Monday, December 29, 2008

What's the point of thinking

Why think?  Unfortunately we are born with this "gift".  Is it possible to use this power to make your own life or the lives around you or even the world or maybe even the universe a better place?  Yes.  Your actions should serve to make the universe a better place.  That is a very lofty goal indeed and my new years resolution.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Natural vs Unnatural

I watched a show on Nova tonight about scientists at MIT and Colorado who were attempting to discover the fourth matter, Some dude and Einstein's theory of a substance that is neither gas nor liquid nor solid, but some quantum goop that can only be achieved at a billionth of a degree above absolute zero.  Now I ask you, is this natural?  The scientists actually achieved this feat and earned the Nobel prize in reward.  But again, in a million years, could this happen in nature, some element singled out and frozen by lasers, cooled by a magnetic field and finally by evaporation to reach .000000001 degree above 0K?  Well actually it does happen in nature though it took more than a million years.  By some phenomenon, it happened twice within a few months of each instance and then again later.  It isn't commonplace, but a woman scientist recently used the quantum soup to slow down light to the "speed of a bicycle," as it was put.  The fact is, anything that happens in the world happens naturally, people dying, cops riding Segues, markets collapsing, civilizations run into the ground and then replaced with others, etc.  So I guess I'm not big on meta-physics.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Category error

I was talking to my friend Mark a few weeks ago about my philosophy of action, which is not that different from Hume or empiricism or phenomology, and he told me of a psychology term called something like "category error" where you can mistakenly categorize one action into that of another.  The error occurs where the two elements are not of the same category though you assume they are.  I quickly recanted my statement which brought that up because I knew how semantics can easily muddle any thought (thanks Wittgenstein you make everything complicated), but now I know how to deal with category errors (again in a Wittgenstein fashion).  Category errors cannot exist because you cannot have categories since they only exist in one's mind and since thinking is wack, there can be no categories and thus no errors.  This doesn't negate the fact that he was right and my comparison of lions and people cannot apply since they are more different than alike...however they are still both members of the same animal kingdom even though many humans do not think that to be so.  Well they are both not plants or inorgainic (prove something by proving the opposite cannot be)...both can kill and eat others--that is undeniable.


People like to belong.  It gives their lives meaning.  If you sell or offer a product or service (like apple or google) then you get a sense of camaraderie when you see other people with an iphone or an ipod or with someone who uses gmail.  It is hard to predict the motivation behind the "tribe" membership, but the feeling of belonging is undeniable and something that customers feel.  So the next time you think about marketing or product development, be sure to consider the floking nature of customers.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ponzi Scheme

If you think about it the whole stock market is somewhat of a Ponzi scheme.

Turned a corner

For some unscientific reason, I think the economy has turned a corner.  There still may be a cliff ahead of us, but most of the charts I'm seeing have reversed directions.  That probably means I'm too late to act on anything, but it's good to note it now just in case I'm right.

P.S.  Yesterday I also predicted the Second Coming, but haven't told anyone yet.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Thinking about thinking

In this world there are three types of thoughts, thoughts about thoughts, thoughts about acting (real or fantastic), and thoughts while acting.  The former two I consider voluntary thought and the latter involuntary thought.  The animal part of us lives in the involuntary and the dysfunctional part of us lives in the voluntary.  True, sometimes thinking is productive and helps us in our daily lives, but a good portion of the thought that goes through our minds is mere noise...probably like the internet.  Blogs are part of the noise (Herbert Simon and Teddy Sturgeon would agree).  In fact I'd probably be hard pressed to find anything of merit on the web, this blog included.
The mere fact that you are reading this reinforces the concept that I am wasting your time, not to mention the time it took me to write it down, even if it took me a lifetime to come up with the idea (but really it only took a few days of wasted voluntary thought).  And the fact that this blog has the potential to waste the time of millions of blog readers is quite shocking, though I am quite certain I will be the only one to read it.  Sorry for wasting your time, but maybe you need to read this.  Stop reading blogs and go out and do something that maximized involuntary thought, hopefully for good instead of evil, but those are concepts that do not apply to my pseudo-philosophy.  I wonder if David Hume or Jean Paul Sartre would agree?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Two Minute Offense

