income" stories. The key is always the decision to think ahead, and the decision to begin savings and self-improvement. Each young man is struggling upward, through a world of opportunities, but also through a world teaming with con-artists, thieves, bullies, and occasional friends.

Here is link for "Ben, the Luggage Boy" at Project Gutenberg:

In this book a stubborn ten-year-old runs away to New York City after a fight with his father. Arriving in the city, he looks around for work and learns quickly from other street kids. Like a cat gone feral he gradually comes to get by making enough day-to-day, but also gradually forgetting his early home life and book-learning. He adjusts to enjoy life in the city, with its wide variety of work and fun, including occasional cheap cigars and evening entertainment. Later on an incident motivates "our hero" to reform and start savings.

What does all this have to do with investing? Well, consider the numbers: New York City in 1870 was home to over 1 million of which at least 500,000 were immigrants. In 2010, New York City is listed as having nearly 10 million, and 350 cities around the world have over one million residents. None are as economically free as New York City was in 1860, but now all have relatively cheap clothes, Internet, and cell-phones. Increased trade, travel, and international investment, combined with communications technologies, open the door for tens of thousands of new textile, light manufacturing, and service enterprises. Teenagers in rural India advise grandfathers in America how to operate their cell phones and computers (though partly because U.S. regulations make it difficult for U.S. teens to provide consulting services for pay). Communications technologies cheap in any city open windows to the world.

 For energy or resource crisis, every disaster scenario fear-mongers can dream up (and politicians sometimes turn to reality), a hundred astounding advances stand ready to stimulate the mental energy and active innovation and collaboration of young people around the world. Millions of young people have only just arrived in a city, and their eyes, ears, and minds are just opening as they tap into the the worldwide streams of new ideas. Every day around the world, an 1860s version of New York City lifts a lamp for the "huddled masses yearning to breathe free" after endless generations of rural poverty.

Stefan Jovanovich comments:

A minor quibble: the immigrant populations in New York, San Francisco and the other American cities in 1870 were almost all adults. Passage to America in 1870 was still expensive enough that it had to be worked for; few families in Ireland, Italy and Poland could then afford the cost of bringing the kiddies. That came later with the acceleration of the steam engine revolution; that order of magnitude expansion in the efficiency of steam propulsion reduced ship and rail transport costs to the point that entire villages would empty overnight once the news reached them that a month's wages could buy a ticket to New York and beyond. Lazarus' poem became famous precisely because it was so prescient a prediction.



 It was the night before Christmas when I stepped down into the Idaho basement and beheld a horsehair mat measuring six-by-eight 10-year-old strides that changed my life.

The next morning the real gift came when dad took off a bowtie and younger brother Tom opened a big box of boxing gloves. We descended the stairs, and had at it. Thrice weekly for an hour, the bouts alternated among boxing, wrestling and judo for years.

Parents should wonder what martial art to place their youngster in, that will alter his thinking, movement and life choices. Having dabbled in most of the sports from the horsehair mat to asphalt alley, here's a quick rundown.

Boxing: The attack and defence is with the fists. The hands are wrapped and gloved, and head put in a helmet to prevent injuries. I've done enough boxing to say it's a great sport from a distance. I gave it up at the YMCA after getting so pummelled and pooped that there seemed no need to raise the elbows above the supper table for a day. It's a great sport for those who stick with it, teaches importantly getting hit is no big deal, and will get you by nicely in most street scrapes.

Judo: The name means gentle way, and was my forte for ten years. The opponent's center of gravity and momentum are utilized to throw him around like a rag doll, without injury to anyone. It is superior because of 'hands-on' training, quick gains, aerobic and anaerobic condition, and is the best progress to balance and tumbling. There is no better way to learn to read a person's body language in every situation.

Wrestling: This is the most superior martial art that I had a love/hate relationship for many years. I practiced so hard, adored the move and counter chains, and half the time ended up flat on my back in front of jeering fans and my sad parents. Nonetheless, if you don't know what to do after school, go to the wrestling room and get an epiphany for life.

Karate: The term means empty handed, and is a practical self-defense appended by a philosophical touch. Strikes with the hand or foot stop just short of contact. It involves tedious repetitions that, in college threw my elbow and knee joints out of whack from jerking to a stop. There are more efficient ways to exercise or learn combat.

Ballet: Is too a martial art, especially for an uncoordinated person.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: This is a self-defense system and martial art that emphasizes taking an opponent to the ground and applying submission holds such as joint-locks and chokeholds. The premise is that most of the advantage of a larger, stronger foe comes from superior reach and more powerful strikes, that are negated on the ground. My practicing friends call it 'tackle-and-choke', and there's something refreshing and potent about simplicity where there are so many choices.

Kickboxing: A popular blend of karate and boxing, especially in Thailand where after public contests I've been invited, as the only Caucasian spectator in the crowd, to dojos to train with the athletes. I trained little, watched a lot, and surmised (as in other contact sports) it's good to learn to take blows, plus it builds character and very strong legs. However, it's inferior as a defense to all the other contact arts.

Full contact Karate: To me, this is the only Karate. I took a year of contact-less in college and the big problem is that after a few months of pulling thousands of kicks and punches short of target, or striking a defenseless sawdust bag, one suddenly finds himself in a rough place with a false glow of confidence. There's a split-instant hesitation before striking as the muscle memory kicks in to actually hit a person… and by then it's too late. But Full Contact is a true self-defence with protective pads and helmets during practice for safety.

Ultimate Fighting: It's an American martial arts' fest where fighters from different disciplines fight to submission or knockout. I've known a few ultimate fighters, usually type A personalities in gorilla bodies, who admit it's a bloody, real test. The best are former collegiate and Olympic champion wrestlers.

Kung Fu: The term means a skill or ability to do something, hence is aggressive. Also referred to as Wushu, a modern name for Chinese martial arts, I once lived with a practitioner/owner of a dojo who was also a telepath, according to publicity (not mine), and he challenged Sugar Ray Leonard in the boxing ring blindfolded using just his feet. It never happened, but he did get on 'That's Incredible.' Sharp kicks and blows are applied to pressure points on the body, and once I wrestled the housemate who in the first three seconds touched each of about two dozen pressure points, and I gasped.

Thai Chi: Throughout Asia, one sees seniors practicing katas in front yards and parks, content and oblivious to passers-by, dogs and traffic. For this reason, it seems a good meditative activity, develops body awareness and sequential thinking, but is too static to be considered a martial defense or aerobic activity. There are faster-motion forms, but the martial aspect requires years of training.

Aikido: The self-defense resembles a harmonious dance on the mat or street, until suddenly a lock is applied to neutralize or control the opponent. There are chains of beautiful applications of leverage across joints, and circular movements within a contained mat area that teach discipline and respect. I've watched practice sessions, and had an elbow and knee bent to testify the efficacy. At the highest level, the defender hurts no one, only leads the red-faced attacker away by a bent finger or ear. This is the first horsehair sport I would encourage my child to undertake.

The above list (from about 50 martial arts practiced around the globe) includes the most popular and ones with which I have some familiarity.

The benefits of martial arts cannot be underestimated. They include:

General fitness and coordination.
Decision making, including cross-over training for chess, bridge and many jobs.
A discipline to greet new challenges by forming a strategy, and to adjust or stick with it to a goal.
Confidence in mastering new situations.
A mindset to find a correct frame of thinking to greet novel scenarios.
The grasp of chained sequences in thought and movement.
Respect for an instructor, and others.
Testing and learning one’s limits, hence humbleness.
Boost in general self-esteem as other life challenges, physical and mental, are met cheerfully.
A habit of accomplishment from training with many little steps and progressions.
Increased productivity in school or business
The confidence to strike out to new grounds, and travel.
Inner peace.
Meet worthy people.
Burn off a kid’s energy with a better night’s sleep for everyone.

