I only found one market open yesterday, and it was Israel, which was up 1.5%. One was also wondering what kind of predictions one could make, a la the probability that the team that scores first in a basketball game will win the game, and if this is connected. Alan Abelson says that he sees 2007 shaping up as a year like 2000, and he feels the sense of Deja Vu. He has been saying this 2002, and from 1990 to 1999, when he felt a sense of Deja Vu referring to 1987. And from 1964 to 1987, he felt a sense reminding him of 1929. It is insightful to see the techniques of the perfect lie, or propaganda that he uses to maintain his self image, presumably rather than to deceive his readers. His two favorite techniques are to say that he didn’t really expect the year to play out as favorably as it did or that his crystal ball has not been entirely accurate, and his very sagacious short selling friends who have not done too badly see the problems of our economy as discounted to an inordinate extent.

Gone is the old technique of saying that the market will go down without limit until the last excess of ebullience is gone. He also doesn’t use the technique of the Elizabethan Ghost to indicate that it is wrong to be always bullish because the up trend has a variance. The problem is the uncertainty of knowing when the mean and variance of the drift have changed. Presumably if the drift were 50% a year, rather than 10,000% a century, people would be reluctant to say that their fears over-ride it, and that they would prefer to be short.

On another note, I have received numerous letters asking me if the tendency for years ‘07 to be bearish is predictive. I point out that with the last two ’07s being 1987 and 1997, with returns of 4% and 20% respectively, and 1967 being up 20%, one should not place any reliance on a pattern with 10 observations that hasn’t worked three of the last four times. The same would be said for all the foolishness about the January Barometer. It hasn’t worked for three out of the last five years, and was random before that.

I see many year end forecasters are looking for technology spending to be up some 20% or so next year. One wonders what the best way to play this might be, given the relatively lackluster performance of technology in last year.

Finally, I am convinced that training in checkers is much better for children than chess, in that it prepares them better for the basic yes, no decisions of life that make up much of logic, electronics, and computers. It is simpler with a less confined rule base, with much more potential for generalization to the situations of life. It also has the virtue of not consuming so much time to become proficient, (now that it takes a football team and extensive technology and years of study to become even a competent chess player). As well as being better to learn, it’s also much less life threatening to eat a checkers piece rather than a chess piece.

GM Nigel Davies responds:

I believe this should be tested, and probably on a larger sample than exists on the list.

I do have one observation to add, and that is that the chess players who went on to become very successful appeared to have one thing in common. They either stopped playing altogether or relegated the game to the status of a very minor hobby, which rather confirms the chair’s hypothesis that it takes up too much time.

Vis. a vis. choking hazards, I found this prevention.

Peter Grieve comments:

The chess vs. checkers comparison brings to mind fencing vs. boxing. I’d rather that a child of mine would be a boxer, but I’d much prefer to be a fencer.

The late GM Tony Miles wrote a piece extolling the virtues of checkers, and bemoaning that the fan base wasn’t larger.

Most of the great Georgian (British) boxers were fencers also. I think this was very useful cross-fertilization.


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