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What Makes A Good Life?

Before and After Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry himself would be the first to admit he didn’t invent rock ’n’ roll, but he came to define it in a series of iconic singles made between 1955 and 1959.

Mr. Berry wrote almost all his hits himself, and he drew from the music he loved — from the blues and boogie to country and Calypso. The result was a hybrid sound that, in 1955, was just beginning to be called “rock ’n’ roll.”

Here, an audio guide to just a few of his revolutionary songs: what came before, and what came after. Listen to the sound of rock ’n’ roll being made.

More here – The New York Times

Surgeons Should Not Look Like Surgeons

Say you had the choice between two surgeons of similar rank in the same department in some hospital. The first is highly refined in appearance; he wears silver-rimmed glasses, has a thin built, delicate hands, a measured speech, and elegant gestures. His hair is silver and well combed. He is the person you would put in a movie if you needed to impersonate a surgeon. His office prominently boasts an Ivy League diploma, both for his undergraduate and medical schools.

The second one looks like a butcher; he is overweight, with large hands, uncouth speech and an unkempt appearance. His shirt is dangling from the back. No known tailor in the East Coast of the U.S. is capable of making his shirt button at the neck. He speaks unapologetically with a strong New Yawk accent, as if he wasn’t aware of it. He even has a gold tooth showing when he opens his mouth. The absence of diploma on the wall hints at the lack of pride in his education: he perhaps went to some local college. In a movie, you would expect him to impersonate a retired bodyguard for a junior congressman, or a third-generation cook in a New Jersey cafeteria.

Now if I had to pick, I would overcome my suckerproneness and take the butcher any minute. Even more: I would seek the butcher as a third option if my choice was between two doctors who looked like doctors. Why? Simply the one who doesn’t look the part, conditional of having made a (sort of) successful career in his profession, had to have much to overcome in terms of perception. And if we are lucky enough to have people who do not look the part, it is thanks to the presence of some skin in the game, the contact with reality that filters out incompetence, as reality is blind to looks.

More here – Incerto

A Rant….Again

I like to open all my office windows when I can and since my office sits at the front of the house I get to hear the sounds of my suburb and you get used to the background noise. So I was surprised a few weeks ago to hear the sound of pan flutes gently wafting in through the window. I thought it cannot be the builders a few houses up since it is definitely not their style. So I thought it was one of my dodgy neighbors planted over a bong giving their chakra a furious rubbing and thought no more of it until a few hours later when it started up again. It couldn’t be one of my neighbors since by now they would have rubbed their damned chakra red raw so I stuck my head out the front door and doing my best bat impression tried to lock onto the sound and lo and behold it was coming from the Catholic primary school at the top of my street. The bell has apparently been replaced with pan flute music because the bell was upsetting their chi or some other such new age fuckerry. But it got worse, later on in the day they were subjected to a guided mediation and pan flute music over the loudspeaker. So multiple times a day so I, the neighborhood and the poor little buggers at the school are bombarded by pan flute music that blasts out of the school.

I cant wait to be told that feng shui, homeopathy and numerology  have been introduced to the science curriculum.

A Basic Misunderstanding

The chart below is from a site called Spurious Correlations, it takes seemingly disparate facts and matches them together to create the illusion of a positive correlation. It is a simple and effective way of illustrating the problem of mistaking causation for correlation which is constant problem in the way people both think and view data.

correlation

If you were to take this at face value you would accept that there is a link between the number of films that Nicholas Cage has appeared in and the number of people who drowned by falling into a pool. You could even stretch the data a little and suggest that these drownings were not an accident and anyone who had even seen a Nicholas Cage film would nod sagely in agreement. Now consider the chart below which looks at significant historical events and the rise of the Dow.

This rather imposing looking chart is the centrepiece of an article titled The Dow’s tumultuous 120-year history, in one chart which appears on the MarketWatch site.  The article boldly claims the following –

At its simplest, the chart proves once again that over the long term, the stock market always rises because “intelligence, creativity, and innovation always trump fear,” according to Kacher.

No it doesnt – this is mistaking causation and correlation. What the chart shows is the profound upward bias of the Dow and this is the driving force of the index moving higher. This is an example of survivor bias nothing more. The original Dow components were as follows

Dow

It is obvious that these components would change over time and that this change would drag the index higher as non performing or irrelevant issues were moved out. The notion that it is innovation that is moving the market higher is not true and can be illustrated by the simple fact that Apple arguably the most innovative technology company of recent times was only added to the index in 2015. Google whose technology permeates everyday life and Amazon who have revolutionized retailing are nowhere to be seen. The Dow has remained technology light since its inception – if technology and creativity were the drivers of the market then these new companies would be added to the index very quickly.

It is quite a simple matter to generate events stick them on a chart and say they have some significance but simply saying it doesn’t make it true. As I explored last week news and significant events tends to have a complex relationship with an index and the question of does news move markets has been answered in the negative.

The article then goes onto make the bold claim –

 Investing is more challenging than brain surgery,” Kacher told MarketWatch.

I will leave others to ponder the idiocy of this last quote.

Downer EDI

Here is a chart of Downer EDI (Dow)

Dow

If you bounced into this on the breakout from congestion well done, you got a nice trade and then it all went pear shaped. DOW have apparently launched a bid for Spotless which I mentioned last week. This bid entails a capital raising whereby for every 5 existing DOW shares you own you get another 2 at $5.95. This brings the true adjusted price to $7.01. Now as sometimes happens things dont always go as planned. The market is a giant voting machine and in this instance it has decided that the takeover of Spotless has knobs on it but that is not the point. The point is that I have heard that people who have been recommend DOW have been moaning and whinging that it has gone down.

Well, here is a news flash for all of you who take a trip to Brown Gouge to get your pants cleaned every time things dont go perfectly…..SUCK IT UP.  The market is not perfect, it is an odd, organic, sometimes self correcting, maddeningly chaotic system that in no way has to conform to your belief structure. This sort of event will happen at least once in your trading career and if you cannot handle that without blaming everyone else in sight then this business is not for you. So step aside and leave it to the grown ups.

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