T.K Marks writes: 

Bo Keely's thoughts and experiences are an enthralling memoir waiting to happen. At once picaresque in its tone and regimented in its discipline, his stories exude the charming rogue paradigm. He's an original.

P.S. Met up with Omid last night for dinner and he told me that come this summer he's considering "riding the rails" again with Dr. Keely. I could see handy-with-a-camera O getting some video grist out of something like that. The wild thing being that none of it would be staged.

P.S.S. Where did you find Bo Keely?

Victor Niederhoffer writes: 

We met at a racquetball tournament. 



 This question is for the grain trading experts on this list…

I'm a novice at trading commodities and am still learning the ropes but have been focused on corn and wheat since last June…Please forgive me if this is an incredibly naive question to ask…

I've noticed in the last few sessions that nearby old crop corn has been correcting well off its highs, whereas new crop December corn closing prices have been holding in a very tight range. Does anyone have any thoughts on why this is happening?

I can understand the theory that new crop corn may not move up as much as old crop right now because the total plantings devoted to new corn are still wide open, and the nearby price level is encouraging farmers to lean towards corn when making crop choices for December, I find it interesting that December corn has not really budged downward as old corn has corrected.

Just trying to get ideas on possible explanations and maybe get a meal out of this situation…



The market seemed nervous yesterday. It had a lot of travel with some good pumps. Fewer bids and offers on CME. Market was down a bit last night. The contract roll is a bit unnerving with the backwardation. On the macro front, gas is really expensive here, $4.19 and its eating into disposable income.



 While his recent blunder in purchase and recent sell of Bank of America for a 2/3 loss according to Bloomberg has been widely reported, it puzzles me. If the press is not playing favorites, why is more is not written about how the stock he sold throughout his history has performed, such as the article Markman once wrote on picking delisting of S&P 500 stocks? Yes, care must be taken to recognize there will be those hopeless going to zero.

But would an equal weight average under of over perform? Is there such a study? For a person about whom it is widely reported that his holding period is forever, those stocks he sold should be of interest to the public.

No matter the answer, that it is not widely published speaks volumes. It seems to be either a case of complete bias, or being too lazy to do the numbers themselves, and only relying on Buffett's media campaign giving them the study to publish.

The media does not care. Either way it does not fit their agenda. If it over performs, it is simply a matter of saving the sage's reputation for future articles with a preferred slant. If it under performs, what good would such a press reel do for Buffet's current portfolio. Hence it was not spoon fed to the media by his propaganda machine. Likewise if it is fairly neutral, it would at least imply that person was expecting to outperform the market. This was a proabaly a good move. But such a further drop in the stock price after it is unloaded, does nothing for Buffett's future returns.



 I am sorely tempted, having bought a far out of the money position expiring in October, to offset the cost by selling nearer term options in the coming months. Were it a blitz chess game I would play this move immediately. But as I am resolved to stay within a rigorous preset plan, I am sitting on my hands.

Phil McDonnell adds:

One strategy you could think about is calendar rolls. Sell the March, let it expire, then the Apr and so on. If the underlying reaches the strike price, dump it all. That will be your peak profit.

Laurence Glazier responds:

After thinking more I've realized it is probably best not to sell nearer term calls against the one I hold. A good job I sat on my hands.

My positions are carefully selected to have a chance of doubling in value, and if this happens I close them.

I imagine that converting to a calendar spread would not be compatible (the short call would weigh against the profits). But selling a call expiring at the same date but more out of the money would, I suspect, make doubling more likely and might increase my choice of candidate positions - though there would be more commission charges.

Of 10 positions I have thus far closed since starting this strategy in November, 5 doubled– so I think it worth keeping the plan going. 



 Once more, like clockwork each month, the Treasury comes to the table to sell 3 yr, 10 yr and 30 year bonds and on half of the last 6, they have received a terrible beating and warning from the vigilantes.

The 10 year bond is surprisingly close to the 30 year bond in price given the talk about raising short term rates in Europe, and the always concerted actions of the central banks.

The outcome in the Mideast will be harmonized by International and National authorities not entirely in the corner of Israel, and this would appear to be the main reason that oil rears its head above 100 and that the sagacious market is down some 6% at 1270 from its 1340 levels 1 month ago.

The grains have retraced almost their entire loss of the previous month and are near their highs.

A reading of Classical Economics by Thomas Sowell at the recommendation of Gene E from Barron's reveals that the classical economists felt that all government interventions in their day had the main purpose and effect of benefiting their friends and cronies thereby leaving the common folk with great detriment relative to where they would have been without the interventions in favor of a favorite group of big industrialists and financiers. Adam Smith cut rite to the bottom line when considering the mercantilist policies and fallacies of his day and ours " Trade is good because it increases the total output so there is more to divide between the two countries ".

I have given up reading the National Enquirer because it has stopped publishing rags to riches stories and its advertising is no longer at the cutting edge and have moved to the Globe and Cosmopolitan and New York Post as the only hard copy newspapers I buy. I liked the Globe's coverage of the fury at the Oval because they were not invited to the Royal wedding because of the returned Churchill and Camilla's jealousy and I like Cosmopolitan because they cover many ways of short term deceit to gain fulfillment with their obvious implications for luring market people into doing the wrong thing for short term gain, and I like the New York Post because they can be counted on to be ahead of the pack in memorializing the shortcomings of the Knicks. The book On Fencing by Nadi is one of my favorite books and is always worth rereading along with Bacon, Green, and Heyne.



 It seems logical to increase the money supply during a liquidity crisis, as happened in 2009. But to persist in money creation when the crisis has passed and in the teeth of rampant inflationary signals seems sinister to me, akin to what Keynes termed the Euthanasia of the "Rentiers" - meaning (apparently wicked) people with savings.

This is manifestly unjust and can only be explained as a form of debt default, albeit masquerading as economic stimulus. If inflation is rife rates should be raised, it's that simple. I am writing this from England where the disjunction between current inflation and the B of E discount rate is more manifest than in the U.S. - and clearly a species of theft.

I was one of the first to argue for Q.E. 1, as early as 2008. I was something of a lone voice. But now that deflation has been averted rates should be hiked, irrespective of the national debt. If deflation returns then at that time they can lower the rates.



 I was recently talking to my friend about how houses can be bought on 80% or 90% "margin," with fixed interest rates, in effect, being a giant option on the US dollar, favorable to the real estate owner in times of inflation, when real interest rates can be negative. He thought that was how most people who make money on real estate make money on real estate, although few talk about it this way.

It's an interesting point. If stocks and real estate borrowing were on equal terms (mortgage ~ margin) and both were able to refinance to take advantage of declining rates, stocks would out-perform. But they are not the same. With high loan/value risk is borne mostly by the lender whereas upside goes to the borrower. Even more so now with mandated principal write-downs in the cards.

More generally, what fraction of the very wealthy got that way without taking great advantage of credit-risk differences between lenders and borrowers?



 Growing up (which takes a lifetime) is like finding out what kind of canoe you're in - and learning how to row it safely and effectively - and learning to accept yours is not the best in the race.

The genetic factor in IQ is well established, which doesn't (and shouldn't) stop anyone from attempting to improve their knowledge and skill at reasoning. That said, people with no facility at math shouldn't aspire to be physicists, and good-looking, loquacious, charming people shouldn't sit all day behind a computer.

There is evidence that this analysis pertains to optimism/pessimism. Some investors may find they do very well in exuberant bull markets but crash when things go bad; others miss out on "irrational" bull runs, but cautiously avoid crashes. How would society look if everyone had the same rosy disposition, and philosophy that everything bad is temporary and will ultimately and triumphantly reverse by dint of inherent human goodness, the American way, and our G-dly chosen-ness amongst a universe of 10^100^100 habitable planets?