I'm still playing soccer every Thursday night.  That and squash on Saturdays are my two only hobbies, unless you count listening to audio books whenever I have to drive to meet clients.  Last night we were shorthanded...or shortfooted and we didn't have any subs.  That meant 38 minutes without a break.  It wasn't as bad as I thought since I mainly hung out in the backfield playing defense...and not so well I might add, but I did get better as the game progressed.  Our usual defenders were no-shows so we had midfielders playing defense.  Naturally we got killed in the game.
It wasn't so terrible and I did have some decent plays.  I wasn't in constant pain during the game so I could actually run without feeling like dying.  Maybe I played a little too conservatively, but there's always next week....well after New Years that is.
My favorite part of the game has got to be the last two minutes.  It's when both teams are trying their best to get one last goal.  Some players are watching the clock waiting for the final buzzer, while others step it up a notch.  That's when I like to play stopper.  It is actually easier at this point because that's when people don't like to pass the ball and I know that.  They are more interested in their own stats as opposed to some good passing and an easy goal.  Whenever I can hold off a goal in the final minutes it feels like a birdie on the 18th hole.  Last night was a good game.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Jesus Christ

This morning I learned how Socrates basically ruined philosophy over two thousand years ago...I guess around the time the Buddha was touring India, but I can't confirm that.  Anyway, before Socrates probably one of the first "Masters of the Universe," Pythagoras, of the theorem fame, who, by the way, never put any of his thoughts into writing, took the world by storm using mathematics, philosophy, religion, and mysticism among other fields of study.  He was a true polymath in the likes of da Vinci and company who graced the world with incredible insight and charisma.  That got me thinking of Jesus. 
It is undeniable the contributions Jesus made to the world, but as blasphemous as it may be, he was rather limited in his fields of expertise.  Ok, so he was the son of a carpenter.  He was like Alvin Maker.  But I wonder if he got A's in school?  Was he in the gifted and talented program?  Were the drawings his mother put on the refrigerator, like, masterpieces, or were they scribbles not unlike my own daughters'?  Where is the Jesus Theorem?  or the Jesus Stock Market Index?  I'm sure he would have earned a few honorary doctorates in theology, but what of the sciences?  What about mathematics?
That would be a good area to research.  If he was so smart, then he probably wasn't as one dimensional as he is depicted today.  I mean, wouldn't that be plausible?  It seems that just about all of the great philosopher were equally master mathematicians.  Why else would I be relearning calculus at 40?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

It's all in the shoes

A couple of days ago I followed an much taller and older man into Starbucks.  I noticed is beat up clothes and his nice leather dress shoes.  Immediately I thought about how the shoes make the man and my notions were confirmed when I heard him order.  He spoke with an aristocratic Italian accent as he ordered 4 coffees and 2 hot chocolates.  Immediately I penned him for being the boss and he was getting hot beverages for his staff who were working early on Saturday morning.  I liked how he talked assuredly when he ordered.  He didn't ask for the coffees, but ordered them.  I think he is used to ordering people around.  Nice.  I want to learn that skill.

Dreaming of the beach

I don't know what it means, but I was dreaming of being at the beach with three of my kids.  Two were playing in the sand as I was trying to explain to my elder daughter how the beach can contain the massive ocean and that the sand is the container wall, as wide as it is.  Then a wave engulfed us.  It wasn't like a tsunami, but in an instant we were up to our necks in water.  I rushed back to where my younger children were playing and they were 10 feed under water.  The water was pretty clear and I could see them as shadows.  In a panic, before I could dive down to get them I woke up.

P.S. I had a dream the other night where I read the title of some new book that hasn't yet been written.  I wonder if that is a book I'll write.  I can't remember the title now, but I remember thinking it was unique being able to read while dreaming.

Finger on the pulse

Heard story about some guy who played an integral part to the Great Inflation of the 60's.  He was the Chairman of one of Kennedy's economic teams.  There is some book out now about it.  I heard the author being interviewed on Bloomberg radio as I drove home from work last night.

