Tuesday, September 08, 2015

I'm watching the great move `inside job', about the US financial crisis.
Well by 50th minute it's a bit repetitive so not sure about the great part.
So many Jewish names in the movie. Is it anti-semitic? Or is this just what you get by an unbiased sample of leading figures in the financial industry?

There's an interesting analogy between finance and mathematics about
the value of abstraction.

We know that money is an abstract thing, that is made
very real by the collective human mind.
But it turns out the rapid growth of financial industries,
is by making even more abstract things real.

For example - derivatives.

Rather than the value of a currency\company -
the change over time of a currency\company.

This becomes a real thing you can buy on the stock market.

Maybe the more abstract a thing you can make the general public think
of as a real, tangible thing - the more you can leverage and control.
Because there's a bigger gap between what people perceive as how the thing
is and works, to what it actually is.
This gap, already exists when thinking of a bunch of atoms, as cells,
and than of a bunch of cells as a human.

But how much larger is this gap when looking at something like a financial derivative.

`They found - the part of the brain stimulated when these men make money,
is the same part that Cocaine stimulates'

The investment companies would, at the same time,
sell their clients mortgage packages, buy `insurance' derivatives that would go up if these packages
lost their value, and buy insurance in case the company selling the insurance derivatives - AIG - would go bankrupt

It seems everything is part of the system - you see a congress board questioning the bankers,
accusing them on TV `You knew you were selling your clients crap!' , and you see the CEO of a big company like Goldman Sachs mumbling an answer like an embarrassed child being scolded - and that makes you feel `OK, it is being taken care of. The power is indeed with the people' so I can continue just living my life and not worry about it.

They say people's interests as they grow from infants to teenagers to adults to being old
are peeing-> food -> sex -> money -> peeing.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Scott Adams Connect2014 Keynote

Just bought Scott Adams' book: How to fail at almost everything and still win big.

He talks a lot about systems vs goals.

He defines a system to be something you do regularly that increases your odds of success.

He says focus on doing things that no matter what the short-term outcome of a specific action -

Did I get the job? Did I get the date? Did I prove the Theorem?

Put you in a situation where you have better odds of success in the future -

though you may not be able to predict where this success will ultimately manifest,

especially in today's increasingly complex, and getting more complicated at an increasing rate, world.

One nice example he gives: A friend who would go to interviews for jobs he didn't want just
to get better at selling himself. At the end of one of these interviews the interviewer said `well you're totally overqualified for this job; but the department manager just left and you'd be perfect for that job.'

A psychological positive side-effect of being system vs. goal oriented,
is that each time you follow the system - by going to the gym, going to the job interview,
you feel good: `I'm doing something right now that's making a long run positive impact on my life'
Whereas, with the specific goal in mind, you are almost constantly in `pre-success failure' -
as except for that small interval of time where, in the best-case scenario, you've achieved your goal
and are still enjoying the glow of victory before moving on to the next goal, you're feeling like you are lacking something.

This reminds me indirectly of how in Buddhism they talk about `The Dhamma that is good in the beginning, good in the middle and good in the end'.
That is, the true spiritual path should give fruit every step of the way, it should not be total misery
except when reaching Nirvana.

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Hi! I am a computer science postdoc. For some reason google is not finding my new homepage so I added a link from this profile