Pessimism (skepticism, risk-aversion, worry, etc) has its place. Some fraction of Jews living in pre-Nazi Europe fled at a time when others deemed flight too fearful and overwrought, with well known results. The survival/perpetuation of fear and pessimism in the population is evidence that it has value. And the difficulty buying when the world is on fire, and holding when money is free illustrates why the rich are in the minority, most heroes are dead, and Gini ratios naturally go up until acted on by the hands of governments or G-ds.



 Bud Muehleisen won a record 69 national and world championship titles. I once went in his attic and found stacks of trophy plates removed (the cups donated to kids' charities), and a thick scrapbook that opened with a clipping, 'Birdy Basher Bud Muehleisen wins Navy championship'.

However, what caught my attention was a certificate for #1 standing in his university dentistry clinic. I asked, how, and what's the relationship to sport?
Dr. Bud gazed down through spectacles and said, 'Players can learn a lot about their games, and lives, by examining personal intensity on the set-up and swing.
'The most important place for a personal rheostat is on the swing. Strokes aren't knee-jerk reactions that turn on or off. Slide the action along an intensity from low to high. Try two things: Increase swing force just 10% on a few shots, and see what happens. Then, lower swing force by 10%, and think about it. The adjustment one way or the other should prove beneficial.'

You may tinker with stroke intensity on the whole, or by dissecting the many variables: A change in overall body tension, a sharpening mental focus, altering the body coil or wrist snap, step into the ball, and so forth. Work on the variables one-at-a-time.

 Yet, the normal method in a tournament match is to adjust the stroke rheostat remotely by psyching up or down a tad (start with a 10% change). The body will follow suit with a resultant smoothing out of swing. This corrects the three most hideous errors in crucial rallies- over-hitting, under-hitting or fainting away.
It accordingly zeros in on three court personalities: the Good, Bad and Ugly:

The Good jovial lazy bones slaloms between hits for fear of stepping on his opponent's toes and upsetting karma. There have been Good champions in all sports from Mike Ray in racquetball to boxing's great Joe Lewis.

The Bad player is so wound up by the coin toss that he doesn't wind down until match point. He operates at such high intensity the match becomes an attrition of energies. Sudsy Monchik's patented strategy to 'turn up the heat' from first serve increasing to last, won an unprecedented 50 pro tournaments.

The Ugly, like big-time wrestlers, employ ostensibly whacko rheostats to turn each sporting moment to unpredictability. People do not want to be near you when you act crazy.
If you're not already a champ, how can Muehleisen's Rheostat carry these racquet personalities to greater success? What are the defenses?

The Good should take an intensity supplement on shot setups, that trickles to other areas of the court. It yields instant results for languid players who shift just one higher gear on setup, swing, mental attitude, and court scramble. Curiously, it produces a style displayed by legendary Cliff Swain gliding about the court until planting for the swing, and he lightly jerks to focus.

The Bad should maintain his excellent high intensity throughout the match, except regulate it down (10%) on the swing to avoid over-hitting. Slowing the swing a tad relaxes the body a lot.

The Ugly is a tough crack, but I'll clue you that champs like Hulk Hogan and Charlie Brumfield own fine control over their irregular rheostats to orchestrate show to victory. You may enhance personal nuttiness by playing for bets, against gorillas, or simulations of tournament pressure.

The defenses against each of the three are reversing their rheostats. Turn on the heat with drive serves, harder shots, and body contact against the dopey Good player to shake his strategies. Turn down the intensity against the Bad competitor who hates a slow game of lob serves, ceiling shots and timeouts. Finally, ignore the antics of the Ugly who, given a driving, extended three-game match, melts in the back corner like the Wicked Witch of the West.

Dr. Bud's Rheostat worked for me.



 Getting Gold right is, in fact, harder than getting other (more widely-held markets) right. Over the short-term, Gold is always prone to un-calculable official verbal suasion, geo-political surprise or a gargantuan fund allocation/divestiture. One example is this morning's yet another newswirereport:

I'm a trader at heart. Trying to pinpoint near-term reversals is an exciting daily exercise for me. There is, however, a global crowd of Gold Bugs, and it's growing larger each day now, in 2011. Government actions around the world, U.S. included, generate more and more disappointment and rebellion. This rebellion slowly but surely translates into action on shareholders' behalf against each government's respective "stock certificate" - their currency. Not many global currency equivalents exist - thus Gold, and even "poor man's gold" Silver get a huge near-term shot in the arm. Precious metals bull run, in it's second decade now, appears invincible, and not subject to any upside cap - as the price scale is denominated in paper currency, which Gold Bugs assume trending to zero! Thus, more and more investors enter the space "for the long haul"; they condition themselves to be un-fazed by any near-term technical fluctuations. What gets missed in that type of investing is that, in speculative financial markets, long-term is the sequence of short-terms! Therefore, in my opinion, every long-term un-capped Bullish outlook errs in one assumption: that everything else will remain unchanged. Given that assumption, one can quite logically project that no paper price: $1500, $2000, $5000, $100000 is liable to cap Gold. Just like $147 Crude of 2008 was "surely" going to $250 according to many oil industry pundits - who assumed everything else static. But a single U.S. government action of moral suasion vis-a-visVitol

see this article

caused trend reversal to down; then equity market contraction domino effect perpetuated new downtrend all the way to "unfathomable" lows in the $33 handle within the same year!

This example only serves to illustrate that even with Gold (let alone Silver) - there is still a possibility that any technical correction may prove more bigger for Gold Bugs than their ability to stay solvent. Thus, timing still has its place - even within this newly found religion.

So here is my current assessment of this arcane space: because of a protracted run-up without a significant correction, Longs are more dangerous at this point than Shorts. Speculators should be timing their Short entry, based on their chart feel, experience with "calendar" technical set-ups, inter-market indicators (i.e. clues from other leading markets), anticipation of news headlines and of likely reaction to news.

I venture and anticipate the following: despite Monday's classical intra-day reversal down from new highs - Bulls have not converted. They think: so what that Gold, Silver, Euro, Copper, Crude, Gasoline and Cotton all dropped from new highs - they didn't drop much, and are now appearing to retrace their losses. My opinion: the reason they didn't drop much by Tuesday - is because Monday's "Short play on gap-up to new highs" was soooo obvious - that too many short-term traders ventured in! It doesn't mean the idea of Shorting lofty levels to make a quick buck was wrong - it just wasn't destined to be the big trend-reversal trade. So there is good chance that all those Bull trends persist through Wednesday and even Thursday. Then Friday should prove a different story. And when the second downside reversal takes hold - do not bet that it will be as short-lived.

Most Gold and Silver traders will key off the Crude, Stocks, Bonds and Currencies for clues. I would certainly add Copper and Cotton to this smorgasbord. Not because of any fundamental connection - but rather because those two commodities have gained the most in the last year. Should they turn down, many will say it is because of the anticipated industrial demand slowdown. I say: it will be more because of major funds' decision to abort inflationary plays.

And when asked about the 2011 investment opportunity - I say Natural Gas. As an investor going in now for the long haul - at least you're assured that you're not buying into any current upside bubble in $3 handle vs. historic highs of over $15.



 Directed by Catherine Hardwicke

Once you know that Hardwicke directed the two Vampire movies ("Twilight" and "Thirteen"), you don't need a Fantasy Thriller on $5 a Day guidebook.

In a story that is transposed into a 'dark' re-purposing of the traditionally sanitized legend, stabbing at the metaphysical while failing miserably at the ordinary, you don't really need much more than to realize all the girls in this medieval forest village are lovely, no one has carbuncles or bad skin, all the young men are unshaven in the 2-day stubble style recently popular in South Beach, and all are strong jawed and mighty of [puny] intellect and [leather-laced] broad chest. And messing around by various adults before the story begins does not pay off in dividends down the road.

