Showing posts from 2010

When logic says one thing but it just doesn't feel right - Carbon credits

Had a reason recently to once again review all "Things Emission" (carbon emissions) and because it was as uncomfortable as always, I tried to figure out why is it that we are unable to ever really feel that we "understand" the whole issue of carbon credits, cap and trade and all that.

My conclusion is that the fundamental difficulty is that our mind and our sense of what is right (morality of sorts) are pulling in opposite directions.

While it is not difficult to understand and accept the logic that the world collectively will reduce overall emissions the most if it reduces the emissions of the biggest polluters first, the inescapable fact is that this just feels "wrong".

It feels as wrong as it would feel to pay potential robbers to not rob us or to pay potential rapists not to rape. Some of the arguments are similar such as that the potential robbers are just poor and if they were less poor they would not be motivated to rob.

Indonesia, China or Russia wo…

Life is like a Giant Slalom (and so is investing)

and if I can pull off that analogy, I am better than I know.

Well, life is similar to a Giant Slalom (GS) in the way that GS is different than slalom or downhill as both slalom and downhill are really not "thinking man's" ski events. GS is a thinking man's ski race.

In slalom, there is no time to think. There is only instinctive reaction and the rush and getting to the finish. Downhill is all about overcoming fear and then getting to the bottom of the hill in one piece.

GS is different because to ski GS well, one has to think, anticipate and act. You have to know the course well, anticipate and visualize all the turns and most importantly, execute your plans for each turn timely and with precision . It is not just instinctive, it is one step more difficult than that - plan the action and then do it.

It is essential in GS to start turning before reaching the turn itself. One needs to be almost done with the turn by the point one reaches the gate flag and then accelerate o…

Something worth fighting for

Reading "The Unforgiving Minute", which is worth reading just for the Kipling poem alone:

"If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son."

I realized that in all of my life I've never had anything literally worth fighting for (and it is really "fighting for" and not "dying for" that should be used).

A country or any other group to belong to that one believes in so much as to be willing to fight for it (and if it so happens, die in the process).

From my vantage point then it looks like a great privilege to have that.

Meeting people is like walking up to a new mirror

Despite what we may think about "knowing ourselves" and knowing who we are, we can only understand who we really are from the reflection of ourselves in other people's eyes. The only way that the Universe perceives us is through observation of others and in that way it's a bit of a Schroedinger's cat going on. The observed is influenced by the observers and it has no other state than the observed one.

To put it differently, if there was nobody around us, would we really know who we are?

So every new person we meet is like a new mirror that we face and it shows us an image of ourselves that is always to some extent different than any other mirror. Some are more precise reflection of the actual molecules that we are really composed of while others are more "kind" to our imperfections, physical and otherwise. And of course, just for fun, there are the hall of mirrors distorting mirrors that show us grotesquely different than reality and those are just that -…

There is something seriously wrong with camels.. (and salmon)

For some time now I have been wondering how certain species managed to not become extinct when some of their "features" or ways of existing are so clearly sub-optimal. Earth in general is not a very hospitable place with something on the order of 95% of all species that ever existed being extinct by now. So how is it then that camels or salmon have managed to avoid that fate given some obvious, what should be fatal, flaws?

Take camels for example. Yes, I know about their humps storing water or whatever that allows them to go a long time without food and water and all that. Seems like a useful evolutionary adaptation but you don't have to be a mechanical engineer to take one look at a camel walking or God forbid running to see that there is clearly something wrong with that basic design.

If you tried to on purpose come up with a "design" of a quadruped animal that is maximally inefficient you would just about draw a camel. There is nothing graceful,fast or effor…

"Sex Addiction" - give me a break ...

I am getting a little bit tired of the whole "sex addiction" racket out there.

Sex is not an addiction any more than skating backwards is. It may feel good to have air blowing up your behind (or to have sex) but that does not an addiction make. And if you feel you are addicted, just stop skating backwards!

The problem is that calling it an "addiction" trivializes addictions which are real and substantive. The operative word being "substantive" meaning there is a substance involved (although this may not be the correct usage of the term substantive).

With real addictions be it alcohol, drugs, nicotine or prescription drugs, there is always a substance at work which makes us feel a certain way ("good" or at least "better" than without it). From that emerges an addiction to that "feel good effect" and in that sense, yes, food can be an addiction also but sex cannot.

Of course sex feels good, it is supposed to and without it feeling …

The thing about kids growing up is ...

I love that subject line because just about anything can follow. You may see it a lot.

In this particular moment, the thing about it is that once they get to be 17 or 18 all of the little annoying things that your spouse used to say or do for years (or not do), they notice and call them out on.

So whenever there is lack of logic in how one parks the car or talks about events of the day, they jump all over their parents and with you and your spouse it means - well, I no longer have to do it!

It is bliss, I can just sit back and watch them send zingers of all kinds on all sorts of issues and I can relax and grin (but not so that it can be seen, more of a "grin on the inside"). Really wonderful so you should look forward to when they are about 18 (and then, of course, just when you are enjoying it, they leave the house!).

They do the same (calling out any absence of logic or any BS) with stuff on TV, in the news and even in gatherings and family events. Almost like having your own…

"Risk aversion" VS "Loss aversion"

Reading "Superfreakonomics" and end of year market summaries it struck me how the term "risk aversion" is really so inferior to what we really mean - "loss aversion". We are not afraid of risk, we are afraid of losing and this is repeatedly confirmed by studies of behavioral economics and other sciences as well as by simple observation.
So we should just stop using "risk aversion".
The interesting part of all these studies is where they cross the divide into how we are motivated to inflict pain (or economic loss) onto others even when that is not in our own best economic interest.
Got to look more into that and understand my own loss aversion better. (Maybe inflicting pain on others as a motivation is a useful "antidote"?) There is a New Year's resolution No.1 !