Just when you thought it couldn’t get any retarder… Here you’ll find thought snippets, tweets and other short updates in (reverse) chronological order.
Retard’s Motto: Talk softly and carry a big rhubarb umbrella
Expect stories (newest on top, Annie Anal at the bottom) that didn’t make the cut for a full length post or Retard’s Playbook (free eBook coming “soon” so be sure to subscribe to my newsletter to not miss it).
Hendry:Contrarian extraordinaire – March 13, 2016
I watched Real Vision’s hour long interview from March 11 with Hugh Hendry this weekend. Wow, that man has a fascinating and independent intellect!
There are plenty of things I disagree with, and I’m not entirely convinced he himself has fully bought into the new risk-embracing Hendry.
Anyway, it’s good to listen to the other side of the story, and taking in Hugh’s side is like suddenly complementing positive and negative numbers with imaginary numbers.
Mr. Hendry is now using “new era” arguments against Tobin’s Q, albeit I do agree with the idea of GDP being complete bunk (why does Wikipedia not add to GDP, e.g.?). He has also come up with a “new theory” of Creators (debtors, entrepreneurs) vs. Facilitators (creditors, banks, lenders), which he fits every occurrence into, starting with why bonds performed so well the last 45 years compared to stocks.
He applauds central banks in a way suggesting he was Bernanke’s ghost writer for “The Courage To
Most of the interview was a perplexing combination of fascination and pain at the same time. “What is going on?!”, I wanted to say – just like the last man on earth (TV-series) when forced to marry the last woman on earth in order to get laid. One such thing was stating “China is growing faster than the US and Europe and with reasonably low unemployment” – just sweeping all the bad debt troubles (fastest build up in history which has typically been followed by a crisis) under the rug without even a mention.
In any case, a very worthwhile exercise in breaking out of homeostasis. Hugh Hendry’s interview with Raoul Pal at Real Vision (https://realvisiontv.com). However, I’m sticking to my less sanguine mid-term views expressed in this article about oil, central banking DICKs etc..
Hendry and Pal agreed on one thing: short Korea
The giving pledge, where is the wealth? -Feb 3, 2016
When a billionaire gives away a billion dollars that lay idle on his bank account, what happens to wealth?
The recipient gets a benefit of course. He can buy food, machines, services etc. If the recipient uses the money to eradicate polio, the whole world benefits.
Meanwhile, the billionaire is not the slightest affected. Sure, in theory he can buy less goods and services, but he wouldn’t have (idle cash). His heirs will get less than otherwise, but that might be far in the future…
Is total system wealth higher as a consequence of the giving pledge? A benefit for the recipients with no discernible drawbacks for the giver?
The answer is of course that the wealth given is just as high as the wealth received.
Or is it that easy? What if the money had just been left in the bank account. Would the world have been worse off? I can’t answer that, and that annoys the mustard out of me.
Anyway, the amount of that wealth is worthy of some consideration:
What kind of wealth is money at the bank? It’s just a promise, a potential that somebody else will take the money as a temporary store of wealth in exchange for goods and services. That person in his turn receives that potential.
But if the money never changed hands, would the world be worse off? Wouldn’t the same goods and services be produced and change hands somewhere anyway? Why would the altering of digital numbers in a bank server cause real world events in aggregate?
What if the USD was discontinued…
The trillions of dollars held in bank accounts would become worthless, but the same land, the same machines, the same people, the same knowledge, all production factors and real wealth would stay exactly the same. Sure, there would be a lot of new friction in the system and the economy would grind to a halt, but momentarily wealth would be the same, wouldn’t it? Just redistributed from lenders to borrowers.
This probably should be in Economy 101, but after a masters in Financial Economics and two decades as a financial analyst and hedge fund manager, I still can’t wrap my brains around the issue.
Along with cash losing its value, all debts would disappear, making debtors wealthier (relieved of their promises to deliver cash back – or goods and services).
But are total debts and cash equally large? Note, since it has to be “clean” debt and true cash. Remember that, e.g., stocks, real estate etc. hold claims on real assets and couldn’t care less if a currency became void.
If I personally started issuing IOUs, way more than I could ever deliver on, the holders might feel rich but they wouldn’t be. Would that cause positive and sustainable effects, or just a temporary blip and euphoria driven malinvestments making everybody worse off?
Is the same thing going on on the largest of scales? Well, yes, of course it is – at least if we involve government debt. Hardly any government these days stands a chance of paying back its debt and deliver on its promises. But the government debt is nevertheless treated as secure wealth: People don’t save, people speculate, people take risks (could be a positive though) etc. since they feel their retirement is secured by pensions and government bonds.
What about banks? The fractional banking system means banks can print more or less as much money as they want to, lending with one hand and creating cash with the other. But the cash received by borrowers is most often used for buying assets right away (and the receiver of that cash deposits it, thus giving the bank a base for creating 10x more debt), meaning there is always much much more debt around than cash.
There is something deeply disturbing about this. It really is a house of cards.
Any decent Austrian economist probably could explain it to me (although I might still not understand it), but I kind of get why other schools of economics just assumed away the banking system altogether.
Money in aggregate definitely isn’t wealth, it’s just a unit of account of promises. The wealth is in all the real world resources. But one billionaire giving money away still makes a lot of other people’s lives much better, by catalyzing action, or rather by redirecting action – since no new people on aggregate should spring to action due to a few digital switches going from 0 to 1 or vice versa.
And yet, there is dozens or a hundred times as much debt as there is cash. So, if a few digital gates were opened or closed, a few trillion dollars in cash would disappear at the same time as hundreds of trillions of dollars in debt would vanish, making debtors vastly richer and the debt issuers poorer to the same extent.
All of this confusion started with me wondering how the redistribution of non-wealth money from a billionaire to somebody else could cause sustainable positive effects. I mean, it’s just money!
Printing more of it definitely doesn’t help. We know that much at least.
Wow! Mind blown, November 30, 2015
I just finished listening to episode 124 of The Brain Science Podcast with Dr Ginger Campbell. The entire podcast series is amazing but this was one of her best episodes. Apart from this one I particularly like the ones about plasticity, BDNF, brain evolution and several shows about the connectome.
I laughed out loud (for real) when Dr Campbell said “That’s wild!”, regarding brain scans of non-blind people reading braille with and without blindfolds. When blindfolded, the brain used regions of the brain normally “reserved” for visual tasks, but other regions when the blindfold comes off.