The language is annoyingly anachronistic (the young men set to jubilate in the town square suggest they 'have some fun' in a locution people would not even dream up for centuries), the casting is wrong (Riding Hood herself is Amanda Seyfried, playing Valerie, whose eyes are enormous orbs of exophthalmic goiter size, whose lips are cherry red but not a-tremble, and who is too-modern-wrong for the part). The 'legendary' werewolf who has been prowling under the 'blood moon' every 13 years for sacrificial peccary or virgins since the dawn of these teen-agers' first eyelash flicker is ferocious, but–like the shark for most of "Jaws," largely unseen for the curettage of blood and carnage inflicted on auxiliary characters–is really over-the-top in terms of audiences who have seen far more threatening unseen CGI creatures in "Alien," "Planet 9," "The Fly," anything with Pauly Shore, Vin Diesel or your African E-bola virus stories.

The picturesque village of Daggerhorn features a malevolent Gary Oldman, too grandiose or Shakespearian for the over-zealous Father Solomon/nasty wolf-avenger he plays; a handsome scion of the town's sparse richies, smithy Henry, played by Max Irons (though Valerie is totally turned off to this hunk of adaptive protoplasm, most of the audience at the screening swooned at sight of him); and Virginia Madsen, as Valerie's incandescent mother, Suzette, prettier than her daughter, actually; and the surprising Julie Christie, who offers the only amusing and mischievous depiction of a character in the film. In dreadlocks and bohemian attire, she plays Grandma, (you know the one: "What big eyes you have, Grandma! What big teeth!" "The better to eat you with, my dear."), giving the viewers the Willies every time Seyfried's Valerie comes to visit and calls her non-conformist gram, Gramma. Does not parse.

Val wants only the lantern-jawed, poor woodcutter Peter (Shiloh Fernandez), though she will be not only forever dirt-poor if she runs away with this preternatural metrosexual, but her name will probably be, like as not, Valerie Axman (no? insertion humor?).

It is unlikely that anyone would enjoy this fabricated trope on a fairy tale that used to have some metaphorical heft before it was purloined for leathers and firebrands except a very dim pre-teen smitten by the Vampire franchise. The press notes say "The implicit message of the film is 'Don't talk to strangers.' " But what if that stranger/danger turns out to be someone one loves? The big bad wolf represents the molten fear of not knowing whom you're really dealing with.

Not for the kids. Sadly, not really for the adults, either.



 Mensa, the high-IQ society, provides a forum for intellectual exchange among its constituents. There are outlets and societies in more than 100 countries around the globe. Membership is open to persons who have attained a score within the upper 2% of the general population on an approved intelligence test that has been properly administered and professionally supervised. Many who might be qualified for membership admit they "are afraid" of taking the test, lest they discover unpleasantly that they are not the brilliant lights they fancy themselves. Alternatively, many smart people don't need the rubber stamp of Mensa membership to acknowledge their intelligence, and don't bother. Currently a thriving local activity in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgins, there are an approximate 100,000+ Mensans around the world, with the vast majority, some 55,000-60,000, in the US. Approximately 5 million people around the world qualify for membership. Group sizes constantly fluctuate, and ages of members run from the sub-teen to the nonagenarian and above. And although Mensans are often activists in private, the organization does not take official stands on political, religious or social issues, but does fulfill its original goals of social and psychological research through its research arm, MERF.

Although its precise history is somewhat shrouded in another "m" –for murk–best intel has it that the international high-IQ social group was born in England on October 1945, by lawyers Roland Berrill and Lancelot Ware. Though it almost faded from sight from lack of watering and care by its feuding founders, Mensa was revived from desuetude by an American in 1950, and has been growing ever since. Its initial raison d'etre was sociological and psychological research, apparently; social interaction was a distant third, if that. Recognize a Mensan by a small yellow lapel pin—or by self-identification. Activities include the exchange of ideas through lectures, discussions, journals, special-interest groups, and local, regional, national and international gatherings; the investigations of members' opinions and attitudes; and assistance to researchers, inside and outside Mensa, in projects dealing with intelligence or Mensa itself. Clinical studies and testing of new modalities, apps and even games are regularly sent through their paces at various annual state or (countrywide) regional gatherings. Scientists often ask for Mensa volunteers for their projects. Though associates are certifiably smart, at least on paper, there is some longitudinal anecdotal data to suggest that mere high IQ is no unifactorial determinant of all-around social intelligence, capability or even common likability. Indeed, spending a weekend at the annual is often a case in point. Snowball is the annual New Jersey chapter of Mensa, one that has been ongoing annually for 37 years. Or, as the attendance badge has it: Snowball XXXVII.

My experience includes some five or so attendances, all held in the townlet of Iselin, a 10-minute walk from the NJ Transit stop of Metro Park.

This year, I brought a friend, which made a huge difference. Generally speaking, being a female and alone, you takes your chances. Many attendees have been coming for decades, and they are a tight clique of hugs, high-5s and jokes and hang-out formations in the Hospitality-, game- and testing-rooms and lecture halls that are standard at every gathering.

Every annual has a room that has food, a huge trove of candy of all sorts, crudites and fruit, with side offerings of pizza on the second day, and heroes or subs and slabs of ham and onions that, take it from moi, do not tempt this gourmet. Still, even if one does not pay for the Saturday night "banquet," $25 extra, you can subsist on the copious juices, wines, beers, pretzels, chocolate Kisses, M&M's, peanut-butter cups and nuts arrayed all day and night as you meet and greet old friends (or never-were's). Old-timers have coded decals on their badges: Green dots for hug me! Yellow for hug but ask first, and red for Stop, no, don't you dare. There is a coded decal for single (I never asked which it was, though that would be smart). I just splashed a dozen colorful images on my badge because I liked them: animals, floral displays, snow, people, stars, spaceships, items of interest, symbols. Not a whole lot of meaning to my badge, except that I mostly obscured my name so as to make meeting me difficult.

Hospitality rooms are replenished constantly by a selfless phalanx of volunteers emptying chips and dips, bags of nuts and assorted broccoli florets, baby carrots and celery sticks onto platters on the long buffets. These Hospitality rooms are the wet-dreams of preteens (and sweets-partial Mensans, which is as good as 99.9%), the fraught nightmare of dietitians and dentists. The Game rooms are busy all night, with ferociously deft monster Scrabble and other word-strategy game players, card games, cunning new mental tests, as well as a ready pile of NY Times crossword puzzles, Sudoko grids and anagrams from the NY Post, should you be free for a nanosecond between bouts of this year's hottest group contests. Every year has its favorite game, sometimes impinging on the daytime lectures, but mostly battling sleep until 4 or 5 am. Games ensure a party atmosphere metaphysic without the burden of collegial or sequential conversation. Despite the hectic schedule of eating, lectures, parties, plays and games, most of the couples—there are a mess of couples, it seems—amazingly met at prior AGs, And their marriages seem of long duration. Though smarts is not the sole criterion of a mate for life, it is probably at least a guarantor that your spouse will get your jokes and value your profession. Even I have dated a few of the men encountered first at such gatherings, and in general a good (if temporary) time was had, mitigated by geographical distances and other tedious dissonances.

This year, there were 244 attendees, from 12 states. While there were no Big Deal headliners, disappointingly, the roster did offer stimulation of various sorts, as expected. In the past, we have had major entertainers, governors, astronauts, scientists and joke-meisters. But the lectures this time were not unsubstantial.

My reveries with having a friend to talk with and chat at table with, attend lectures and grumble about meager food offerings with were interrupted by a strange trio of weird mishaps at the normally excellent Hilton Woodbridge.

