The man who solved the market (Gregory Zuckerman)


Great book !!!  Very easy read. 

Amazing plotting of the how advanced in mathematical modeling, computing power, and programming sophistication allowed traders to find gold within smaller and shorter market fluctuations. 

So much wealth without ever making a widget in the real world....  

The link to Trump’s US presidential win win was emblematic of the way that tech money has effectively created new rulers  - twitter and google - the unelected filterers and selectors of the planet's information.

The Flow

We all follow the flow at some times and in some things.

A life in which we had to universally evaluate the consequences of each action would be full of tension, uncertainty and ultimately disappointment at our inability to have all the necessary data at our fingertips at every moment.

The "flow" allows us to reduce our decision-making burden down to things that we intuit are more crucial for our personal arbitrary value hierarchy.

We move ourselves into jobs, locations, friendship groups/bubbles where we can feel more "flow" and thus avoid the tension of constant challenge.

Nevertheless, many of us also feel the need and, in fact, enjoy the lifelong attempt to construct a model of the universe in our heads that is constantly adjusting to new data.

Sometimes this model exposes a clash of our values with the flow, and we then seek to examine, explain and consider alternate actions.... and the flow changes direction slightly.

e.g. My son challenges me to defend my consumption of meat, and I find that my value set has an obvious internal inconsistency so far ignored in my life. 
As usual, I am looking for a technical fix (artificial meat) and have decided to live with the existing flow (ahhhh bacon !) for the time being. Nevertheless, I am less comfortable with this aspect of my behaviour.

As always, the truth is contingent and partial.

GMail archiving is more important now that Google is removing "free" photo uploads

Now that Google has announced that it will count all photos uploaded after Jun 2021 within the standard 15Gb storage limit of free accounts, it is more important to review what data you need online if you are going to remain free. 

Many people unconsciously use GMail as a defacto document storage system: "Email me that invoice"; "Email me that picture of the damage" etc etc.

These attachments use up online storage. As they get older, they need to be access less and less - probably never - but who wants to spend time evaluating each email from the past each year to check if they still need to be retained.

I have tried a number of approaches to backing up mail via the IMAP interface of programs such as MacMail and Outlook, but the "copy" and "move"  operations on both these systems "choke" and fail when I try to backup the thousands of emails with attachments in year of emails.

The system that I have found works reliably uses Gmail Labels and Google TakeOut:

GMail Labelling

  • Open Gmail and select "All Mail", then find all mail before a certain date (I do this year by year leaving the past 5 years online) using a search term such as "before:2016/01/01" to select all main from 2015 and before.

Google Misleading Messages may lose your emails......

  • Click the selection box to select emails that satisfy the search criteria
  • Click "Select all message that match this search"
  • This is unlikely to select all the messages !!!!!
  • Keep clicking the > sign until it goes grey (indicating that you have got to then end of the emails selected).
  • Then click "Select all message that match this search" to get all the messages
  • Click "Labels" and label all the selected emails e.e. "Before2016"

  • you now have a label that can reliably select all emails that that you found.

  • Google TakeOut - Download all labelled emails.

    • Toggle the selection to Deselect all, then scroll down to select only GMail

    • Click "All Mail data Included" to see the list of available labels.  Select ONLY the label placed on the emails that you want to archive, accept the defaults and click "Create Export"


    • After a while (depending on the size of your archive and how busy Google is !), you will get an email.  Click "Download your files".

    • After they download, uncompress them and you will see a folder:
    • You can browse your emails directly from this folder whenever you like.
    • Most people would like to have the emails collected into an email program on their computer (like Outlook or MacMail) for easier searching.
    • On a mac computer, Open MacMail and File..... Import Mailboxes

    • the Mac will import the mail in "mbox" format.

    • The archive will appear in MacMail

    • After checking that all the mail has been copied into your Archive, you can choose to delete the Google download, or you could put it on an external drive for safe keeping.
    • If you delete the google download, you should make sure that your computer is being backed up (e.g. Apple TimeMachine)

      GMail - Deleting the Archived emails

      • Now that you know your emails have made it to the archive, return to Gmail, select the label, select all emails, and click "Delete"
      • Confirm bulk action

      • And they are gone.

      • Your google storage will be adjusted after a month !!
      • To recover your storage immediately, go the GMail bin and click "Empty Bin Now"

      Falling Leaves (Mah)

      All autobiographies are fiction. Where else would you accept without question years of recollection from a victim - or a perpetrator. Nevertheless autobiography is honest fiction as the bias of the author is obvious and openly declared.

      In “Falling Leaves”, Adeline Yen Mah, recounts her passive acceptance of extreme cruelty from almost all her family members again and again and again. She gives no explanation of why so many of her family were such horrible people other than weakness and greed for access to the immense wealth that her mother-in-law controlled. 
      The extreme abuse is endured in secret by family members nearly all their lives due to the poisonous Chinese cultural belief in saving family “face”.  Mah offers herself to family members for more abuse again and again throughout her life. Mah is perpetually the innocent, brilliant and, most frequently, passive victim in her life story.

      To me, her blamelessness rang hollow and I yearned for other witnesses. To me, her contacts with her family, especially in later years, were masochistic.

      The best character in the book for me was Aunt Baba who showed insight, courage and creativity in so many contacts with Mah.

      The best part of the book was the least reliable i.e. the description of historical events that affected the life of Mah and all her family members.   It is so dangerous but so convincing to read fiction that weaves through history. Our belief in the characters lends credence to their experience of historical events. We incorrectly and dangerously feel that we understand history better.