Michael Anderson, author of “After phrenology” explained how he then went on to find more and more “neural reuses” and realized it’s a widespread feature of the brain. One of the conclusions of his book is that the brain functions in temporary coalitions of brain regions for different tasks, and even single neurons do different tasks (excitation vs. inhibition. e.g., and different neurotransmitters for different tasks).
This may sound complicated if you’re new to brain research. And if you can’t imagine listening to the entire 1h 07 minute episode, just take your time to listen to Dr Campbells 10 minute summary at the end.
The brain does not work through mechanical representation in specific areas of the brain, then performing computations and handing “you” the output. It functions through constant interaction between varying regions, the body, and the environment.
For, me, however, the best thing with today’s episode was the “That’s wild!” exclamation regarding a quite esoteric piece of brain research information.
P.S: Don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter
Throwback Thursday, September 24, 2015
More or less exactly 10 years ago, maybe on a Thursday, the phone kept ringing, and I kept sleeping right through it, barely registering something was up.
I had been partying all night, and I vowed to my girlfriend lying next to me that I didn’t have any appointments. I had the mother of hangovers. Dizzy, headache, a tingling sensation all over, feeling heavy, slow, tired and nauseous.
FYI, I had very recently become Managing Director of the hedge fund, where I was partner and portfolio manager. Being 2005, it was right in the middle of the ten year stretch that put the “decade” in our award the “European Hedge Fund Of The Decade (2000-2009)”
Around lunchtime I eventually checked my voicemail… and had 18 messages! All were from my closest colleague, one angrier than the other.
“Where are you? The board meeting has begun!”
This was not only a board meeting, it was my first board meeting as the managing director and I apparently had some official duties. As it turned out, the meeting was postponed quite a few hours, just enough for me to clean up, put on a suit and tie and drag my sorry self into the office. Not my proudest moment.
To my defense, board meetings in a hedge fund are a complete waste of time. They are only there for the authorities’ sake. Nothing actually gets decided there, just rubber stamped.
Making Not To Do lists, August 21, 2015
One of my maxims is to never do today what can safely be put off until tomorrow, or way later.
An important tool for this is the Not To Do list.
Whenever I come up with ideas, projects, things that need fixing, researching etc. I write them down in a Not To Do list of things that don’t have to be attended to right away, but are nevertheless interesting or important.
It calms the mind, and puts me at ease now that I know it won’t be forgotten but can be restored and managed at any given future time that is idle, boring or has made the project relevant or even urgent.
Sleepy thoughts, August 19, 2015
You know the feeling of a fresh, newly bought pillow? Or after washing it and and drying it thoroughly? I have that feeling every night, but I guess you do to unless you are too retarded to keep (at least) two sets of pillows and simply rotate them every night.
I hope you never make the bed with your pillows under the covers. How are they supposed to breathe, dry, and become fresh and fluffy?!
Programmer or retarded? Normalized Singularity – August 19, 2015
Finland starts teaching programming in all schools next year. Stockholm, Sweden, is introducing programming too. UK and the U.S. also has some programming on the curriculum. Good. But you should too.
Ten years from now, most young people competing for your job will have an almost innate understanding of data logic thinking, internet of things and so on. Actually, that was exactly what propelled Finland to begin teaching programming – they realized if they waited ten years, they would be very late to the game.
What excites me even more is that the next generation of programmers will take for granted that there will be thinking machines in the future, and thus they will want to be the first to make one.
Once you think it’s possible to build a locomotive, a helicopter, a spaceship, a submarine, a vac train or a strong artificial general intelligence, the focused attention makes it so much more likely you’ll succeed.
But let’s start with vac trains (“hyperloops”), at least in parallel with the AI business.
A bicep’s difference the size of a world’s – August 12, 2015
If you take a standard male upper arm, like mine, it’s circumference is 16 inches (when flexing). The earth’s circumference for comparison is 1.6 billion inches, or 100 million times bigger.
If you elongate a piece of string, that starts out fitting snuggly around the biceps and triceps, by let’s say 3 inches (who wouldn’t want an arm like that; 19″? My little brother is at 20″, but let’s be modest), it would hover… about 0.5″ from the arm all the way round.
How much would you need to elongate a piece of string around the world to make it hover the same 0.5″ from the surface all way round?
This is not a test, it’s more an observation of how little formulas from middle school stick, and how little we understand what they actually are saying. The answer, btw, is ‘just as much’; three inches.
Pigs and poverty vs. religion – August 12, 2015
Do you remember when people thought pork was banned by Judaism due to the risk of catching trichinosis (Trichinella)?
That was a fun rumor started in the 19th century when the Trichinella life cycle was discovered. Trichinella might not even have existed 2 millennia ago. In addition, the long (7-10 days) incubation period would have made the association between pork and trichinosis improbable at the time.
No, the real reason Judaism chose a pork ban for distinction was that it was associated with poverty; pigs lived with poor people, ate their garbage and the poor people then ate the pigs. Everybody but the poorest avoided pork to not be associated with the poor, not least priests and other high ranking members of society.
When Romans (first the Greek actually) conquered Palestine, they forced pork onto their captives as soon as they realized their distaste. Consequently, as soon as possible, the Judaism priesthood banned pork officially, with no reference to the risk of trichinosis whatsoever. (reference: the Gastropod podcast about the science and history of food)
Religious people are nice to have around. You always have a ripe candidate for the butt of any joke.
Whale poo ice cream, and the color purple vs. big pharma – August 5, 2015
At least you can’t blame the headline for not being retarded enough.
Anyway, I just wanted to tell you about two small masterpieces that recently appeared in podcast space: The Scoop On Ice Cream (46 minutes, July 28, 2015) by Gastropod, and The Colour Purple (27 minutes, July 27, 2015) by Discovery (BBC World Service).
These two magically entertaining episodes deal with the superficially mundane occurrences of ice cream and dye.
You’ll learn that, contrary to the claims of some history books, neither Medici, nor Marc O’Polo were involved in bringing ice cream to Europe. You’ll learn that if it smells like poo, walks (comes) out the back like poo and looks like poo, it’s really tasty in ice cream (for a while).
You’ll learn that purple dye came about in the search for malaria vaccine, but ended up as a Victorian fashion statement before spurring the entire science of chemistry and pharma – all the way back to malaria vaccine.
School children had to sit for hours, can you imagine that?! – July 21, 2015
Remember when you took healthy 1-6 year-olds that were used to run around all day, to squat, to climb, to duck, to run, and forced them to sit?
Yes, it’s true. We used to systematically enforce sitting for most of the day, imprinting a poisonous habit that would stick for the rest of their lives and cause incalculable injuries and illness.
