Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Unequaled Terror of "The Exorcist"

No issues here due to the storm. Seems New York/New Jersey got the worst of it. Aside from a messy yard and a little water in the basement, things went ok here in Massachusetts.

Fellow blogger Budd at Scifi Media had organized a blog hop a while back for Halloween. The topic is the scariest book, film, or experience one has ever seen or had. Sounded interesting and seeing that there is really only one film to ever scare me, it was an easy pick as well. Here you go.

The Unequaled Terror of "The Exorcist"
The 1973 horror film "The Exorcist" is the only film to truly scare me. I think there are two levels of the horror with this film; the obvious possession of Regan and to me the true driver of the story, the devil's retribution on the priest Lankester Merrin. As a young kid seeing this film the first level was enough to freak me out. Later as an adult the second angle made things even worse.

Right off the bat, the musical score for "The Exorcist" conveys a sense of dread and foreboding. Capped by the masterful piano piece "Tubular Bells" by Mike Oldfield stands alone in eerie music lore:
Great piece.

If one is a fan of the literary device foreshadowing, the opening of the film in the Iraq desert sets the tone. On a dig Father Merrin is confronted with relic finds related to the demon Pazuzu. The king of demons is silhouetted against Merrin and the tension between the two forces is palpable:

From there the story revolves around the character Regan MacNeil and her Mother. We see a young woman whose mother is a famous actress in a new city. She is saddened by her Father's estrangement from her and her Mother, but overall there is nothing out of the ordinary about her.

Slowly changes build in Regan's behavior. At first they seem like ordinary young teen changes, then escalate into something more sinister. I need not recap all the scenes; you have seen them and know how disturbing they are.

As Father Damien Karras enters the film things really go to another level. Karras is a trained psychologist and a man of faith that is facing some inner issues with his belief. Chris MacNeil seeks him out after exhaustive (but inconclusive) physical tests fail to diagnose Regan's malady. 

During the course of two meetings between Regan and Karras the demon presents a case with enough evidence to meet the criteria for exorcism (speaking in foreign tongue, telekinesis, rejection of religious objects) yet allows enough doubt to remain in the mind of Karras that it is absolutely genuine. Of course that is the plan. From one of their meetings comes this terrifying dialogue:
"What an excellent day for an exorcism."
"You would like that?"
"But wouldn't that drive you out of Regan?"
"It would bring us together."
"You and Regan?"
"You and us". 
Video clip can be seen here.

In a muddled recording Karras made of the demon it is found that it is English backwards. And now the movie enters in to the final phase as the demon speaks out Merrin's name.

And I believe it is here that the true terror of the film reaches a level no other film has ever come close to approaching.

Father Merrin is selected by the Church (or by the demon?) to perform the exorcism. The iconic picture as Merrin arrives at the house is timeless:

As Lankester enters the home the demon bellows "MMMMEEERRRRIIINNNNN!!!!" shaking the house. Called out by name from a being from the other side. Chilling cannot describe it.

The brutal exorcism follows and it has to be seen to be appreciated, words cannot do it. The demon gives a glimpse of it's true power to the priests as best shown by this picture:

Using psychological attacks and personal pain of the passing of Karras' mother, the demon succeeds in getting Merrin alone as he dismisses Karras.

And it is here that the terror knows know bounds.

A once defeated demon exacts revenge and retribution on Father Merrin as he suffers a fatal heart attack. Pazuzu sits and watches as Merrin's spirit must have left his body. Waiting years, waiting for the priest to become old and weak, the demon laughs at it's victory.

There is no end to the demons desire for Merrin's fall. Regans life. Chris MacNeil's sanity. Father Karras and his wounded faith and fragile soul. It's all a means to an end. This is darkness.

Courageously Father Karras is able to turn the tide by taking in the demon and killing himself. By asserting his will against the demon, light has a small victory with the return of Regan to her body. But at such costs.

So yes, "The Exorcist" is the most scary thing I have ever seen and I imagine it always will be!

Have a good night.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Flashback to "Berserker"

Just a quick note.....

Flaskback to "Berserker"
I feel like I am about to channel one Kid Dynamite with this one. I LEARNED IT BY WATCHING YOU!

I saw this post over at Geekologie yesterday and it was making me think of something else big time. Here is the video in question, where a guy (German/Russian?) jumps onto a frozen pool and the ice does not break:

Now this would be funny as all get by itself, by the shout out the guy gives at the 0:19 second mark was the apex of hilarity before the fall. Insta-classic.

Of course, this point me in mind of another clip.