      The book is an extended experience of “rubbernecking” where we attempt to learn as much as possible about tragic events while feeling pleasure at having been lucky to avoid being the victim ourselves.

      iMovie - Making your first movie

       File Management:  Movies are often huge files.  Movies contain duplicates of the movie clips from cameras or phones.

      • Create a folder on the desktop named after your movie project e.g. "2020-12-31 Boys Trampoline"
      • Copy into this folder all "source" files (movie clips, still photos and audio files) that you want to use in your movie. 
        If you don't want to keep an editable version of the movie project, then delete the movie clips after you copy them to the folder so that the new finished movie will replace them in your "Photos" app.  
        (Yes I know iMovie will connect to the "Photos" and "Music" apps automatically, but, if you wish to archive an editable version of the project, we cannot rely on the same track existing in your "Music" app, or the same photo remaining in your "Photos" app.)
      • Open iMovie - File - Open Library - New

      In the moment with COVID-19

      Every school morning, my brother John and I would escape the cocoon of 4 Ivy St, Burwood and set off towards Ely Road. 

      I remember vividly, the carefree childhood saunter where each foot was thrown forward in the approximate direction of travel while the schoolbag was swung in exploratory arcs that sometimes surprised others or oneself.  

      Every morning was the start of an adventure and any option for meandering was to be taken. There was usually at least one house under construction somewhere along our street as suburbia smothered the Burwood fields.  Here were places to explore and things to pull, wield or throw. 

       At 6, I did not worry about destinations or deadlines.  Responsibility was not in my vocabulary. I was “in the moment” and scanned the world with the eyes of a tourist.  Somedays, there would be puddles to throw rocks into. On freezing mornings, panes of ice could be smashed. I was constantly scanning for objects to squash, scuff, pick up or throw. The freedom from adults was intoxicating. 

      The Social Dilemma: Some proposals

      As social media companies have grown throughout the world, there have been growing concerns that they are increasing social conflict by individually "feeding" information to "users" that moves their interest more and more toward extreme content. The most egregious of these are the murders and suicides streamed to large numbers of people.

      The social media companies initially claimed that they were "neutral platforms" that hosted information but were not responsible for it.  Increasingly, they have accepted responsibility for "curating" extreme content, and employed large numbers of people and built AI to act as censors.  This response has failed to prevent abuses in many instances and also been criticised because of the growing political bias being included in the brief of the censors.

      Life is Elsewhere (Kundera)

      Why young people are such passionate monists, emissaries of the absolute...

      Powerful and seductive chronicle of the life of a sensitive and creative person who expresses his narcissism through writing poetry. Jaromil never escapes the cocoon of his mothers love. His desperate attempts to find recognition and love beyond his mother lead him to ape the sickening social and political trends of his time.

      Kundera writes with wonderful imagery and deep understanding of how youth is inherently and often fatally vulnerable to political extremism: "In immature man the longing persist for the safety and unity of the universe which he occupied alone inside his mother's body. Anxiety (or anger) persists as well - toward the adult world of relativity in which he is lost like a drop in an alien sea. That's why young people are such passionate monists, emissaries of the absolute..." (p220)

      This powerful polemic (sometimes sounding akin to a preachy movie voice over) is sprinkled throughout the book, and used explicitly to return the reader to the birds eye view of the dispassionate observer. 

      Pro familia mori ?

       History is a testament to the inevitability of the rise and fall of cultures.

      Those falling resort to military conflict - or just disappear.
      Where conflict arises, survival is determined by many factors, but passionate commitment to a group is the most important.

      Apart from a gallant but underappreciated few, most Australians born since 1930 have had a dream run.

      Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori - (Ode 3 -Horace)
      Dulce et Decorum est - (Wilfred Owen)

      I wonder whether there are many Australian's left who Pro Patria Mori, or even Pro Publica Mori, or even Pro Familia Mori ???

      Would capitulation bring peace ?  

      Modern Monetary Theory - Only possible for countries with more foreign assets than debts

      The following extract form Wikipedia  seems to summarise my  doubts:

      " MMT argues that as long as there is a demand for the issuer's currency, whether the bond holder is foreign or not, governments can never be insolvent when the debt obligations are in their own currency; this is because the government is not constrained in creating its own fiat currency (although the bond holder may affect the exchange rate by converting to local currency).
      MMT does agree with mainstream economics, that debt denominated in a foreign currency certainly is a fiscal risk to governments, since the indebted government cannot create foreign currency. In this case the only way the government can sustainably repay its foreign debt is to ensure that its currency is continually in high demand by foreigners over the period that it wishes to repay the debt – an exchange rate collapse would potentially multiply the debt many times over asymptotically, making it impossible to repay. In that case, the government can default, or attempt to shift to an export-led strategy or raise interest rates to attract foreign investment in the currency. Either one has a negative effect on the economy. "

      The NIIP seems important in that it calculates the ratio of foreign debt to assets.  Many major countries have far larger foreign debts that foreign assets, making them vulnerable to printing money.  If (when ?) the USA loses its status as world currency they may also have to deal with their astronomical debt.

      I suspect that countries receiving loans under the Belt and Road have negative NIIP's and as such will be "at the mercy" of China when they fail to repay.  I suspect that this is a deliberate strategy of the Chinese government.

      So MMT sounds like it supports a strategy for countries with low foreign debt.

      An analogy I thought of: 
      Gambling in Australia moves money around within the country.  individuals get better or worse off, but the countries wealth is unaffected.  A gambler from another country either wins wealth away from Australia or loses wealth to Australia. When they leave, the country is materially richer or poorer.