We now know sitting is the new smoking, and kids no longer sit in chairs in school, but stand, walk, squat, sit on the floor, have stand only desks.
A pre-retard’s hygiene routine 125 months ago, July 21, 2015
I just clipped this from my online diary February 21, 2005
I killed the lights at 01:30, after my personal hygiene routine and a few minutes of the TV series “Oz”.
This morning when the alarm went off at 6:59, I felt a bit hungover but the alco tester showed 0.00.
I wet my face to soften and bloat the facial hair before shaving, moisturized my thighs with Nivea Gingko, deodorized with Nivea Dry, then had a cup of coffee and proceeded with the actual shaving.
I use Lactacyd gentle liquid soap instead of shaving foam, because of its correct pH level and anti-bacterial properties. After shaving I moisturized with Dermalogica active moisturizer on the entire face and neck, perfecting the treatment with Dermalogica’s oil control lotion on the nose and neck to prevent a shiny look as well as outbreaks. On the sensitive skin around the eyes, I use yet another lotion from Dermalogica.
I took care of my red eyes with Visine, which I bought in Mexico a good year ago and sprayed some Burberry “weekend” on my neck.
Today’s outfit: a pink shirt, black tie, dark striped Tiger suit, Boss belt and the usual Tiger coat and black shoes.
Greenspan spoke yesterday: no changes, markets stable
Remember that time when the industrial revolution almost didn’t happen? -July 17, 2015
In 1759 James Watt was encouraged to take a look at a Newcomen steam engine (invented in 1712). Six years later Watt had an eureka moment on how to drastically improve its efficiency.
Two years later he gave up, thinking it was impossible (e.g., certain parts couldn’t be manufactured precisely enough). Both he and his financier were bankrupt.
Ten years after his paradigm shattering design idea, he was depressed and working a normal 9-5 job. The designs collected dust on some shelf, all but forgotten.
Then the eccentric Matthew Boulton came along and encouraged JW to try again, and not too long after the modern steam engine saw the light of day. It ushered in the industrial revolution and lay the foundation for all of today’s prosperity. It almost didn’t happen due to James Watt’s limited, non-growth, mindset.
Boulton had apparently adopted the change/growth mindset that researchers advocated in 1975 and is described in this highly recommended 2007 article, whereas Watt thought he had hit his fixed ability ceiling.
Retard goes mainstream – July 15, 2015
Don’t talk to me about Greece! I could go on about the negotiation rounds concerning Greece and the euro here, but I wont… just a little bit.
Talk about mainstream politicians gone full retard. What’s really going on is of course not that a country representing a few percent of the EU or euro is particularly important in itself. However, if the euro is not irreversible, it’s not irreversible (you can never go wrong with a tautology, remember that kids).
If Greece leaves (is allowed to leave) then Italy, Spain, Portugal, France (yes, the land of frog legs is actually in deep trouble, not to mention their banks) and more will be exposed. Actually, it’s only Germany that truly belongs in the euro. But even Germany (not to mention poor little Finland) will have trouble shouldering all the bad debt in Europe – that’s actually the reason why they are prepared to do almost anything to keep the euro alive.
Enough about the retarded European politicians and on to today’s topic: telecom
Since I retired fully and completely on January 1, 2015, I have lived without a cellphone subscription and instead relied on WiFi hotspots for outdoors communication. I think it worked fine, and I have truly enjoyed the silence. Not all my friends though, actually none of them appreciated this stunt.
There is one problem though… Almost every online service requires a mobile number for SMS authentication. It’s difficult to order anything, become a member anywhere, without at least a number to receive text messages to. After my phone crashed and had to be reinstalled I realized I couldn’t even get my Whatsapp back without a mobile number (for text messages, and it couldn’t be just any number, it had to be my number).
Hence, I have today arranged with a cell phone service. Since I wanted to use my old number (that have thankfully remained unused these 6 months, not least considering I kept using it for payment services as it was connected to my bank account!) I had to receive a text message to that number, in order to confirm its transfer to my new operator.
That turned out to be a real catch-22 situation (read the book by the way, I loved its dry humor):
I couldn’t just ask my new operator to give me that number, and my old operator couldn’t transfer it for me.
Eventually, I had to visit a physical (!) Telenor store today, sign up for a new subscription there at my old operator (Telenor), change the number there and then to my old, wanted, number. Then ask my new operator to ask Telenor to transfer the number. Doing so I received a text message, on my just signed Telenor service, with a control code that I could supply to my new operator.
Within two weeks I should have my old number for use with my new operator and can cancel Telenor (30 day return policy, so I should be able to get out unscathed).
Meanwhile, I actually have a cellphone subscription with Telenor, with my old number, just like any normal person.
Dark matter resolves the Fermi paradox – July 11, 2015
The elephant in the room has always been “Where is everybody?!”
Back in the old days, they solved the problem with gods and a very small and young “planet universe”.
In present time we can all extrapolate our own technology, and realize that the entire universe would be infused with intelligence as fast as light can travel, possibly faster, starting in just a hundred years or so.
And, we simply can’t be the most technologically advanced and intelligent species to ever evolve in the entirety of space and time. Hence, somebody else did it before and better, but where are they?
It should be obvious that “they” don’t look like us – carrying around a lot of unnecessary organic material that needs constant maintenance is just too weird to contemplate. It’s also easy to understand why they haven’t made direct contact. I mean, microbes and plants don’t really seem to understand us either. Why bother?
However, they should still show in some way… and maybe they do.
This picture of the distribution of dark matter in the universe, that was constructed through clever wave analysis, could hold the answer; It’s them! Dark matter and dark energy make up 96% of the universe. Perhaps that’s what a sufficiently strong AI chooses to transcend to.
Theory and probability tell us they should be everywhere in an old universe (like ours), littered with billions and billions of earth-like planets. And they are (given that they are dark matter and energy).
Do you want what I am having? ;)
Crack-up boom – the weird death jerk of the Greek economy, July 9, 2015
In German it’s called “Katastrophenhausse” (a powerful word that should be clear even to English readers) and was coined by Ludwig von Mises (who else?).
It’s what happens when civilians lose faith in cash and goes on a shopping spree for anything tangible, to avoid deposit haircuts and other capital control measures. It starts as a boom, but soon goods run out and retailers raise prices faster and faster in what could lead to hyperinflation.
It’s what happening in Greece right now. Some pay their taxes in advance, since even that could be worth more than having the bank account decimated.
The universe doesn’t care what an organic blob considers reasonable – July 8, 2015
Do you remember when people thought the 3 lb organic jelly lodged in primates on a pale blue dot around the year 0,0000001 A.D. (vs. the current age of the universe; Big Bang at 1.0 B.C.) would for all eternity be the peak intelligence unit throughout the universe?