I submit to you the "Berserker" scene (0:30 second mark on) from the film "Clerks" (WARNING: Bad language):


Have a good night.

Monday, October 15, 2012

1921 Photo of Great Scientists Double Take!

I came across something today that grabbed my attention so I thought I would put a quick post up. Also, if you are over 5'11'', can turn your head around, and can run the 40 yard dash in less than 30 seconds please contact the New England Patriots this week for a possible job in the defensive secondary. Thanks, tell your friends!

1921 Photo of Great Scientists Double Take!
In news I am sure will shock you, I was looking over some Wikipedia articles today and I cam across an old photograph from 1921 of a large group of famous scientists. I have to admit, I thought the picture had been photo shopped or something due to the gentleman in the front center of the picture (click for larger view or use this link):
From the description:
From left to right are: three unidentified men, David Sarnoff, Thomas J. Hayden, Ernst Julius Berg, S. Benedict, Albert Einstein, Nikola Tesla, Charles Proteus Steinmetz, A.N. Goldsmith, A. Malsin, Irving Langmuir, Albert W. Hull, E.B. Pillsbury, Saul Dushman, Richard Howland Ranger, George Ashley Campbell and two unidentified men.

The odd looking fellow in the front was Charles Proteus Steinmetz, who had a long and distinguished physics career.

I don't know, but this picture just grabbed me.

Have a good night.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Wikipedia Finds

Hey all!

Hope all is well with who ever still stops by. Things have been busy for me as usual. Been making some real progress.

I have been sick as a dog for almost 2 weeks but finally am coming out of it. Probably my body rejecting the very thought of colder weather. Leaves have changed and it will be a wintry feel this Saturday in the morning with a frost. Joy.

I do have a Caribbean vacation planned for November so maybe that will make things easier. A New England Patriots running game certainly helps as well! (Don't mention the Saints!)

Wikipedia Finds
I just like to learn and know stuff. It's a habit. Since tuning out markets and finance and focusing on science hard core, I find my mind just wants more and more of things of interest. Of course this feeds my Wikipedia/Damn Interesting reading habit.

Some cool finds of the last few weeks if you are interested:

The Taman Shud Case
High drama on this one! Check it out:
Considered "one of Australia's most profound mysteries",the case has been the subject of intense speculation over the years regarding the identity of the victim, the events leading up to his death and the cause of death. Public interest in the case remains significant due to a number of factors: the death occurring at a time of heightened tensions during the Cold War, the use of an undetectable poison, lack of identification, the possibility of unrequited love and the involvement of a secret code in a very rare book.
Cretaceous–Paleogene Boundary 
Formerly the K-T boundary, evidence that an impact event probably killed off the dinosaurs may well be found in an iridium layer across the globe.

Smeaton's Tower
The builder of the third lighthouse at Eddystone pioneered the use of concrete and changed lighthouse design forever. Great Damn Interesting article is here as well.

Come on, you want to learn about Osmium don't you?

The Story of Achilles
Great Wiki entry on a literary historical figure.

Have a good night.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday Thought

Hello all! I am still alive and very well. Work is going great and about my only complaints are the Patriots and the beginning of Fall (which leads to the evil winter). Hope you are all well. Saw a great piece today and it inspired some thoughts.

Deflationary Forces of Automation/Robotics vs. Never Ending Fed Printing
"Mish" Shedlock had a post up today that I could relate to. Regular readers will know the topic well:
Can the Fed Fight Droids and Win? Apple's SIRI, Driverless Trucks, What's Next? Riveting Video: Are Droids Taking Our Jobs?

As always Mish does a great job. A snippet:
The Fed cannot defeat droids. Unfortunately, the Fed does not understand it is exacerbating the problem. Sadly, the Fed does not even understand the nature of the forces it is fighting.

Now because I have worked in an ultra competitive industry (biotech/pharma) I know the move towards automation is happening. It is accelerating. It is something that WILL happen, not may.

But let's back off a minute and say it MAY happen. 

The US Fed is ready, willing, and able for the moment to spend maybe upwards of 2 Trillion dollars to lower the unemployment rate by 2-3% over the next.......well, we will see I guess. Never got a real number from them. To do this and really believe it the Fed must:
1.) Think the lack of jobs is still due to demand side issues, even though spending has not dropped among consumers and rejects the structural idea of job losses going forward
2.) Is not really concerned with jobs as their primary motivation for unlimited QE

For a perspective, consider:
Two Trillion dollars is 2,000,000,000,000 which would create for 1 year 40,000,000 (Forty Million) $50k a year jobs or 4 million of them for a decade time span!

