Tuesday, August 30, 2005

6 question Investor insight


I couldn't decide if this short quiz should go up here or at the BFU blog, BFU won.

The key phrase is "Everyone gets what they really want from investments." (or at the poker table)


My brain just took a detour:

The information age is the death song for socialism and communism. The new network society may not bring about a capitalist nirvana, but the socialist paradigm was created from frustration with industrialization and large economies of scale. That is exactly what will change as enabling technologies allow small groups to be far more efficient than the old massive vertical institutions of the last millennium.

Pursue your own thoughts on this. Just as a note a form of socialism exists at the tribal level, but it is all voluntary and survival based. Socialism at a national level required forced giving (read 'theft from') by the creative, to support the needy. It didn't work well because the creative ended up also forced to support the powerful, the corrupt, and the lazy. Your best people have disincentives to creating, and large incentives to becoming institutionally powerful.

Everything is right with voluntary sharing, everything works wrong with theft and partial redistribution in the name of the "people."

This same "small works better" force will also destroy most of the huge multinational monopolies, so it is not all bad news for the marxists.

"When under the pretext of fraternity, the legal code imposes mutual sacrifices on the citizens, human nature is not thereby abrogated. Everyone will then direct his efforts toward contributing little to, and taking much from, the common fund of sacrifices. Now, is it the most unfortunate who gains from this struggle? Certainly not, but rather the most influential and calculating." - C. F. Bastiat

OK back on the main road, I just wanted to jot that down while I was thinking of it.

I will probably play with that quiz a bit more ( remember the quiz?) and put it up with lots of gory detail on one of my sites.

Best to ya,


Saturday, August 27, 2005

Educational Housekeeping


You may not care, but I've a few new or reworked pages that other the guy may want to see. In the meantime:

Somebody says: "Of no school I am part,
Never to living master lost my heart,
Nor any more can I be said
To have learned anything from the dead."
That statement - subject to appeal -
Means "I'm a self-made imbecile."
- J.W. Goethe,

First I have a rough draft comparing distance learning with B&M.

Next a short bit on English as a second language courses, ESL.

Also I cut the BFU introduction in half, and put the remainder with a bit of a rework on our Bastiat Free University philosophy, on its own page.

You may have already seen the Revive Renaissance Education article, but it got tweaked a bit too.

I've been playing all over the sites. They are still ugly, but now they are wearing some makeup.

That reminds me of a story about Winston Churchill, A lady came up to him at a party and said. "Why mister Churchill you are drunk." He supposedly responded "Yes madam I am, and tomorrow I shall be sober, but you madam are ugly."

Speaking of ugly, we had some problems with Paypal, so we are now using the Amazon Honor system. This looks like a nice tool if you have a small business and want online credit card capabilities. We will use it for both paid registration and donations. For now we continue to underutilize our Silent Partner store, which has check and e-gold as payment and contribution methods.

If you are so inclined, we have some teen age summer missionaries back from Peru at the Junior Partner Ministries Virtual Church. They will be doing some Wednesday meeting postings. One is already up (my daughter).

A final note, I hate biographies, mainly because you can't trust them. I have had a few people I trust suggest that my sites needed my autobiographical support. I have added some bits about this private person on our about page, be sure to miss it.

Best to all,



Monday, August 22, 2005



that's me.

And you.

And everyone else on this planet.

"I was like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me." - Isaac Newton
This is the reality. We have not come so very far from Sir Isaac. We now have a hand full of pebbles, but no understanding of the larger rocks, much less the boulders and beyond a full sea of knowledge.

Our educations have made us into fools. The specialization in narrow subjects made us believe we have knowledge. Our professors acted like the "facts" they presented were proven completely. They lied.

As we advance in our specializations we discover the hidden holes in our subject's knowledge, yet we somehow assume them away and in faith believe the other disciplines lack these holes.

We know much less than what we need to know. The very basics elude us.

If you want proof, ask why there are scientists on every side of almost every fact. Global cooling was the fear as I was growing up. "Facts" proved the earth could not sustain its population to Thomas Malthus in the 18th century; today you can find Scientists that will argue a dozen different positions on the population bomb, all from the same facts. Evolution has dozens of supporting camps, they argue as much with themselves as with creationists, all from the same facts (I have a half boiled other idea myself). Oil is either in a short term constriction or is running out, or a dozen other ideas created from the same facts. Contesting fact interpretations abound on all subjects, to the point Max Planck said:

"An important scientific innovation rarely makes its way by gradually winning over and converting its opponents: What does happen is that the opponents gradually die out."
An important scientific innovation... not convincing by facts, but by survival. If the new innovation is an error, it may take generations to come back to the original knowledge and start over. Knowledge can be gained, lost, recovered, ignored, lost again, and discovered again.