That was retarded. Kind of like believing in God.
WHAT?! There still are skeptics? And God fearers?!
If these primitive jelly operated primates, with their just 100 year old technology (0,000001 Gyr old), can discover DNA and stem cells, treat brain cancer with their worst enemies (polio), make exaflop computers (up to 100x the power of a human brain), it must be obvious that another just 100 years equivalent down the line, they will improve enough to increase both longevity and intelligence beyond their own unenhanced capacity.
By the way, do you remember when insurance companies in the 1920’s said that the 80-year old trend of steady increases in life expectancy (from 45 years to 65 years) would grind to a halt right there and then?
That was fun.
Well, I’m sorry to say (not) that the longevity trend has continued unabated for another 100 years. And in some 15-20 years is when we really kick in the next gear(s).
AI is coming. Super longevity is coming. Anything else would be extremely weird.
Remember that the laws and possibilities of the universe really don’t care one iota what your jelly blob considers reasonable.
This one goes to eleven! – July 5, 2015
[sales pitch from Hi-Fi stereo sales men, demonstrating amplifiers that don’t stop at 10 or at straight up, but go one more unit, “to 11!” and thus are obviously better than the ones that stop at 10 units or 12 O’clock]
My new company celebrated its initiation with a thai dinner tonight. While browsing places we found Tjabba Thai close by. Their courses typically showed 1-3 chilis as a gauge of their strength. Two courses had 4 (!), and one single course stood out like a sore thumb with 6 (six) chilis.
Anecdotes on the internet described how the personnel refused to serve that course to non-thais.
We went there, and I confidently ordered the 6 chili course. The waiter smiled uncertainly but I seemed to know what I was doing so he didn’t say anything.
I gauged my heart rate throughout the meal, and quite surprisingly it stayed as low as 68 bpm at the very peak capsaicin effect right at the end of the course.
Afterward, the waitress (a different person brought the check, than the waiter serving us) said she was impressed. I countered that I wasn’t warned. She made an embarrassed noise and face and explained that my tan made the waiter think I was half thai…
That’s what I get for being fully retired and spending all my time outside… Full retard on all accounts – including the tan and the chili.
The lesson here is: Trust no one, least of all people touting scales that go above the scale… It was extremely hot though and I won’t be ordering that soon again.
Pretty fly for WiFi
Learn to take a loss – July 4, 2015
All you have is now, the time between the unchanging past and unknowable future. But now doesn’t exist more than the line between water and sand does. It’s either water or sand; no line.
-for relations as well as investing
Bonus: ask yourself “what’s wrong with right now“, anytime you feel regret or fear. Yeah, sure, “it hurts, you feel shame, it’s a loss, what will happen now” etc. but right, right now? Learn to take a loss.
Mobility for retards – June 23, 2015
I may look like Kermit the muppet when I do my exercises, but just a few minutes a week can mean the difference between looking young and being healthy vs. injuries and appearing older than you are.
Check out these 10 mobility exercises (+ a few self massage techniques)
Always bring your phone to the gym – June 20, 2015
Have you noticed the guys fiddling with their phones more than they move weights? They are often the strongest and biggest guys around. They don’t talk, they don’t ogle, they don’t fuck around. They are meticulous and disciplined. You want to be one of the phone guys.
You should always have your phone by your side when in the gym. Make sure you use it between every set, and sometimes during the sets.
You need it for documenting and analyzing your technique, for keeping exact records of your workouts, for time keeping and discipline – making sure you rest just the amount you were planning to, not missing any exercises, sets or reps and using the appropriate weights.
Don’t maintain skills – June 19, 2015
Do or do not. Never maintain.
When you are learning a new skill, go all in for a limited period.
- Immerse yourself in DuoLingo, books, grammar and speaking out loud, when studying a new language. The intensity and constant repetition improves not only your language proficiency but your actual ability to learn new things, your brain plasticity.
- Power through Khan Academy’s math section during a few weeks or months
Once you’ve reached a certain desired level for a skill, let it go.
There is no use in wasting time maintaining knowledge in French, Portuguese or math, e.g., if you’re not actually going to use it.
That time should be spent intensely acquiring another skill (or relaxing).
Once you’ve got a trip planned to Rio, spend a week brushing up and you’ll be good to go.
The same goes for muscle development. Focus on increasing your strength, or muscle volume for a specific muscle. Then proceed to the next project/muscle, rather than going to an endless series of workouts just maintaining, never progressing.
-Unless you’re just after the health benefits, then it’s okay to simply take long walks, complemented by non-progressive strength training.
When it becomes serious, you have to lie – June 16, 2015
These words of wisdom comes not from yours truly, but the man that most embodies the dream of a federal Europe: Jean Claude Juncker. It’s hard to get any retarder than Draghi (“I’ll do whatever it takes” to print money to spend on keeping Greece in the euro just a few unnecessary extra years, against its and everybody else’s will – but my cronies’), but Juncker still takes the price.
Sure, negative interest rates are a good start, but Jean-Claude roundhouse-kicks the living daylights out of all sanity, when he smooths over every megalomanic action by European politruks, with a public call to official deception of the masses.
Hence, coming from the retardest man in Europe (nobody can touch Kuroda of Japan), this page has no choice but to take Juncker’s advice at face value.
In May 2011, he told a meeting of the federalist European Movement that he often “had to lie” and that eurozone monetary policy should be discussed in “secret, dark debates”
Mr Juncker was also closely linked to the EU constitution, before the French referendum on it in 2005 he predicted, correctly, that Europe would ignore any popular rejections.
“If it’s a Yes, we will say ‘on we go’, and if it’s a No we will say ‘we continue’,” he said.
At the beginning of , Mr Juncker was forced to deny that he had an alcohol problem after Jeroen Dijssebloem, the Dutch finance minister, described him as a “heavy drinker”.
And what better to lie about in Europe than debts? Remember “austerity”? You know, when the worst offending countries in the euro crisis were supposed to put a lid on public spending to keep debts and debt ratios in check?
Guess what? Since then, debts haven’t missed a beat, actually accelerating upward; and debt ratios have increased every single year.
Now what? I know, let’s show Greece even more leniency… If going retard anyway, why not go full retard?
Some people drink coffee every day, sometimes more than one cup – June 8, 2015
Some of those still think addictive drugs should be illegal
I drink one cup every second day: on workout days, about 90 minutes after waking up, after my morning walk with the dog but before my workout session.
