Revenge on the Nerds III: Covid-19

I really don’t know that this is…

The original:

The collapse of Long-Term Capital Management in the 1998.

Plot summary: Geeks finally use their brains and math to beat the market, but it blows up in the face, nearly taking a good portion of the banking system with it.

Taxpayers save the day.

Subtitle: Beware of geeks bearing models.


2008 Financial Crisis: Beware of Geeks Bearing Models II

Plot Pitch: Long-Term Capital Management was like the Death Star. This movie needs to be bigger! The latest trilogy of Star Wars, the evil empire harnessed the power of a star. We will do something like that.

Plot Summary: Ignoring the lessons of Long-Term Capital Management, the masses again put their trust in the nerds. After all, they have discovered with their brains and math ways to hide the risk of making home loans to cats and dogs.

Let’s bury the whole economy. And, yet again, taxpayers to the rescue.

Second sequel:

2020 Covid-19 Pandemic: The Perfect Storm

The pitch: It’s 12-years later. The masses have mysteriously forgotten the damage caused by the previous generation of nerds who could not, in fact, make dogs and cats pay on their loans, and again, put their trust in them. After all, Stitch Fix’s algorithm now dresses them to look almost cool. If math can make make nerds look cool, then of course it can predict pandemics.

Meanwhile, the media has become so bad at words and math that what they report is quite often something from an alternate universe.

And, the third element of the perfect storm: reasoning has been weakened through a generation of PC culture, which evolved into cancel culture, where the only acceptable approach to disagreement is inspired by Orwell.

Mix those three elements and watch the damage caused be far greater than any one element could have done. It’ll hit the hospitals, the economy and basic human rights all at once!

Cue the heroes, yes taxpayers.

Is there a chance for a third sequel in another 9-10 years? Stay tuned. The writers are still working on the ending for this one.

It’s worth mentioning that a third sequel would be timed just about right to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the prequel to all this: The Great Depression: The Nerds Still Aren’t Sure What Caused This, So Quit Trusting Them!


Haiti II

Feeling lucky to be alive.

Amazing the power of mother nature.  She allows us to cling to this little sliver of warm atmosphere bound to a tiny dust ball hurling through the near absolute cold of space at unimaginable speeds.

I will be looking for ways to help.


As I get older, I find Thanksgiving to be my favorite holiday.  It seems to be the one time of year everyone puts family ahead of their other pursuits.  That Thursday doesn’t feel like a Thursday.  It has a different feel.  It’s its own day.

But, that’s not the only reason I like it so much.  I like it because it gives us a chance to pause and consider what we’re thankful for.  It’s easy to forget those things the rest of the year.

I’m thankful for so much.  I’ll start a list.  I’m sure I’ll forget a few things, but I can always add to it later or next year.  I’m thankful for:

  • My family and friends
  • The universe
  • The Sun that gives us energy and the Earth that has so many things to make life hospitable for us.
    • The moon that keeps our spin stable.
    • Earth’s magnetic field that shields us from dangerous radiation.
    • Gravity, for keeping us planted on Earth and the relatively thin layer of atmosphere around Earth.
    • The atmosphere for trapping enough of Sun’s energy to warm us up from the near absolute zero temperature of space.
    • All the things that put the basic essentials for breathing and growing plant life into the atmosphere.
    • Water
    • I could keep going here
  • Life and making it
  • Being born in a time and place where human freedom is a very high priority
  • Being born into a loving family
  • Having been raised to think for myself and be skeptical of conventional wisdom
  • Having my faculties to enjoy what’s around me
  • Having met the people I have in my life so far
  • Learning the lessons I’ve learned
  • Being helped by the people who’ve helped me
  • Having been able to help others
  • Having coordinated my efforts for the betterment of society anonymously through the free market
  • The things I enjoy doing
  • Having been well cared for in times of need
  • The men and women who have died for my freedom
  • Overall, being able to lead a more comfortable life than generations before
  • Having possibly contributed to those to come to do even better
  • The four known forces in the universe
  • LOST
  • Libraries
  • Authors
  • Ice cream
  • Coffee
  • Beer
  • Wine
  • Specific kinds of wine
  • Computers and all of its devices
  • DVRs, digital cameras, wireless networks
  • Starbucks and Starbucks founder who never felt it necessary to treat others disrespectfully
  • Bicycles
  • Roads
  • Vehicles
  • Crunchy onion rings
  • The beauty of nature – the sights, sounds and smells
  • Sunsets and sunrises
  • Beaches
  • Planes
  • Doctors and hospitals
  • Parks
  • Monopoly
  • Freeze tag

I’ll stop there for now.

Why I Am Conservative

Despite what many liberals believe, it’s not because I have a cold-heart, or that I’m selfish or greedy.

  1. Freedom is the main reason.   I believe people should have the right to make their own decisions as long as they don’t put others in harm’s way, infringe on others’ freedom or coerce others.
  2. Better results The other reason I’m conservative is that freedom happens to have a nice side effect.  It brings better results for us all.  That is, it gives us the best chance at improving our standard of living and giving us many options to choose from.

Whenever I disagree with someone with more liberal leanings, it’s usually on one or both of these two that we disagree.

State Your Position in 10 Seconds

Twice over the past week I saw local TV news reporting from outside a health care town hall forum.  I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that they grab random people from both sides of the issue, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they are a bit more selective.