As soon as I registered, I wanted to bathe, and my room was clean, but the bath stopper would not work, so no water could accume. I called down, and up came three attractive 'technicians,' the better to instill in me visions (of soft-core movies?). Eric discovered that the stopper was in backwards and upside down, and the washer was worn plum away. He installed a new one with unworn threads. I asked the other two cuties lounging around why they were there, as 'Technician' Eric seemed to have the matter… well in hand. Uh, um…just in case. I gather the unemployment problem is less noted in Iselin's Hilton than elsewhere in the stricken country. Strange item #2 came when I tried to use the computers in the hotel, and I had a contretemps over which room and which CRT was apt, running into an officious manager, Brad the peremptory, who ordered me out and off the computer inside of 2 minutes. When I got to another computer, and swiped my credit card (30 minutes free; after that, 69 cents/minute), I was unnerved and uncomfortable, since the rudeness was not on the list displayed on the wall on how to treat customers/residents at the hotel. When I'd returned to my room, the phone rang. Someone in the gym had found my Visa, and did I want them to bring it up? Since I had not gone to the gym, but to the business center, that was a puzzlement. Later in the weekend, the hotel apologized to me, and acknowledged that Mr. Gateri had been out of order yelling at me for no reason. I had not been aware of the credit card being on its own, and was relieved to get it back.

Problem #3. The rooms on either side were filled with coughers, and kept me up with their stentorious hacking. Talk about thin walls. And for a final, though personal, upset, I slept gingerly in the delicious and fluffy beds in our double queens because with all the talk about even the very priciest hotels having—ugh—infestations, I worried about bites. My friend had no such concerns, and slept the sleep of the innocent.

During the weekend, I attended Joel Schwartz'es chewy, detailed round-up on "Total Wellness: The Keys to Health" (where I commented often on the varying views on 'diet' and wellness). We attended Don Slepian's gorgeous tapestries of music on his self-created keyboard, a grad-level Moog. He played music from Scott Joplin through classics after the style of Led Zeppelin, to Klezmer variants to Gregorian, through to rock standards, all brilliantly and soothingly. We dropped in for a few moments to "Clash of the Wolves," a 1925 Rin Tin Tin silent, which showed in a short space why "Rinty" was 'the dog that saved Warner Brothers.' RTT's 'wife' in the movie was played by his 'reel-life' mate, Nanette, we were told: Touching. My chum remarked that "Nanette was nowhere near as good an actress" as her hubby. When lectures flagged, my friend kept me laughing. We skipped "Icebreakers" and "Karaoke." Been there. Done that. Saturday a.m. A wake-up hike, hosted by Ron Ruemmler, a mathematician we saw a great deal of later on. Hikers first ride in cars to a suitable hiking venue, since the hotel is surrounded by the cement clover-leafs and industrial vistas of strip city hotel clusters. Robin Marion gave a slide show and realia-accompanied talk on Australia and New Zealand: "A trip Down Under." Well-edited slides, lots of facts and dates, and a modest speaker. Well attended, even at 9 am on Saturday. About 55 seated listeners. (I was taken with her name, which was the inverse of mine, many years ago. For her part, she told me that she had been married to a guy whose last name was Marion, so she was, at the time, Robin Marion Marion.)

We skipped "Assisting aging Parents & Patients," by Lesley Slepner, and just popped in to see a glimpse of "Hot-air ballooning," a scenic overview, as it were, given by Keith Sproul. The fun focus we had been anticipating was given by the hiking maven, Ron Ruemmler, called "A mathematical analysis of Love," which was hilarious from a number of points of view. One thing is, though he bills himself as the "world's greatest authority on love," and has been giving this formula-encrusted talk for 30 or so years, he is…unmarried. Challenged, he defended himself with the silly excuse that his closest almost-girlfriend, 15 years ago, was 'not right,' since she was a "fundamentalist Catholic," while he is "an atheist." I brought up the seemingly thriving marriage of GOPer consultant Mary Matalin and Dem James Carville.

Another funny aspect: Every step of the lecture, which was dense with Q factors and intensity and duration derivatives, Ruemmler was a pixie—tall, skinny and white haired, but with a protuberant 5-month belly—who mostly faced away from the huge audience, and spoke to the flip-chart with his magic marker flying, but not to us. This led to dozens of jokes at his expense, and general release of tension, sexual energy, and overall hilarity caused by the incomprehensible but charming attempt to reduce love and pleasure to graphs and charting. He did not address sexual love, by the way. And I must say that we were not much wiser about how to interpret or create love after the many pages of his exegesis and index cards yellowing from age.

We skipped "Meet the [NJ] candidates," by pol Marc Lederman, after a few minutes and having no idea at all of what we were watching. Instead, we attended Physicist Harry Ringermacher's slide-show lecture on "The search for Dark Matter," which had a substantial audience of nearly 100, after lunch. Maybe this subject matter ought to be reserved for before lunch, since it competes with digestion in a way that leads the gastric system to win the battle for attention. I had on Friday tried, numerous times, to catch Ringermacher's eye with questions when he held forth at my table as he discussed particle physics and Einsteinian time-space, but he apparently missed my verbal efforts not once but four separate times, until others at the table told him I had been trying to ask a question for minutes. He awoke from his private communication-miasma, it seemed, but by then I was disgusted by his not having noticed me, across the same table, for a Cartesian monologue. John Devoti spoke on Washington, DC, in particular its consolidation after 1900 from a patchwork of small buildings and unfinished monuments dominated by the Capitol and White House. My friend Roger Herz, one of the loyalest-members of this Mensa, gave a talk on "If you were Mayor…" –followed by two districting talks: one on Gerrymandering and its origins, by Don Katz, an expert in election law and current commish of the Middlesex County Board of elections; and a discussion of Roebling, NJ, an original 'company town' founded by the sons of the founder of the Brooklyn Bridge. The pro giving the slide lecture was George Lengel, a son of one of the factory's original workers, today a Roebling Museum historian.

We omitted the craft break, and bypassed the Mensa dance lessons given by the astonishingly smooth dancer, Don Jacobs, one of the handsomest, sexiest guys of the 244 people on the weekend, my opinion, but wholly into himself and dance. He's such a good dancer, he could break the bank at Dancing with the Stars, it was widely felt. George Scherer gave a well-attended jokefest, "Humor—the secret to Health, Happiness and Wellbeing." Much as we love to laugh, we spent the majority of the session in John Treffeissen's superb illustrated analysis of the economic mess we are currently suffering, in a pessimistic slide-lecture of "Somewhere over the rainbow: Economic curves of doom," which gives some idea of his take on our future. It was our favorite talk of the weekend, and the lecturer expressed disappointment that there were not more libs in the presentation, as he had been prepared for their objections. He entertained every question we brought up, dispatching our concerns with humor and information, though not hope. Or change. A woman in the back of the hall knitted stoically throughout, a Mme. DuFarge for our time. The keynote event, Saturday night, after the banquet we elected to miss, was a funny play done by Virginia Mensans, called M-Little Indians, done by the Pungo Players, 90 amusing minutes of "skewed skits and skewered show tunes," with a "light-hearted treatment of mass-murder," according to the well-rehearsed Tidewater company.

There was a poetry meet, the Mensa IQ test for those who had not taken it and wanted to become Mensans, a spelling bee, a trivia contest, and a traditional festive dance, then a Sunday morning multimedia and book swap, but we were done in by the satiation of Hershey's. Too many unrelieved carbs, not enough protein.

Home, James. Mmm… until the next year's supersaturation of mind-mugging mentition and merriment. Or not.



 Copper finally succumbed last night, and whether it leads the equity market, or equities lead it, they tend to mimic each other pretty well over the March/April reversal period for the next several months. If they hold this relationship, copper will now have a bit to make up to give this duo strength.

Anatoly Veltman writes:

1. it happened quite abruptly in North American session.

2. mass media explanation: potential premium fuel costs dim prospects for industrial demand.

3. over the years, I've often seen other metals follow next day - although there is no fundamental link. It always was: like players were too busy knocking one market down today; and they switch to the next market next day. Which will be interesting to note tomorrow, as one important nouveau element (cross-market algorithms) should have kicked in already today (?).

Larry Williams adds:

Dominoes is the next game?