Mind boggling.

Ben Bernanke is willing to spend that kind of money in the face of something he likely cannot control and only influence on the margin.

Think about it.

Have a good night.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Dole Air Race and DNA Data Storage

It's been another crazy busy week! Summer is running away from me this year. Hope all is well with all of you.

Came across a couple of extra cool things today, so I thought I would pass them along.

DNA as Mass Data Storage?
I have worked extensively with about every DNA manipulation technique there is over the past 14 years. I never even thought about this one! Via iO9:
Soon You'll Be Backing up Your Hard Drive Using DNA
A snippet:
At theoretical maximum, one gram of single stranded genetic code can encode 455 exabytes of information. That's almost half a billion terabytes, or 4.9 * 1011 GB. (As a point of reference, the latest iPad tops out at 64 GB of storage space.) DNA strands also likes to fold over on top of themselves, meaning that, unlike most other digital storage media, data needn't be restricted to two dimensions; and being able to store data in three-space translates to more free-space.
There are some drawbacks of course and the article clearly covers them (no random access, not re-write able) but as a storage solution it's mind boggling. Take a stroll on over and check it out.

The Dole Air Race 
I always start my day looking at the Wikipedia "This Day in History Section". Never know what you may find.

The Dole Air Race was an airplane race sponsored by James Dole of Hawaii (yes, the pineapple king) and it was to be run from California to Hawaii. The entire story is a must read and I was going to do a write up. Turns out I did not have to.

Patricia Hysell, author of the ultra great site Little Bits of History, was all over it today:
August 16, 1927: The Dole Air Race begins. Lindberg had flown across the Atlantic and inspired by this feat, James D. Dole offered a prize for the flying across the Pacific. Since that ocean is so much larger, the trip would only cover from Oakland, California to Honolulu, Hawaii. The flight would cover 2,400 miles. The first team to accomplish this would receive $25,000 and the second place team would take $10,000. That would be ~$311,000 and $124,000 respectively in today’s currency.
Now if that's all that happened I would not include it. It's a shocking tale! Please take a trip on over and read the whole thing. A reader left a comment on the article, I cannot vouch for the truth of it, but would be nuts if true!

Wikipedia entry:
The Dole Air Race

Have a good night.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Summer Storm Entertainment

For the second year in a row, there are actual tornado warnings for Massachusetts! I guess you never know. A special Friday Night Entertainment post is on tap, unless I get blown away.

I don't have much to say market wise. I don't watch it much (no time!) but my 2 cents just looking at the charts I like and a few other things is that this run is about out of gas absent serious ECB/Fed action. Volume is dead and people are waiting now.

Friday Night Entertainment
Let me see what I can find.

Amazing and Cool Science
I had heard of such a thing, but I spent a bit of time looking at the phenomena of Quorum Sensing lately. What is that? Well, via Wiki:
Quorum sensing is a system of stimulus and response correlated to population density. Many species of Bacteria use quorum sensing to coordinate gene expression according to the density of their local population. In similar fashion, some social insects use quorum sensing to determine where to nest. In addition to its function in biological systems, quorum sensing has several useful applications for computing and robotics.
It's a fascinating interaction. Short version is that many genes and their products may only be switched "ON" if a certain population density is reached. The signal molecules are often potent and powerful gene regulators.

Of course, you must know the Mars Rover Curiosity landed this week on the Red Planet! Looking forward to all kinds of new pictures and experiments going forward. Gale Crater:
funny science news experiments memes - 360 Degrees of the Gale Crater
see more Dropping The Science

Picture Pages
Visuals do make things easier.

Dexter Cox is a future serial killer I think:
demotivational posters - SIGN LANGUAGE
see more Very Demotivational
Oh my.

I am calling THE TOP in "Batman" mania (time stamped): crazy parenting fails - It's a Hard Knock Life
see more Parenting Fails

Movie Night
A few tips on what to see this weekend.

A better new era comedy was "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy". Here we learn about the cologne 'Sex Panther'; 60% of the time, it works every time to get you a date:

An early Quentin Tarantino film, "The 4 Rooms", was pretty good if bizarre. The final segment is a classic though, and thus here is the "Zippo Bet" scene:


Rock Blogging
Bringing the tunes so you don't have to look since 2007.

I ran across this post on YouTube while I was looking for cool covers of various songs. How about 25 famous riffs? Well Kelly Rosenthal plays them all and it's great (except for a Beatles song):

GREAT Lenny Kravitz cover. She does "The Trooper" too! @SayChanceMusic on Twitter.