Not drinking coffee every day makes sure you get a better effect when you do drink. Not drinking directly after waking both increases the effect and reduces the drug’s addictiveness.
Don’t work out everywhere – June 6, 2015
Sure, you can make push-ups and what have you everywhere. But should you?
I say, make a plan and stick to it. It doesn’t help you reach your strength or muscle volume goals, if you anxiously wear yourself out (both physically and psychologically) at sub-optimal times. In addition, I assume you are interested in many other things than just physical fitness. So stop doing (too light anyway) unscheduled pushups, situps etc. just because the laws of the universe allow it.
Post-mortems for the dead, pre-mortems for the living – June 5, 2015
Many, including me, will tell you to embrace failure. It’s easier said than done, but still not that hard if you already have achieved a certain success.
Nevertheless, what’s sometimes omitted is that failures should be identified and accepted, celebrated even, while they are still small or at least not fatal. Injury is okay; death is not.
In investing, e.g., you want to avoid going broke; that’s why stop-losses exist, no matter how painful or wrong they prove to be.
Here is how a pre mortem procedure was described in a recent Freakonomics podcast:
Gather the team, tell them to relax and open up the mind for thinking without prejudice. “Close your eyes and imagine the project was a failure, so bad we avoid eye contact when we meet”. “Now take two minutes to write down your best guess as to why that happened”. Collect the top explanation from each participant and then let the group brain storm around solutions to prevent those exact things from happening.
You can do this alone with everything from doing a road trip with the family, to managing your investment portfolio or analyzing a particular company.
“The 1986 Challenger catastrophe (7 dead) was caused by launching in lower temperatures than the O-rings were made for. The responsible person never gave the all clear, but his bosses at NASA went ahead anyway. Talk about unnecessary post mortem”
WBW’s extremely long pro Tesla post – June 4, 2015
Reading this post on my phone outside in the sunshine was pretty retarded. I’m still glad I did it.
Be warned though; it’s very one-sided (praising Tesla), and I personally am not sure Musk or his companies will survive to deliver the Future envisioned in the post. I’m not even entirely sure we’ve understood the long temperature waves on earth (due to earth’s wobbling axis, due to solar activity, ecological feedback etc.).
However, I’m quite sure solar power will be big, unless we stumble upon the solution to controlled nuclear fusion. I’m also pretty sure we won’t run our cars on fossil fuels in the future – although we might run them on clean oil made by bacteria or algae (that extracts as much carbon from the atmosphere as the cars later emit).
I’m also pretty sure, the TSLA share will fall by around 83% :) from its current levels within 2 years. Then we’ll see if the company survives and if Musk manages to deliver sensible electrical cars at sensible prices – and reinvent the battery market.
Profits are for losers anyway; sales too. June 1, 2015
Mr Three Commas (billionaire) explained it best in HBO’s show “Silicon Valley” season 2: Sales and profits will always disappoint sooner or later. It’s better to have none of that, and let imagination soar without bounds.
I of course do not agree at all with that nonsense, but it’s fun!
pic from zerohedge
Taleb, Thales and SpreZZatura – May 30, 2015
Secure outcome tails Taleb style, and know thyself as Thales, and you’ll be spreZZaturian as Bond:
-Once you have a truly solid footing mentally and financially/physically, living with abandon can be done without adverse consequence.
Fairness Floor: 3 Lefts Make A Right – May 29, 2015
Something wrong is always wrong (such as initiation of violence), but a certain action (e.g., violence) can be both wrong and not only right but righteous – almost a duty (albeit a voluntary one in that case).
An eye for an eye… is a ridiculous rule. It means it’s risk free to steal, since if you get caught, you’re okay once you’ve returned the goods. To make it at least half fair, an additional equal-sized good or monetary compensation must be made, in order to return the principle with which the initial action was taken, so to speak.
So, two eyes for an eye should be the floor for fairness.
Considering the unnecessary suffering resulting from the initiation of violence or theft, yet another unit of compensation seems reasonable: “If you impose your principle (of violence) upon me, I’ll impose it back doubly“, so first compensation, then the principle, then doubly so.
Once this ultimate fairness principle of “3 lefts make a right” is established, negotiations can commence, i.e. the victim should be free to either redeem 3 items per item taken or destroyed, or negotiate an alternative settlement that both perp and victim can agree upon – including, e.g., life-long enslavement.
If you are interested in a great work of libertarian sci-fi, that among many other things deals with the issues of anarchistic capitalism, I couldn’t recommend WĬTHÛR WĒ more. Try it. It’s 5 USD on Kindle, or free as a pdf here.
Remember when a stock was a share in a company’s profits? May 29, 2015
That was fun. Now it’s just a part of someone’s Ponzi scheme.
Some pretty informed traders reason thus: the rich always have an inside, getting access to the right IPOs, while the little guy has to buy at inflated prices in the secondary market.
However, with a decent pouch and clout, an above average investor can get in early (enough), then let his closest peers in on the idea, before trying to disperse the story more widely. Eventually, the goal is to unload the shares to the ignorant crowd – as close to the peak as possible.
Cash flow? Sustainability? Value drivers? Valuation?! What are you, 50?
By the way, what would you do if you held shares in a 3D (metal) printing company, that is down by more than half since its 12 month peak, and just now it’s biggest and most knowledgeable shareholder unloads its shares well below market price? Oh, did I mention Arcam yesterday decided to issue a new class of unlisted shares for its stock option programme?
Oh, I almost forgot, and just issued 10% new shares just in case they want to spend it on something.
On the other hand what is a valuation of 10x sales among friends?
If you don’t feel retarded enough, try 50 ironman in 50 days – May 28, 2015
When U think YOU’ve gone the distance, the Iron Cowboy, James Lawrence,will do 50 ironman runs on 50 consecutive days,http://t.co/JI1YGW1sUZ
— Sprezzaturian (@TureMasing) May 28, 2015
Diamonds – the frothiest bubble of them all? May 27, 2015
150 years ago, one would be forgiven for thinking diamonds were rare.
Then in 1870 an infinite source for wedding ring sized diamonds was found in South Africa.
At one point the typical prize for these common stones was 5 dollars a carat. Since then a very successful diamond cartel has made sure just enough diamonds are made available for weddings and industrial use.
The cartel has run into some troubles lately, but still more or less controls the diamond market to their satisfaction.
The dreaded overhang that could collapse prices by 99%
However, there is something called “the overhang“, consisting of the billions (1/2 bn ct, equal to 50 times the annual production) of inherently worthless inherited white stones, lying around in drawers or safe deposit boxes.