 The Adjustment Bureau

Directed and Written by George Nolfi Reviewed by Marion DS Dreyfus

Cast: Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Terence Stamp, John Slattery, Daniel Dae Kim, Anthony Mackie, Michael Kelly, Shohreh Aghdashloo

Look at the roster of films for the past two years, and the slate upcoming. Unknown. A crowd of Sci-fi invasion pics waiting in the wings (as it were) to be released. And now Philip K. Dick's famous sci-fi lenser THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU.

Coming from all sides except possibly the cooking channel are movies that beat singularly hard on one theme: Paranoia. Now of course we do face troubles afield, both in this country under unprecedented malpractice in government, and abroad in the theatre of turbulent fomented revolutions, whether financed by local insurgents, 'students' or even moneybags palindromes who seek to unsettle markets and profit therefrom.

The respected writer Philip Dick wrote many satisfying stories and books before the age of email manacled us to our computers and email. Among them was the story that makes the spine of this unsatisfying New York tale.

From the voluminous work of the protean Philip Dick, who died in 1982, but whose work, alone and compendiumized in the 90s, and recently, over the past three years, many times over. Since his death, 44 novels have been published or republished and translations have appeared in two dozen languages. Six volumes of selected correspondence, written by Dick from 1938 through 1982, were published between 1991 and last year. He was the first of the science-fiction genre to be given the OK imprimatur by the Library of Congress. Time was, you read Sci-Fi, you were playing at the edges of rad, too cool for school, taking the leap. You hid your Asimovs and Arthur C. Clarkes and the like books in some variant of a plain brown wrapper. Like toting around Ayn Rand 20 years ago, before she became the latest word in political reality reading matter. Last count, at least nine films have been adapted from Dick's work, with the masterful and still twisty-dark Blade Runner (1982) probably the gold standard touchstone for aficionados of the genre. Others include Minority Report, Next, Screamers, Imposter, Total Recall.

In keeping with a scholar of the writer who set the mode for all of us sci-fi geeks, the recurrent Dick philosophical memes include false reality (seen in so many films it's now almost a genre unto itself) human vs. machine (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), entropy, the nature of God, and mind and social control.

But this film adaptation changes the premise of Dick's original story, "The Adjustment Team," so that we are left with a wholly unsatisfying premise, a weak middle story, and a resolution that is plucked out of the air. As one of my colleagues, usually a diamond-back hard-nose, commented at my dissatisfaction, "Whaddaya want? It's a contemporary love story!" But the metaphysical elements Matt Damon grapples with as phalanxes of men follow him and try to threaten him his 'path' is determined, and it does not include the character of the luscious Emily Blunt, makes us ask repeatedly, Who are these guys? Why does wearing those anachronistic hats empower them to unlikely feats of transmigration and Manhattan-locale short-cuts? (Was the true financing pooh-bah a milliner? C'mon, you can tell us…) Apparently we lost our 'right' to free will, aside from which dry cleaner to take our shirts to or what yogurt bar to select, 'way back in 1910, when 'mankind' screwed it all up.

It beggars our suspension of disbelief to think a squadron of not particularly impressive men watch us as we go about our lives, tracking us on NYC subway-map lookalikes, determining what we get to choose, do, or proceed to wrest from destiny's no-goodniks. We are led to believe this is a Morgan Freeman-less unpleasant Supreme enchilada and His adjusters, all dressed in Brooks Brothers suiting bespoke and ties, hats and sensible yet apparently good for running shoes. Rain and water play a role in our hero's being able to elude their ubiquitous annoying presence. Men in Black deleted memories, too, but there and in the two amusing sequels, the actors (Tommy Lee Jones and sidekick Will Smith; Rip Torn) kept a hilarious tongue-in-cheekiness about their thingamajig mind resets. Here, it's darkly nasty and threatening, yet no real answers transpire, which gets ultimately annoying and exhausting. Blunt, a luminous actress and exquisite, looks just unhappy and dysenteric as Elise NLN (no last name) throughout, wearing ugly outfits that are Razzie-worthy. She is photographed poorly, and the guys responsible for that should be 'reset' into different professions. Blunt deserves better.

If you don't buy in to the whole super-human A-team notion, everything else falls flat, and the dark, rainy NYC story seems ridiculous. Special effects, as when these sort-of angels, maybe-jealous spirits chase men, they permeate walls and time-space by cutting through wormholes from the Statue of Liberty to the DMV to Yankee Stadium—the audience glazes over. They know it's just and forever a movie trick, and the real thing is not firmly established enough to buy in, so we numb over, unimpressed, in the end. Lots of well-known newsmen and local characters in the NYC scene make cameos. But let's not blame them: They probably never got to see the rushes before they did their 5-second stints to authenticate David Norris, senatorial candidate.



 It's not true people are the same everywhere, but what about the ignored species? I'm on a Darwinian voyage around the world by plane, bus and thumb, and now in Sumatra, Indonesia, where the contrast of species, including our own, is great, with the most interesting extremes.

The Sumatra butterflies have the strongest wing attachments, hence steady flight in the island's winds, than any encountered around the globe. The chickens, c/o mankind, crossed the ocean to evolve into the sturdiest, best eating in the world, meatier with small fat, and less gamey. The eggs are 20% denser than our American counterparts with a ratio of one medium Sumatra = one extra-jumbo USA. The two-egg omelet I devoured an hour ago was enough for two explorers.

The cook and people in Tuk Tuk village on the volcanic Lake Toba bank are, along with Peruvian Amazonians, the hardiest in the world. They were southbound refuges from early war-torn North Asia, and cannibals among themselves to weed the gene pool. Lake Toba is the seat of the Batak people, with homes like ships turned upside-down and put on stilts. They are the most gentle with the fiercest anatomies anywhere.

This is also the focus, I believe, of a rise of consciousness separate from the dawn of man's climb from Africa into Europe. (Incidentally, one may study at googlemaps 'satellite view' the ocean shelves tapering and joining continents, to surmise the early travels of 'missing links'.) My evaluation of consciousness in Lake Toba is untainted by small text preparation of man's early migration and rise of awareness, but rather from having visited all the continents, and being a sharp student.

It appears the local 6500 orangutan population is the most intelligent of apes, including gorillas and chimpanzees. They are processors, or an offshoot, of a missing human link different from the African one with facial expressions of condescension to be cherished on a jungle path.

The Batak proudly own orangutan and chimpanzee features, with not the natural, long sharp canines of greater cannibalistic Peru, and none of the heavy jaw stock from my own family tree. It's apparent their consciousness arose in a separate Asian branch from the Africa-Europe one, with a different style of thought revolving around anatomy. They generate thoughts from lower on the brain stem, with less capacity to entertain simultaneous concepts like scrambling eggs and swatting flies processed higher in the cerebrum.
A Toba Super-eruption about 70,000 years ago is recognized as one of the earth's largest, and perhaps greatest disaster, and evolutionary factor. The theory holds the event plunged the planet into a decade volcanic winter that resulted in the world's human population being reduced to an estimated 1,000 breeding pairs, creating a human evolution bottleneck.

Today's tranquility, and 3:1 female to male birth ratio, under towering trees and tumbling waterfalls suggests correlative causes with the Peruvian Amazon. In each, an early tribe fled into an impenetrable place: one a volcanic island and the other the thickest rainforest on earth. Each sequestered over the centuries in what evolutionists call 'island isolation'- raiding each others villages for breeding girls and eating the men's heads, squeezing a few years though a malaria sieve, preservative infanticide- where inherited and mutated traits tend to be preserved.

Until scant centuries ago, they also remained separate from the global pace. The result in each locale is royal peoples, and flora and fauna quirks, like the butterfly wings and chicken eggs far removed from the Bell canopy.

This is why one travels.