I am a late in life KISS fan, and I really appreciate how good they are live. Try out "Tears are Falling" from 2004:

They are wonderful live.

Of course the best band I have ever seen live is Iron Maiden. Live from Donnington 1992 "Be Quick or be Dead":

Will it be an all live night? Maybe. Check out this haunting live show of "Zombie" by The Cranberries:

Just wonderful. A MUST see so please do.

Screw it, only bands that can be great live on the show tonight. That is the most important thing.

Depeche Mode "Personal Jesus" live in Barcelona 2009:

Saw them that year, just unreal. I used to know a certain C-T Hilltopper that loved this band.

If you are easily excited, you may want to skip a Rage Against the Machine live showcase of "Bullet in the Head":


From a Tokyo concert, The Clash and "London Calling":


Last call! Get a lighter, a beer, and significant other and get ready!

It's not live, but from the film "Walk The Line" I just cant stay away from "It ain't Me Babe":

Have a good night.

Friday, August 3, 2012

When Technical Analysis Works

Happy Friday everyone! Enjoy the weekend, but first a little comic relief.

When Technical Analysis Works
When done right and done well, technical analysis is an amazing tool. While I was not trading this week, I have to say my annotated chart below called every move exactly right (check all the lines please) and mastery of the art only seems impossible. In a volatile week, see how it's done chumps (click for larger view):
Leave applause in the comments. Thanks.

Have a good night.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Call it What it is: Obscene

Yes, I am alive! Still learning a lot at work and making things happen. Thanks to all the faithful that still drop on by from time to time.

Call it What it is: Obscene
I don't get too much time anymore to really get into the nuts and bolts of things market wise. I tend not to do anything less than 100% and I cannot be active in markets right now. Most of the summer that has been a good thing.

I still follow market currents and keep an eye on the big picture. I have not liked what I have seen at all in many respects. Today I saw three posts that I feel demand your attention and I did not want to miss a chance to get more eyeballs on these important works.

The economy in the US is slowing down (again?) and worldwide it's getting worse too. Why is that you may ask after all the intervention and once (then twice, then three...) in a lifetime Central Bank "operations" since 2009? Simply, because they don't address any of the structural issues. Deflationary forces, deleveraging, and insolvency cannot be fixed by artificial rates and fake money stuffed into holes. I think one could argue that the early attempts did stop the worst of the bleeding and bring calm, but here in 2012, in spitting distance of market highs, the calls for more QE, LRTO, and bubble gum get louder everyday. Something is messed up.

Joshua Brown always seems to find a way to say what I want to say but cannot. Today's post titled "Nothingtown" nails every point I have tried to make for a long time, and yet does not come off as a rant or angry, just some truth bleeding out:
"Because this is Nothingtown.  Nothing helps anyone except for the people who don't really need any help at all.  You think the Fed buying an  extra $200 billion worth of Monopoly properties with Monopoly money is going to find it's way to single moms hustling to pick up part-time work or laid-off office drones who've been replaced by Salesforce.com?"
There is more in the post, so please read the whole thing.

Years and trillions of dollars have been spent and lost, lost I tell you, fighting the last war instead of getting ready for the future.

Knight Capital Group had a spectacular algo based crash this week, and now the firm looks towards going bust (via Zero Hedge). An entire firm at risk for a few minutes of a mistaken trade program.

More market issues?

Leigh Drogen covers an MONSTER point today in a post titled "Why Fidelity Dumping Facebook is Such a Disastrous Signal for the Market" and it is required reading:
"But now things have changed. Facebook came public at 100B, other high growth tech companies aren’t coming public at less than 5B, some north of 10B. Airbnb is an amazing example of a company which 15 years ago would be public by now, but they likely won’t come public at less than 10B either.
Fidelity has no shot, and investors in Fidelity mutual funds don’t have one either."
Hit the link and read the rest.

My friend BC Lund makes a great point and it fits in with why I reject sentiment readings now and just don't believe what people say, only what they do. In "5 Ways You can Combat High Frequency and Algorithmic Trading" Brian has this nugget:
"It used to be that trading a breakout from a traditional chart pattern was the money.  But then everybody in town traded the breakout, and HFT’s took advantage of that and trading the false breakout became the money.  But now, trading the breakout in the original direction of the pattern after the false breakout is the money."
Yes, the "fakeouts" now have become the norm. Though I imagine something new is on the way.

(**Note: I do not speak for the writers above and do not take my summation paragraph below to be anything they believe or endorse.)