If, or should I say when, something triggers a realization of the locked up “value” in the overhang, there won’t be any floor for diamond prices. Until then, the diamond cartel hopes the tagline “diamonds are forever- and should never be resold” will keep the overhang from ever moved. However, in a deep enough economic downturn, the first few diamonds just might be pawned , and then some…
“There’s going to come a day when all those doctors, lawyers, and other fools who bought diamonds over the phone take them out of their strongboxes, or wherever, and try to sell them,” one dealer predicted last year.
Another gave a gloomy picture of what would happen if this accumulation of diamonds were suddenly sold by speculators. “Investment diamonds are bought for $30,000 a carat, not because any woman wants to wear them on her finger but because the investor believes they will be worth $50,000 a carat. He may borrow heavily to leverage his investment. When the price begins to decline, everyone will try to sell their diamonds at once.
In the end, of course, there will be no buyers for diamonds at $30,000 a carat or even $15,000. At this point, there will be a stampede to sell investment diamonds, and the newspapers will begin writing stories about the great diamond crash.
Investment diamonds constitute, of course, only a small fraction of the diamonds held by the public, but when women begin reading about a diamond crash, they will take their diamonds to retail jewelers to be appraised and find out that they are worth less than they paid for them.
At that point, people will realize that diamonds are not forever, and jewelers will be flooded with customers trying to sell, not buy, diamonds. That will be the end of the diamond business.” BUT a panic on the part of investors is not the only event that could end the diamond business. De Beers is at this writing losing control of several sources of diamonds that might flood the market at any time, deflating forever the price of diamonds.
Sure, diamonds are a bit pretty, and they can cut glass, but the true value (the cost of actually producing a new diamond) is closer to 100 dollars/ct than the current retail price of 30 000 USD/ct.
In 1979, for example, New York City police recovered stolen diamonds with an insured value of $50,000 which had been sold to a ‘fence’ for only $200.
Sell your diamonds now If you have a diamond at home you are not using, listen to this episode of the Freakonomics podcast, or read Jay Epstein’s history about the invention of Forever Diamonds here; then auction it off on the internet.
In March of 1980, for example, the benchmark value for such a diamond was $63,000; in September of 1981, it was only $23,000
Retard, retarder, full retard, China – May 26, 2015
So, the mother of all Ponzi economies and stock markets is up by 100% this year… no biggie.
What’s really “full China” these days is the 800+ times oversubscription of the online portion of Shandong Shihua Shenghua Group Co Ltd.
If you drink alcohol and work out, you will be stronger than he who only drinks – May 23, 2015
My first 14 hours today consisted of 3 hours of fast and hard alcohol consumption (between midnight and 3 a.m.), followed by a fish burger and fries, after failing to switch nightclubs.
At 4:30 a.m. I took my (very happy) dog for a walk, then some prophylactic self medication (the rehydration solution Resorb, vitamin C and aspirin) before going to bed at 5:30.
I got up after 4 hours of sleep and kickstarted the morning with another hangover fix (Resorb/C/aspirin) and took the dog for a second walk. Still drunk, I guess, but caffeine-fortified, I headed for the gym at a quarter to 1 p.m.
Like the retard I am, I went for a new squat personal best (155kg/341.5 lbs) but missed -just. Perhaps not wholly surprising, considering the circumstances. It was a good attempt too.
I rounded off with overhead presses, biceps curls, heavy abs crunches (+90kg / 198 lbs) and some mobility exercises. By then it was 2 p.m. and my first 14 hours of the day were up.
There are better ways to handle your drinking and your workouts, but I simply can hardly stop myself from going to the gym exactly every second day. Spelling it out like this makes my routine even more set in stone, since I don’t want to be caught with a lie. That’s the power of habits and cognitive dissonance.
In addition, I’ve found that the longer I wait the day after, the less likely it is that I’ll go to the gym at all. Once the lingering buzz morphs into a hangover, the game is over.
-50% overnight is the new normal – May 21, 2015
ETSY, Hanergy Solar, Goldin Properties and Goldin Financial all halved overnight. Stratasys and 3D took a little longer. And then there is bathroom retailer [sounds solid, right?] Joyou, that just fell 100% after a 3 1/2 year bull run of over 100%.
In the midst of a year with new all time highs every week, some stocks are crashing, stock exchanges are breaking down, there are millisecond flash crashes that next to nobody even notices.
Up until now the new normal was: Bad news, more money printing, stocks up. Good news, higher profits, stocks up. Valuations? Meh, nobody cares. Well that pattern works until it doesn’t, as we have seen many times before in history.
I just wonder when the -50% overnight theme is due for Europe and the U.S.
Always be prototyping – May 19, 2015
Humans are not creative, we are patterns that mirror other patterns, and quite poorly at that.
Don’t try to be “creative”, be a (distorting) mirror/looking glass. Musk and Jobs are not creative in the true sense; they are ‘just’ attuned to what combination of patterns strike a chord in humanity.
Don’t try to “create” and present finished thoughts, products… Nothing is ever finished anyway (not you and not your ideas or products), so start with a prototype as soon as possible, then adapt and improve.
Do the same in conversations, i.e., don’t assume you are a finished product.
Books are people too – May 19, 2015
Think of people like books (show a sincere interest, memorize their names and content, learn from them, don’t argue with them, try to understand, admit your errors) and books like people (let them be your mentors, teachers, companions).
Why the wealthy are not rich – May 19, 2015
The definition of being rich (or powerful) is being able to DO WHAT YOU WANT. Many of the super wealthy are NOT rich. Avoid whore village and go directly to knowing yourself and doing what you actually want.
Can an AI be truly creative? Can humans? – May 17, 2015
Intelligence is the faculty of perceiving and collecting information (“intel”). Okay, it also refers to the ability to “understand” the data, or at least turn it around and use it for survival purposes, but there actually is no qualitative difference.
Single cell organisms detect light and move toward it. Is that intelligent? Creative?
Computers (Watson 2014) read hundreds of thousands of oncology research papers and come up with 9 different kinases (of which 7 later proved to activate the desired p53 cancer curbing protein.
It’s definitely data collection intelligence and finding useful survival improvement patterns intelligence. But is it creative, intelligent? Well, no, not yet, not even close. However, it’s better/faster than the collected group of global oncology experts.
What about humans? Are we anything more than sensitive and complicated (bordering on chaotically complex) pattern recognition systems? Our senses collect data, detect patterns, and ‘move’ away or toward those patterns. We make music by mimicking natural sounds (the heart beat, e.g.), and more music by mimicking other artists.