Pythagoras had a number sequence, it was rediscovered by Fibonacci, and Fibonacci was discovered late in the 21st century by financial types. It is now called a Fibonacci sequence by traders, but who knows how many times it has been discovered and by whom?

A major point is that just because a fact or some knowledge exists does not prove it is without error. It is not what we don't know that is dangerous, it is what we know and are wrong that can really hurt us.

If you are still a student, get broad knowledge. The greater your view, the sooner you will acquire the wisdom of known ignorance. Then you can start to learn.

You may need to become a student again, if so, do it for yourself this time.

Until then you need to understand.

We only pretend to know.


Saturday, August 20, 2005

logic from India


Saw this in a blog and decided a large quote was in order:

"Whenever I speak of free markets, empowerment and liberalization to be the best solution to India's poverty problems, I am almost always told that it is easy for me make armchair arguments. Have I ever experienced life in a village, the hunger, the desperation? How can someone who has been an urbanite all his life ever know what is good for the rural poor? There are some basic flaws in this argument. The first one, I think it is somewhat presumptuous to merely go by my present attire and speech and lifestyle, and make conclusions about my economic history, especially for people who have known me for a few minutes, maybe a few months, or at the most a couple of years. The more important flaw in the argument is that these very people suggest that some wise, know-all bureaucrat and regulator who has exactly as much or less knowledge or experience of hunger or poverty or the rural struggle for survival should sit in Delhi, and decide on which district gets how much of the centrally planned monetary allocation for that year to spend on "his" subjects. The whole argument reeks of hypocrisy. In my armchair "solutions", at least I don't presume that I am more intelligent than the poor farmer. I don't underestimate his ingenuity to use his empowered mind to alleviate himself from his impoverished state."

On a personal note, I always wonder why some politico thinks he knows what is best for me, and he has no concept of who I am.

If I put in another quote it is getting away from research and getting into lazy theft, but the blog had some real good points.

"Isn't it true that if you throw enough money at a problem, it will go away? If it does not go away, then you just throw more money at it. I will digress at this point and go back to third year of college, when Mr. Mahajan - the only decent instructor we had back then - used to say," When you blow the fuse in the circuit, your problem is not the blown fuse, it is what caused the overload that blew the fuse. But all we ever do as a solution for a blown fuse is to replace it."

This is good stuff and only part of a well done rant, this is a blog I now have bookmarked,


Monday, August 15, 2005

funky mind jump


Nothing particularly profound, I was just blog hoppin' and found a quote on an engineering student's site:

"Engineers are not superhuman. They make mistakes in their assumptions, in their calculations, in their conclusions. That they make mistakes is forgivable; that they catch them is imperative. Thus it is the essence of modern engineering not only to be able to check one's own work but also to have one's own work checked and to be able to check the work of others." -Henry Petroski

It reminded me of when I was an accountant, you really want someone to re-check your work. Catching an error now can save huge headaches latter.

And then I thought about all these modern economists that make huge assumptions and create models they know will be wrong, but hope will be somewhat useful anyway. These folks, the engineers and the economists, are worlds apart. In the real world you want so much to be accurate you open yourself to inspection. In modern social "science," you get a bit of an insight and create a world of projections around it.

Perhaps that is a first valid clue on the value of a thought. Do you want to push the thought, or do you want to have it challenged?

If all you deal in is words and assumptions, accuracy is no longer imperative, convincing obfuscation is.

Are you convinced?


Saturday, August 13, 2005

No arrows for BFU, yet


I had a nice paranoid post, and Blogger software ate it. See I told ya....

Once Bastiat Free University is fully off the ground and on the radar of educational Luddites, I expect to at least be tracked, and perhaps shot at.

"If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it." - Albert Einstein

You can tell the pioneers, they are the ones with the arrows in their backs.

This pioneer is still sitting on his bunk reading about the great outdoors.

BFU is slowly adding students. Free is a good thing. We now have over 70 courses, and some fine folks like Dr. Nassim Taleb and Doug Casey have helped us along. So far all the comments have been very positive, but we have a long journey to the tipping point.