So far, those chose to voice why they oppose government health care have not impressed me.  But seeing the coverage made me think, if asked to explain why I oppose government health care in 10 seconds, what would I say?  I think that would be something good to be ready to answer because you never know when you might get 10 seconds and trying to come up with the 10 second version of your view on the fly will probably be as disastrous as what I’ve seen so far.

So, here are a few options I’ve started to think about.

10 Second Version

I want the best health care to be available to everyone.   While well-intentioned, government health care isn’t the best answer.  The problems in today’s health care industry are caused by government.  Getting the government more involved will make it worse.

50 Second Version

[Show my iPod.]  It would take a wall in a room of my house to store as much music as this thing holds and makes available with a few finger taps.  I can also use it to check the weather, show photos of my latest vacation, plot a route to my next destination, e-mail friends, update facebook, download more music, videos, podcasts or books at Starbucks, or pass the time playing Tic-Tac-Toe and Checkers with my son.  I got all this for less than $300.  There are other versions of this product that can do pretty many of these things for around $100.

The government was not involved in making this product. Fifteen years ago while alphabetizing my CD collection in wood crates to make it easier for me to find the music I want to listen to, I would never imagine the iPod.  It does all this for me and I can carry it in my pocket.

I can imagine if the government were involved in its development, I would probably still be muddling through those wood crates.  Not bad by any means, but not a small percentage as good as this.

Excellent Read from Star Parker

I highly recommending reading Star Parker’s latest column, ‘Beer summit’ should have been about freedom.

Key paragraphs:

One would be hard pressed to find a black American who is not concerned, often from personal experience, about being personally violated as result of arbitrarily exercised authority and power.

Read the Declaration of Independence. Protecting individual liberty against such arbitrary power was and is what it’s all about.

So why do blacks, who have more personal experience than any other group in this nation with abuses of such power, consistently support expanding it?

Why is Professor Gates freaked out by the policeman standing on his porch but not by the intrusive expansion of government into his life and the lives of every other American, white or black?

The purpose of the press conference where Obama was asked about the incident in Cambridge was about his answering questions regarding the massive government takeover of private American lives he is engineering with his health care proposal. A proposal where government will dictate how we get our health care, what health care we will get, and putting life and death in the hands of bureaucrats.

The Backseat CEO

I realized I didn’t want to be engineer while earning my engineering degree.  My classmates told stories of how they took apart toasters, clock radios and car engines as kids because they wanted to figure out how those worked. 

I didn’t. 

I liked to take apart something else: businesses and organizations.  I was fascinated by what lied under the hood of businesses.  What makes them tick?  How do they make money?  How do they spend money?  Who makes the decisions?  What separates big businesses and organizations from the small ones?  Why are some businesses successful and some aren’t?

I went on to earn an MBA and changed my career to business.  It struck me when I earned my MBA that I didn’t really know much.  I knew about things like financial statements, different types of capital and leadership types, but they were all floating around in a sea of randomness.  I didn’t know the important, if any of it, from the noise.  But, I continued breaking businesses apart to find out what made them work.

As I learned about all types of businesses and organizations I realized not many people know the true answers to business success.  If they did, the success rate of business would be much higher, no?  Maybe not.  Maybe so.

I don’t know either.  But, I have some thoughts based on my education, experience and observations. 

In my experience I’ve been lucky enough to get to know and work with small business owners, entreprenuers, business executives, management at all levels of the organization, business consultant graduates from the finest business schools in the country, former military leaders and people who have just knocked around in life.  They don’t know either.  I’ve learned from them and, over the years, have come to advise some of them with good results.

I started this blog to capture the thoughts and observations I’ve made over the years and capture more as I make them. 

My hope is this might reach others to help them.  Some people get their kicks from the hum of a well maintained and adjusted car engine. 

I get my kicks from the hum of a well run business or organization.

McCaskill Changes Her Tune Quickly

On Tuesday Senator Claire McCaskill said:

The White House has failed to follow the proper procedure in notifying Congress as to the removal of the Inspector General for the Corporation for National and Community Service.  The legislation which was passed last year requires that the president give a reason for the removal. ‘Loss of confidence’ is not a sufficient reason.  I’m hopeful the White House will provide a more substantive rationale, in writing, as quickly as possible.

Yesterday she said:

Last night, in response to my request for adequate information on the firing of Inspector General for the Corporation for National and Community Service Gerald Walpin, the White House submitted a letter to Senators Lieberman and Collins that now puts the White House in full compliance with the notice requirement in the law.  The next step for Congress is to use the 30 days provided by the notice to seek further information and undertake any further review that might be necessary. The reasons given in the most recent White House letter are substantial and the decision to remove Walpin appears well founded.

I’d be interested to know the reasons.

Palin v Letterman Double Standard

I’ll give Letterman the benefit of the doubt that he made a dumb error.  I could be wrong.  Either way, he should give a straight-up apology – no excuses.

That being said, I could also be wrong about this too, but I don’t think the media would work too hard to get the facts straight if Palin said something stupid.

Bill Maher

I heard Bill Maher on the radio on the way home from work plugging his upcoming show in the are.  Funny stuff.  The guy takes himself way too seriously.  Apparently he has all the answers.  We should just ask him.

According to Maher, people who haven’t bought into the dogma of global warming, hook, line and sinker, aren’t sitting at the adult table.   Unless Republicans want to change to be more like Democrats, they’re just plain stupid or the crazies that listen to Glenn Beck.

I’m sure it sells tickets to his comedy act.  His use of third grade and Third Reich tactics to avoid using reason, logic and evidence  is certainly laughable.