I’m leaning toward the view that humans are not creative – not anymore than dead matter is creative. There is input… and the current output depends on how earlier inputs shaped the body and the brain of the observer (human, artist, scientist). Discovering the laws of nature isn’t creative – it’s just more or less blind creatures fumbling around, writing down the patterns that are already there.
A large and complex enough computer would be able to do the same, just faster and better: Watch, find patterns, explore and exploit those patterns. Using a model of many human brains, it could discern what patterns would please us – which natural laws we’d like to know about, what music would be agreeable and so on.
So, stop questioning whether an artificial intelligence can be truly creative and start asking if humans can be.
And you? You should understand that we all have (about) the same capacity for “creativity”, for detecting and combining patterns. It’s just a question of priming yourself with a lot of varying inputs and treating those inputs mindfully – truly integrating them.
Then you too will be able to “create” unexpected combinations of old and commonplace parts. Sure, there is no guarantee those creations or findings will be mass marketable or profitable, but that has more to do with being in tune with the unthinking masses than being creative or not.
On the topic of AI, “Ex machina” was much better then “Her”, not to mention the completely botched “Transcendence”. Unfortunately all these Singularity themed movies are nowhere near the standard I’d like to see.
How much alcohol should you drink? – May 16, 2015
Okay, sorry; that was just retarded. Here goes:
If alcohol retards your progress in life – don’t drink. If it doesn’t and you like the taste or effect – drink.
I had my first taste when I was 18. Before that, an old wager with my father made drinking too expensive – but I also realized sobriety gave me an unfair advantage in high school. Starting late was good for my grades, but less so for my social life.
After high school I had a seriously pent up thirst to quench. I also soon learned alcohol “cured” my light autism and made me outgoing, happy, fun and was responsible for many laughs – and lays. So I drank… first seldom but copiously, then often and much – not least on work related occasions.
One unit (a beer, a glass of wine, a drink or a shot) makes me tingle from anticipation. The second one may make me temporarily buzzed for real (if I’m in a serious and sober context). Two units per hour typically keep me going, keep me alert, appreciative and ready for whatever. Five-nine units between 6 p.m. and midnight make me mildly to moderately hungover but do not stop me from going to the gym the next day.
A really good night out (once a month on average these days) can take it to 15-20 units (approx three bottles of wine), and even if I sometimes do work out the day after, I get drowsy, nod off, a bit anxious and paranoid, more or less the entire day after (and evening). That’s when I binge watch bad TV series or catch up on stuff like the Godfather trilogy (April-May 2015), since I just can’t do anything else anyway.
In summary: don’t get angry or on an alcoholistic trajectory; don’t let alcohol impede your studies, work or other endeavors, but drink if it improves your (social) life. Don’t drink hard more than 10-20 times per year (5% of available days, which shouldn’t impact your testosterone levels more than 1-2% on average for the year – even less impact if drinking is separated from workouts) and keep a ceiling per occasion for number of units of alcohol around your body weight (in lbs) divided by ten (for me that’s 200/10=20 units maximum).
Nota Bene: I haven’t noticed any emergent aggression whatsoever from drinking. Further, the only tendency over time, I can discern, is that I drink less, and less often, the older I get – so no alcoholism warning flags for me. If you do get aggressive or tend to drink more and more, be wary – and make sure your net effect from drinking is positive.
Planned obsolescence – Voyager vs iPhone, May 15, 2015
Do you remember when products were built to last, lest consumers choose another?
That was when clothes were passed down and TV sets lasted for decades. That was when the Voyager was built (V1 was built in 1976-77, almost 40 years ago, and is currently 18 light hours away [20 bn km] – outside the Heliosphere) and it’s still functional. That was before the iPhone. That was fun.
Home: soil or soul? May 15, 2015
How do you define your home? Is it your collection of stuff, your house, your city or country. Or is it the essence of who you are – your soul? What if your house and everything it burns down? What if a solar eruption wipes out all your digital memories (photos and other documents)?
Save the world or savor it, May 14, 2015
If you are financially independent, and can choose freely what to do with your time, should you just enjoy the world, or should you try to do good? Savor or Save, as LinkedIn’s Reid says here. I mostly savor it, but I do some saving as well, such as:
this blog, adopting a dog, donating to dog shelters, supporting a school in Vietnam (English School of Mui Ne), donating to Wikipedia, ZeroHedge and Khan Academy, spending hours helping friends and their children study math, programming, English and statistics, supporting various crowd sourcing projects (Atlas Shrugged, Seasteading Institute, books such as Live And Let Die by Johan Norberg, an EU election campaign [Federley]) etc.
What does your save/savor balance look like?
Free pick pocket street hustler lesson, May 14, 2015
On the way home from the pub, two French guys asked about the way to the night club “Rose”, alternatively “Stureplan”. Smart and specific.
One guy talked to my friend, wing manning, while I explained the way to the other guy. He tried charming me by bringing up the Swedish soccer player Zlatan (yes, the same Zlatan I bought a Ferrari 360 convertible from), and I kind of fell for it; trying to be friendly back and, e.g., said “Paris Saint Germain” in my best school French.
The guy started mimicking foot tackling, dribbling or some other soccer moves, actually kicking my ankles pretty roughly while repeating “Zlatan, Zlatan, Zlatan”. I balanced keeping my distance and focus on my Hublot Big Bang Rose Gold wrist watch (approximately 40k USD) against being perceived as rude. At a certain point, however, I started getting annoyed with this moron and was about to start kicking him back a bit. Right that second, I realized that I for just a second, if even that long, had focused on my ankles more than my wrist (watch). I felt my left wrist with my right hand – the watch was gone.
I immediately, instinctively, tensed up, almost grew a couple of inches, hardened my look in a menacing and violent stare, and was, within fractions of a second, about to land my best blow right to his face. He was some 6″ shorter than I and probably weighed 50-60 lbs less, so I expected to make a lot of damage. I’ve done it before, albeit still never killed anyone.
He had probably just got the watch off my wrist, when he felt the energy building up and just as instinctively realized he was close to death; he held up the watch and said feebly “It’s just magic”. And the knuckle sandwich just hovered there – possibly saying something important about free will.
I contemplated beating him to a pulp, but chose to secure the watch and my credit cards and take a step back. When going over the story afterward, I am relieved he is still alive and I am a free man, not to mention still having my watch while getting to learn an important lesson (pickpockets are skilled).
How to make friends, May 12, 2015
I finally started on Dale Carnegie’s book about socializing. Many have tried to get me to read it, probably even more than the crowd pushing me to watch The Godfather trilogy.
