Monday, May 09, 2005

Waves

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Here is a valuable insight from the Elliott wave's Robert Folsom in today's Market Watch:

"If a writer knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one ninth of it being above water."

"Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words? He thinks I don't know the ten-dollar words. I know them all right. But there are older and simpler and better words, and those are the ones I use."

"All our words from loose using have lost their edge."

These quotes belong to Ernest Hemingway, who put more than an edge on the words he used. While I’m at it, here’s related thought from Truman Capote, a fellow whose prose wasn’t bad either:

"I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil."

If you appreciate writing that doesn't waste a word, Hemingway and Capote are a delight, as are authors such as E.B. White, Orwell, and C.S. Lewis.

I can also tell you where you will not find fat-free prose: Namely among the highest-scoring SAT essays written by students who take the revised SAT exam.

When asked how students should prepare for this essay, the professor who directs undergraduate writing at M.I.T. did not say a word about grammar, style, or accuracy: "I would advise writing as long as possible, and include lots of facts, even if they're made up."

Now, don't get mad at this professor – he doesn't like it either: "It's exactly what we don't want to teach our kids." Yet the New York Times reports that after the professor "looked at the 15 samples… that the College Board distributed to schools nationwide," "reviewed the 23 graded essays on the College Board Web site… and the 16 'anchor' samples the College Board used to train graders," he bluntly concluded that the longer the essay the better the score: "I have never found a quantifiable predictor in 25 years of grading that was anywhere near as strong as this one. "

What's more, after he saw that long essays could be rife with factual errors and still get a top score, he checked the official guide for scorers. It said, "You are scoring the writing, and not the correctness of facts."

This revised approach to writing in the SAT exam began this year, though it was announced in 2003.

What's this got to do with finance and investing? Put simply, "fuzziness" and "dullness of focus" come with the negative mood of a bear market, whereas clarity and sharp focus reflect a bull market. The psychology is real, and observable, and large enough to show up in countless places -- from the stock market to student essays."

What has this to do with poker? When you are on a big run it is just as easy to let yourself get stinkin' thinkin' and loosen up as it is for the masses to think they are geniuses and borrow against their house to invest when they market is going up.

the Socionomics book, on the right margin of this page, is all about the congruence of waves in life; observation of the crowd's mood as an indicator of future actions; and is an interesting read. Our little poker fad is probably one of the current waves. If you want to study Elliott Wave for free, and not buy the book, peruse the free tutorial at their club EWI site. The tutorial is more investment oriented, but still very interesting.

You have seen how skirts getting shorter or ties getting wider, or rock getting raunchier, or movies getting more violent, or banks getting aggresive, or.... reflects the social mood. Study the interaction on the macro social level, apply to your micro environment; and back again.

I need better scissors.

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