A Day in the Life of the Soros Empire:

Three separate story lines from Thursday Feb. 24, 2011, showed Soros in all his glory. In the first, liberal activists pushed for a Supreme Court ethics code. The second talked of 'Tea-Party-like revolts' against spending cuts. The last involved the nationwide union protest in support of the Wisconsin strikers.Every one of those stories was pushed, influenced and organized by Soros-funded groups.



 On a remote Michigan lake, in an unheated garage with double-walls, triple ceiling, and a waterbed, two Dobermans and an Irish setter, I spent one introspective year after carving and hanging a sign on the door 'Garage Nirvana'.

A series of 24-hour experiments for self-study, to explore limits, and fit together a personal puzzle engaged the time. One was bladder control, that hit the news today, 'People with Full Bladders Make Better Decisions, Scientists Discover' (Telegraph) asserting that the brain's self-control mechanism provides restraint in all areas at once. Like Pascal's principle, I suppose, pressure exerted on confined liquid is transmitted equally in all directions.

It applies to the Garage Nirvana trials of 1978.

The early bladder test was a simple design: One sweat-hot summer day I drank copious water while bent with screwdrivers and pliers over a 5-meter line of accumulated broken appliances- radios, blender, watch, drill…- strewn on the dog funhouse ramp out the garage window to fix, or at least, see what makes things tick. I held the bladder tinkering into the night

I built a plywood phone booth-sized closet next to the bed as a 'jail' deprivation booth, and sat for 24-hours on a cushion with nothing to do, in the only superfluous bid, except the clothes closet.

Some assays extended beyond a day, like the one month fast @ 2000 calories while sustaining 6-miles runs with the dogs around Haslett Lake. To this day, I eat simply, slowly and prefer to eat alone.

A chin-up bar across the door jam was a 'bell' that I forced myself to 'ring' with X +1 chins before entry, where X was the previous number.

One morning I came out and rode a Peugeot PX 10-speed for 24-straight hours through Dodge and Hell, Michigan listening to Sherlock Holmes books on tape, learning that sleep deprivation is speculative.

There were dubious achievements of letting ants, flies and cockroaches crawl or fly closer without flinching. An hour sitting on a knoll in a mosquito cloud with Emily Dickinson flamed a swollen head, but without welts.

In a swoop at Nirvana, I put a rheostat on emotions, without suppression, via willpower. The brain works quickly under emotion or stress, like a clucking chicken in a rainstorm, but a blink or thought may replace affection to quiet it. Feeling the diminishment like a questionable protagonist of Twilight Zone, a final insight burst allowed a creep of sentiment, while maintaining the rheostat.

I started reading books upside down to cause a print flow from left-to-right to offset the spiritless daily reverse, and succeeded in a month to reach 90% speed and 110% comprehension. Then, I extended nightly non-fiction reading sessions by 30-minutes for a week, and was so aided by the increased stamina from book tipping, the only limit was sleep deprivation.

Sleep deprivation, for sleep is a little slice of death, was pruned by 30-minutes a night until I felt sick at four hours, and chucked it. The rationale is that one who thinks and acts hard in waking hours requires more sleep to return to a morning steady state. I did learn to drop off in seconds like a bum on a park bench, and to appreciate the qualities of sleep, and accomplished dreamless repose.

Every night for a nearly a month, i went to sleep an hour later until gaining the equivalent of circling the globe, and clapped myself on the back for snatching a day from Father Time.

One winter week I spent ten-minutes on either side of midnights throwing snowballs at a backyard telephone pole to improve an off-left hand for sports, and to prove a theory that an overhand hones a vertical target. And, I learned to write left-handed in mirror to try to match my acclaimed 'best racquetball backhand in history' attributed to writing journals since childhood left-to-right on the horizontal.

Along with proud acquired dyslexia from reading backwards, in so many night waking hours I learned colorblindness, seeing none even in daytime, and with no color recall. To this day, the blindness may be turned on and off, but somehow I cannot conjure color. The gains are a contrast of black and clear that speeds the visual process, recognizable smaller images, and eyes in a flash to pick movements.

Bodily functions offered proofs of the control cough and sneeze reflexes, shivering, and best not blinking. In one day I blinked once, but the next got a contract from Contemporary Books for The Women's Book of Racquetball, and stopped.

The most dangerous undertaking was reading Carl Jung's Memories, Dreams and Reflections, and suddenly it popped into my head that thinking may be earned. Thoughts have a prelude like background static that I determined to raise the curtain on by paying attention. Indeed, one tunes into formerly subconscious thoughts, speeding cognition to breakneck speed.

Another peril was a mounting endeavor not to waste time, not a second, that is difficult to explain. It entails cutting corners in thought and to the latrine, to spiral eating corn-on-the-cob. The best week was an accumulative wasted one second at multiple blinks.

One aim the dogs just stared at was jumping to hit my head on the ceiling for increased leg strength. It happened in one month.

Concurrently, I tried to fuse grace into every movement that carried beyond the year on leaving the garage to travel the world with this bag of tricks.

The lessons gleaned from the Nirvana struggles are:

Thinking is an athletic event.
Athletics is best done thinking.
There are cross-over benefits in every action.
Knowing your limits pays life dividends.
You may through self-knowledge feel whole,
And become what one may.



 My observations during the 'yank bo' speculative tour some time ago to find emerging markets were, and still are, that in first world countries a rise in alcohol consumption is bullish, and more correlative a rise in 2nd & 3rd countries it is bearish. From Lake Toba, where the cigarette butts are smoked to the bitter end and the local economy is 70% depressed because of a fall in tourism due to recent Indonesian bombings.

Apparent per capita ethanol consumption for the United States, 1850–2007. (Gallons of ethanol)

List of countries by alcohol consumption can be found on wikipedia.



Nick Curtis made a $5 million contrarian bet in 2002 to develop an Australian rare earth mine, aiming to challenge China's control of global supply of the metals. His company, Lynas, now has a market value of $3.5 billion.

The reform process in China in the metals sector goes through a period of unfettered competition leading to chaos followed by which the state tries to get control of things again," Curtis said.

New supply

Sydney-based Lynas, the second-best performer on the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index last year, is set to become the first new source of supply outside China in at least two decades with the start up this year of the $535 million Mt Weld project, the world's richest deposit of rare earths according to Lynas.

rest here.

I bought this stock on the day before the crash in 87. Cheers! It was demolished at the time. Though I got my brother in too, no doubt he bottom drawed it. Time to let him know the good news! 24 years. Gees it went quick. Many stocks reinvent themselves, just like the wheel. 



 The Spaceship Hubble, the Telescope, has been bringing in some real finds. Lately, it discovered a galaxy that was around when the Universe was only 480 million years and it's light has persisted for 13+ Billion years. This is the oldest so far. Many good segments in this article and a good read for your morning science column of the day.




Directed by Gore Verbinsky
Reviewed by Marion DS Dreyfus

An amiable though inexperienced lizard (a fabulous Johnny Depp) who finds himself in a spot of complicated Old West townspeople trouble tells some villagers that they ought not be afraid of a huge, malign rattler who threatens them all with death.

He assures them the humongous serpent, larger than the entire wadi gulch not-even-one-hoss-town outpost (called, yes, DIRT) is his “brother.” Some insightful critter listening asks how a skinny-cat little lizard (a cuz, no doubt, of the adorable Geiko gekko we see every three minutes on TV) like Rango could possibly be related to a massive snake that terrorizes their little pit-stop of the desert.

“Ah, uh, mother had a very active…social life…”

Not many kids get that, nor the Kierkegaardian response to a question of how Rango expects to get to the ‘other side of the road’ with huge trucks bearing down on him and his new friend. Says the armadillo wise elder he hitches up with temporarily, with a clear touch of asperity, “Look, forget it! It’s a metaphor.”

Zing! Right over their little keppelach.

A film about water scarcity and allocation hits many of today’s buzz-word consciousnesses, but cannot really be said to be a child’s movie.