After reading the foreword/intro, I realized that Carnegie did it best himself. If anybody had just sent me a copy of the page where he describes how the book came about (searching but not finding any such book, then researching hundreds of books and articles related to the topic and finally making a recurring and evolving speech that eventually turned into a manual for spouses, parents, salesmen, corporate and political leaders), I would have read this book in an instant.
Judging from the poor pitching, it seems the advocates never took Carnegie’s advice on making friends and influencing people to heart…
By the way: Do you remember when Dale Carnagey changed his name to “Carnegie” since super rich, unrelated, steel king Andrew Carnegie was a widely recognized name? That was fun. Smart marketing.
House purchase, May 12, 2015
Do you remember when people understood that buying a house equals consumption; a cost, as well as uncertainty about the capital put on the line? It was worth it to not have to rely on a landlord and possibly simply felt good too.
Investing in real estate means buying property and renting it for a profit. Buying a house to live in it is a risk and a cost – not an investment. Swedes still need to learn that lesson. Stockholm’s apartment prices are up by some 100% since US house prices commenced their 40% drop.
As Warren Buffett would say: When in doubt stay out (if you don’t understand IT companies or house purchase dynamics, don’t do it)
AI, apes, Edward Witten, Einstein and the Singularity, May 10, 2015
The difference between an ape wielding a broken off branch and humans sending nuclear missiles half way around the earth or themselves to the moon, is a minuscule genetic difference and a quarter million generations of “culture”. Brainwise humans have 16m important and energy hungry brain units that apes only have 9m of. Cooked food and agriculture made the whole difference.
Imagine emulating a worm brain in a digital substrate, then a mouse, a dog, an ape, the village idiot, and then almost instantly a genius (besting Einstein and Witten), followed by a super genius and right after something incomprehensible and then progressing orders of magnitude further from there…
AIs are not constrained by speed (calculation and transfer) or size (vs. the cranium). Artificial neurons can be a million times faster, communicate at the speed of light instead of the speed limit of a city street and be made arbitrarily big. We will be as outmatched as an olympic sprinter vs. a moon rocket.
Silicon Valley on HBO, May 10, 2015
If you, like I was, were at all involved in finance or technology in the year 2000 bubble, or the last few years for that matter, this is the TV series for you. I keep laughing out loud at the somewhat twisted but spot on caricature of the high tech startup, VC and IPO ecosystem that make up Silicon Valley.
Sunglasses were never “cool”, May 6, 2015
Once upon a time a rock star hid his bloodshot eyes behind a pair of sunglasses during an indoors interview. The antic was interpreted as if he couldn’t care less – kind of the opposite of how you would behave during a job interview. He was considered carefree, laid back and cool.
Ever since, wearing sunglasses and headgear indoors have been considered “cool”, despite being carried out in the opposite frame of mind, i.e. anxiously
trying to impress others.
3D printing career thoughts, May 4, 2015
Additive manufacturing seems extremely promising for tinkerers, designers, DIYs…, well for anyone with a brain really. Printers are poor and expensive now, but if you are uncertain of your future, why not explore the 3D community online, learn the basic ropes so to speak, before investing? Try Udemy, e.g.
If you want to go hard core from the beginning, read up on 3D CAD/CAM, haptics and other related stuff. 3D additive manufacturing will be big the coming 10-20 years, but you need to know how to use the tools (in time, including advanced AI helpers).
Insect order, April 29, 2015
Nathan at Aspire informed me that as soon as the crickets are harvested he’ll get back to me regarding buying insect food from them. Yes, it seems they’ll deliver to Sweden!
At the end of at least one Spectrum, April 28, 2015
Mathematics and physical danger were my two friends in my single digit years. When I turned ten, computers, algebra/coding and English were added to my list of interests. Yes, I was slightly autistic. albeit not clinically diagnosed.
My first computer was a ZX Spectrum and I wore it out completely, between 1982-1988, replacing several keyboards, the memory ICs, as well as built my own joystick from tin foil, a hockey puck, a golf ball and an aluminum tube… and lots and lots of wire, tape and glue.
I actually replaced the entire thing at one point. I owe most of my career and success to my Spectrum years. I may be retarded, but I know my numbers and logic.
Power poses with the dog, April 28, 2015
Since I’m out walking Ronja (a Queen Shepherd) several hours a day anyway, I’ve started “walking tall”, practicing feeling mighty and powerful through my posture and walk. Who knows, if certain TED talkers and bloggers (yes Mike and Victor, I mean you) are right, it will increase my testosterone and confidence. And if not, I’ll simply improve my posture.
Julia Louis Dreyfus makes pure magic as “Veep” Selina Meyer in the HBO series (4th season now). One of the richest heiresses on the planet simply decided to become the funniest too.
There are people who drink coffee every day! If at least they could wait until an hour after waking (according to findings in chronopharmacology) and not drink later than 1 pm.
Sarah Bernard a.k.a. Annie Anal was not Michael Faraday’s wife. Michael’s wife spelled her name with an “a”; Sarah Barnard.
Michael who was born in 1791 had a tough childhood. His father was a blacksmith apprentice, but Michael eventually escaped that fate to become a bookbinder’s apprentice. Reading the books he bound, woke an interest in science, and seven years later he sent his 300 pages of notes from the chemist Humphry Davy’s lectures made into a book to Mr. Davy and eventually became his assistant.
Despite a lack of education and only rudimentary mathematical knowledge (only the most basic of algebra), Faraday became on of the most important scientists of all time – despite said Davy preventing Faraday from conducting research after Michael beat Davy to creating the first electrical motor. After Davy’s death Faraday resumed his work and invented the electrical generator.
Faraday also found connections between light, magnetism and electricity and postulated the earth’s magnetic field, but couldn’t prove anything mathematically “Meh, Faraday and his crazy abstract field lines”) or use his discovery of electromagnetic waves practically, until the scientific giant James Clerk Maxwell and Heinrich Hertz did it for him. Maxwell even called the mathematically inept Faraday “a mathematician of a very high order” thanks to his uses of lines of force.
Einstein later built on Faraday and Maxwell, to produce his theory of relativity. Einstein actually kept a picture of Faraday and Maxwell, as well as Newton of course, on his study wall.
All but forgotten by history, Faraday was the first to discover metallic nanoparticles as well as the particularities associated with quantum size and thus the birth of nanoscience (well before Dick Feynman’s seminal nanotech speech in 1959). Watch Cosmos, episode 10, for a dramatisation of Faraday’s life. It’s 30 minutes well spent. “Proper flogging” for speech impediment at 5:40 in.
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