This economist, though was the one who took a lot of credit simply because of his post.  The ideas set forth weren't even his own, but an aggregate of his team's findings.  It reminded me of what I read once about Marx and his Communist Manifesto.  One historian documented that Marx's ideas were not necessarily his own, but he was simply reiterating what he saw was evolving in Eastern Europe at the time.  Another benefactor to good timing was Rousseau and his knowledge of the popular taste in music.  He lived during the time when French classical music was at it's peak, but he favored Italian music and years later the popular culture confirmed his early conjectures. 

There is great reward in being ahead of the curve, but not too far.  Good old Nassim Taleb is one such benefactor as well as Malcolm Gladwell, even if some consider them charlatans.  I am sure history has produced countless examples.  What does this mean?  Skate to where the puck is headed, not where it's been.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Secret to Life

The secret to life is to know what to do without thinking about it. The only trouble is, you are either there or you aren't. There is no in between.

Fatal flaws

Have you ever made a new friend only to one day find a "fatal flaw" in them and then your relationship is poisoned ever after?

Google killer

The biggest threat to Google is Google. If it perfects search and everything can be found, surfers will soon find out that everything being added to the net is "noise" and that the attention sucking nature of the web has diminished it's returns...well for me at least.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

On Fathers and Sons

So many stories have been written about the dynamics between fathers and sons.  Some recent stories that I have read come to mind...The House of Mondavi and Hart's Hope.  Even Disney stories such as the Lion King.  Many of these stories are tragedies.  How can I learn from them?  Should I have be a better communication with my own sons?  Should I have a better relationship with my own father?  I believe some portion of my sons' successes and failures will be attributable to my own.  Maybe they are unavoidable.  Maybe the only thing that is important is that to maintain the status quo.  Do you cast off the second born and put your efforts into the first born?  I think that simply putting your efforts into any of your kids is the mininum that needs to be done.  I don't see that happening least in my family.  Hopefully I can do a better job.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Hart's Hope

I recently finished listening to an audiobook, Hart's Hope, a pre-Ender Wiggins Orson Scott Card novel.  He's such a good author.  I think that I can appreciate good books more than ever after having learned much from the writings of Wittgenstein, et al. (ala Paul Strathern).  People are complex, yet they are simple.  In not being able to see themselves, the mask what they see in the world.  It's probably better that way.  Ignorance is bliss.  However, once you reach a tipping point (sarcasm), you can more appreciate the subtleties of interpersonal relationships, especially in a good pice of fiction.  Fiction is unique in that the author makes the supposition that they know how you think and their characters would act and more importantly think, in a way that is believable to you, yet they do not know you, nor do they know what you think, even if you had the opportunity to tell them.  It seems like a very difficult job, yet there are so many people who are good at it.  Can a work of fiction change how people act in the real world?  The in fact maybe the fiction is not fiction anymore.  If a kid emulates GTA and does some crimes, then GTA is no longer fantasy, but fact.  Weird.  Making fiction become fact must be something like changing the world.  Cool.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Who Would Have Thunk Goldman Tanks?

I have first hand experience working at Goldman.  I was a temp there for something like 3 years.  It was a lot of fun and I learned a lot about how the world works...mostly after I had left.  I actually quit to work for a start up skunk where I put in my dues and got out next to nothing (material that is).  If I could do it over again, I'd probably try to do things differently, but would probably end up in the same boat.  Goldman was the best of the best.  I watched people go through the interview process, I saw 2 year analysts get trashed at the Christmas parties, I made them institute a dress code for casual Friday because I had a different idea of casual.  It was a great time in my life.  Now seeing GS trading lock and step with Citi is quite surprising.  I don't know much about Citi except that I closed my account with them 10 years ago because I didn't like their fees back then.  I'm sure I'd have a cow if I knew what they charge now.  I wonder why people are fleeing from GS shares?  Maybe the gold standard is no longer Goldman.  Too bad, but I guess you reap what you sow.

Older Posts