Afterwards, a couple of child-sized respondents answered my question, Did you like the movie? They answered slowly, a bit hard-put for words. One little girl, maybe 7, told me, “That was a s-t-ra-nge movie…” Another testimonial, from a boy: “Um, well, yeah…I guess.”

Not ringing endorsements. But for grown-ups, it is an hilarious spot of whoops and chortling in the popcorn aisle.

And so it goes. The script here in this hilarious animated story, one of the best and most entertaining among a batch of marvelous such animated features by Disney and Pixar et al., is far over the little tiny headies of the tots sitting making messes in the movie theatre. But the parents seem to love it. It is in fact not 50:50 kid-parent based. It is probably closer to 80% targeted for the big people dragging along their tykes. The coloration and set pieces, bar-scenes and desert scenarios are outstanding, the product of amazingly gifted cartoonists and designers.

The single cavil, well, make that two, are that, first, the ‘bad guy,’ though it is not too heavily pressed, is the corporate-style big-buildings city—always the people in capitalism-land, huh, guys? Nice to pollute the kiddies’ minds with that suggestion.

And two, I have never seen a theatre so filthy at the end of a screening as after RANGO. So bad, in fact, that the clean-up crew that was did KP as I searched for my missing sunspecs kept remarking how they had never seen such an unholy mess before.

marion ds dreyfus . . . 20©11



I am sorry for you personally that your job hunt is frustrating - however, I think some of your points defy logic and can lead you to the wrong place. I'll offer some (hopefully helpful) other ways to think about your observations. You wrote:

In my opinion, there exists a very large disconnect between the stock market and the jobs market. As a job seeker I can tell you what I am seeing, no jobs. - Frustrated Job Seeker

Stock prices represent the discounted future value of corporate profits. They are not a proxy for the unemployment rate; in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. If a company can produce the same profits with fewer employees, productivity and profits rise. And the stock price should rise too (ceteris paribus). This has been true since the industrial revolution, and it's true today. The challenge of a economy with a large number of displaced workers is to have those workers (a)accept lower real wages; (b) acquire new skills; and (c) avoid permanent unemployment. Additionally, in an economy with an increasing concentration of wealth and income (such as the USA has had for the past several years), this situation can be persist for a very long time. (This isn't an argument in favor of wealth redistribution, just an observation that structural unemployment isn't necessarily related to corporate profitability and stock prices.)

Those of us who cleaned toilets to pay our way through college always find it perplexing when people talk about graduates who cannot find jobs. It's a shame (and economic loss) if you're a PhD in computer science and forced to work as a cashier. But instead of blaming others, one needs to do what one needs to do — and in this regard, I highlight the shortage of workers in North Dakota . I'll happily mail you a Greyhound bus ticket to Fargo (gratis) if that would be of any help!

The stock market rise is just another Fed induced low rate driven bubble - Frustrated Job Seeker

Your comment ignores the way monetary policy is intended to work. The entire principle behind classical monetary policy is that by lowering the price of money and credit, people will be more inclined to spend, invest and borrow. Stefan and other gold standard bearers wince at this, and they have an intellectually consistent basis to do so. However, that's not the regime we have. We have a fiat currency and fractional banking system. And under this regime, the reaction of financial markets is (in part) a reflection of the incentives that the central banks are providing. And, combined with fiscal spending, monetary policy a potent stimulant to SHORT TERM demand and consumption. (Its effect on LONG TERM growth is a different discussion.)

It is true that the reaction of unemployment to the cycle has become more muted over the past 25 years in part because the percentage of US workers in direct manufacturing industries have declined. The days when Ford and GM and US Steel would layoff 100,000 factory workers during a recession — And then hire them back 15 months later — is long gone. The hiring/firing cycle for white collar workers is vastly different and much slower post-recession. When you read that the number of jobs created post-recession is the lowest since WWII, you should bear this structural change in mind. (Also, it's worth examining the structural unemployment rate in Germany over the past 25 years for some interesting contrasts.)

Fed policy has been a failure on the unemployment front, at this point doesn't it make more sense to raise rates a bit in hopes it signals the all clear, even at the risk of a short term adverse reaction in stocks? (stocks have already doubled from their lows, after all) - Frustrated Job Seeker

You can reasonably argue that the fed funds rate is currently too low. And you can further argue that QE2 is not a constructive idea. However, there needs to be a sound intellectual framework for deciding on the appropriate short rate. Why raise rates 25 basis points? Why not raise rates to 6%? Why not let the fed funds rate float and target money growth (ala Volker)? Or why not just have the fed funds rate set every month at CPI minus 25 basis points? There are endless papers on this subject - but no serious person suggests raising rates 25 bps to simply signal "confidence."

You point to the doubling of the S&P off it's low as meaningful. I suggest that it's not. What you fail to consider is that when the S&P was at its low, it was a reflection of the fact that the commercial paper market had frozen. The money market system was facing a run. And there was (to quote Mr. Rogan ), "No way out other than total financial collapse." That Mr. Rogan has been proven wrong (and the world has not ended yet), has not elicited any mea culpa from him — nor has he evidently learned anything about economics — but rather he's turned his perpetual malice toward Bernanke, Boehner and China. In sum, rather than showing any signs of optimism, he's an angry old man. In contrast, you are not an old man. You are still young. You are actively looking for work. And I encourage you to be optimistic — since enthusiasm and optimism are necessary ingredients for success. To summarize, don't let yourself become depressed. Don't let the stock market influence you. Just keep your chin up, be realistic, and things will eventually turn out fine. Oh, and if you need to clean toilets for a couple of years to make ends meet, that's not the end of the world either. It's what makes America great!

Gary Rogan replies:

Ignoring the ad hominem part of Rocky's argument, it is absolutely clear that the Fed operates under the traditional monetarist assumptions that postulates that "by lowering the price of money and credit, people will be more inclined to spend, invest and borrow". My problem with Mr. Bernnake is that he treats this as an irrefutable law of nature. There is clear anecdotal evidence, as in the expressed opinions of multiple CEOs (the recently mentioned Mr. Zell in a different testimony being one of the recent cogent examples) that it is the uncertainty introduced by the various medllings of our government in the private sector that is keeping them from hiring more people and not the availability of credit, especially when large corporations are involved.

Furthermore it is unclear whether the entire reason for  Mr. Bernanke behavior is just his monetarist belief system or perhaps in part a desire to accommodate the government spending that is occurring independent of the monetarist concerns. His intentions may very well be totally pure, in that he sees himself as doing what's strictly necessary to save the country, I simply disagree with the actual role he is playing.



 Thanks to Tim Melvin and to the chair for hosting a contest that truly evoked good solid investment ideas and themes.

Tim's idea of busted banks as low priced calls on the sector led me to consider a market area that was no where on my ideas list for 2011. In all humility–thanks! Using Tim's idea of fbc and shbi as vehicles, I stumbled on to hmpr. Then diving deeper, a large financial deal was in place through Carlyle, Tim pointed out that the financing and equity stake would minimize the threat of liquidation (one of my trade downside risks).

The year end tax loss selling washed out the stock completely and then huge (actually over the top piggish) insider buying from a bank insider (flexionism) was all the footprint I needed to risk a throw.

44% winner on one closed trade so far. Now I gotta be careful because sometimes my hand gets caught in the cash till on the subsequent forays.



There are two theories on stock valuations: 1. That the market accurately discounts the correct absolute value; 2. That the market is irrationally exuberant or depressed and overshoots the correct values. Under theory 2 the values are relative. If theory 1 is correct, it will be hard to achieve former all time highs soon as fundamentals still lag former glory. If theory 1 is correct, prior values may have been exuberant, but compared to recent lows achievable if every one piles in, especially the last few hundred points. We seem to be still in a market that won't go down. My take is theory 2 as money in general is nothing more than confidence or lack thereof.

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