The tipping point is the straw that broke the camels back, or "that dramatic moment when something unique becomes common."

"An important scientific innovation rarely makes its way by gradually winning over and converting its opponents: What does happen is that the opponents gradually die out." - Max Planck, pioneer of quantum theory

Best to all,


Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Positive ev & Force Majeure



There are much better writers than myself.

For proof, compare this article with the one I posted at BFU.

Maybe you didn't need the convincing, I know I didn't. Like all of you there are things I am good at, and there are things I need to do; very seldom are they the same.

But what the heck, I am enjoying myself. Life is very good.


Ok, this is why I wanted to write this post. I very seldom make predictions, 'cause it is so easy to be wrong. But right now we are at a sweet spot in the transition to bad times.

Right now the world is filled with complacency. Everything just keeps on as it was, smooth and easy. People are getting used to re-financing their house each year to pay bills and get a new car, no problem. The Dow is just about flat for the year, no problem. Etcetera.

Big Problem.

Volatility in the markets is hovering at historic lows. Something is about to happen on a very large scale. What is sweet is that a big move is not priced into the markets. A bet on greatly increased volatility, something like a bear far out of the money straddle on the cubes, has a very good chance of yielding a huge reward vs. a small loss. This is where large fortunes can be made, or manageable chunks of cash lost. This is playing the implied odds with a small bet for a potentially huge pot, very high +ev. The small cost of insurance is not appropriate to the great risk.

I think it was Doug Casey that said "The purpose of a depression is to return money to its rightful owner." All the easy cash that made anyone who financed a house into a genius may be about to disappear. If I'm right you will see it start before year end, and maybe before next month. It will then be a long decade or so before we reach the other side of the river. By then we will be well into the start of the information age; and the rapid shrinking will have started on all the bloated industrial age systems, even the Post Office may finally get privatized. ;>}

The whole world may be about to change. (see above articles)

Of course as Keynes said, "In the long run we are all dead." At least he was right on that one thing.

Interesting times indeed.

If you listen or not to Balaam's Donkey, you will bear the consequences yourself. "This is not investment advice, just a wild ass guess (WAG)." Do your own research, play your own hand, don't bet more than you can afford to lose. If I'm wrong I will still have a bankroll and still be in the game. Do you the same.

When I've heard all I need to make a decision, I don't take a vote.
I make a decision. - Ronald Reagan

This could be a real lively time. Kinda like the song "One dark night when we were all in bed, old mother Kreary(sp) left the Lantern in the shed, and when the cow kicked it over, she winked her eye and said, "it'll be a hot time in the old town tonight." (the supposed cause of the great Chicago fire)

Force Majeure indeed.

Best to all,



Size Matters!


Size Matters!

Sometimes BIG is beautiful.

sometimes small is far more efficient.

It looks like the future of enterprise, government, and education may favor the small.

There is hope for the rest of us.


Friday, August 05, 2005

The times they are a changing


Time to catch a new wave, for me at least. I rode and enjoyed the poker games.

Far out dude.

Time to treat this blog like a part of me, I've mostly left poker as it foams up to the shore, and I'm looking at the next wave set.

For those of you that I've played with and written with, thank you. The poker bloggers are a great bunch. I'll see ya on shore at the parties.

This blog will be more rants and raves as it changes. I'll stick with the business theme 'cause that's what I know, as much as I know anything.

To lay it on the line, I'd suggest you read Prelude to Foundation by Isaac Asimov; if you want to see a good loose parallel to our times, this is it. It is also a good read. If I need a new poker name in the future I might choose Chetter Hummin from that book, it seems to fit.

Asimov is first a futurist and second a great writer.

Off to build BFU.

Best to all,


Thursday, August 04, 2005

Quick rip off post

Goota go,

From Mugambo land, comes this quote:

- John Crudele of The New York Post reports that "American Auto Association calculates that gasoline prices have risen 21.5% since this same time last year. But the government swears gas prices are only 6.9% higher over the year." What a discrepancy! The upshot is "That little trick alone saved the CPI from being 0.53% points higher."

And it is not just about gas, as he goes on to write, "Despite all you've read, the government thinks housing is only 2.2% higher over the past year. Others, including the National Association of Realtors, calculate that housing is up at least 12.5%."

In short, your government has screwed things up royally, but instead of fixing the problems they caused, they prefer to lie about it.

Guess I was wrong, I had thought the lies were smaller then that. Guess worse times call for bigger lies.

Out and about,

c ya,


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