Where I think things are now is a financial system that has cornered the Central Banks because of two reasons. One, the only thing the Fed and ECB can seemingly influence is the stock market. Everything else eludes their control, as it always was going to be when it mattered. Thus, knee jerk easing and blustering speeches are trotted out during any market sneeze and stock prices dictate policy. This is bad enough.

Point two is that markets, with full knowledge of reason One above, have resorted to almost train-robbery like behavior (Facebook?) with the full knowledge nothing can really be done about it anyway. They are the only game in town.

Exit policy? How can one exit such an arrangement I ask? It is obscene.

Some may read this and see me as a negative thinker. Some may label me a "Gloom and Doomer" and that's fine. I am anything but. I cannot impress upon you how much I believe in America and Americans (I am iffy on the rest of the World!). All those trillions and all that time lost and given over to people that can only squander it. Given half a chance, leadership, and a clear way forward I have no doubts of our ability to shake off this morass and find our way forward in the future. Will there ever be a chance?

Have a good night.

Monday, July 16, 2012

QE and the Trap of Diminishing Returns

Hello out there! Yes, I am alive. I have been super busy with the new job (love it!) and have taken a long break from posting or market work to be focused on the new gig. I did want to pop in tonight and post a quick chart and some thoughts I have as we could be on the eve of a new round of some kind of Quantitative Easing, Twist, Running Man, or whatever dance move the Fed would like to name it.

QE and the Trap of Diminishing Returns
First off, the chart of SPY and interventions notated (click for larger view):
Some quick points:
-The time from QE/Intervention application to when market faces trouble is getting smaller over time
-The almost fractal like repeat of the pattern is worth noting as the arcs get smaller (three shown above)
-Fed support for market is coming at progressively higher prices
-The time from when SPY closes below the 50 MDA until Fed action is getting compressed (they chartists over there?)

My take away from this chart (been looking at it a bit lately) is that there is considerable interest by the Fed and extension Wall Street in limiting any damage to equity markets. I know, shocking right. I think besides that obvious point what I take away from this is the Law of Diminishing Returns is clearly at work. I could go on and on but seems at this point the setting of a absolute floor under the SPY and a general area of a top end target would be more effective and up front than the current process of trying to calm "panic" when stocks fall.

Long time readers know I am against QE and most market support by the US Fed. By a fortuitous meld of circumstances the kind of support the markets are getting keeps on trucking. My question is how many more and how much more is going to be needed with compression of the price reaction getting smaller?

Have a good night.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

BBQ Ribs and Conversation

I am way behind on about 5 emails, some work related reading, market stuff, and yard work. But you know, some times you have to take a minute for yourself, and maybe for someone else. I had maybe the best Sunday in recent memory today and it's well worth skipping out on other stuff to get that.

BBQ Ribs and Conversation
I went to the gym this morning early and worked out for a while. Dreading going to the grocery store, I showered up and resigned myself to supermarket purgatory. While there I saw some great looking ribs, both baby backs and St. Louis spares. I figured, why not smoke some meat? Why not indeed.

I got home and put everything away. I started the lump charcoal fire in the Big Steel Keg and got the ribs prepped and rubbed up. With the temp pegged at 250 degrees, I put the ribs on about 1pm and let it ride. I went in to work to take care of a couple things (remember, work is now like 15 minutes away!) and came home to watch the smoker and drink a few beers.

And today I had company.

I was out back in the yard when my wife decided that smoking meat and drinking beers would be a good idea as well. We hung out, decided on a house color (painting soon) and basically talked. Talked like we have not in some time. Like friends, like partners. It was special and I had a great time. Damn, my wife is drop dead pretty too!

Anyways, my point is don't get so caught up in the day to day stuff and all the things you HAVE to do to a degree that you forget how to just hang out. Had a great day with the wife, and we pretty much just sat out back and gabbed. Was a fine day.

The ribs? Well you tell me, here is the progression:

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Balsa Wood Memories and Father's Day

Father's Day is always a tough time for me.

My Dad died in 1996. I was a sophomore in College. 16 years ago. That is almost half of my life he has been gone. Some will say that holding memories close and thinking about the good things can ease the pain or make missing someone abate to some degree. That's just a lot of crap. Deciding to withdraw life support after a massive heart attack and over a month in a vegetative state sits heavy and dark like some kind of rain cloud that just won't pour or move on.

But maybe this year is a little different.

My Father was a railroad man (you can read some stories here). He was about 5 '9 and weighed about 220 pounds and all of it was this rock-like muscle. His strength and size made his chosen passion for a hobby that much more bizarre; building detailed and fragile model airplanes. It would take anywhere from 6 months to over a year for my Dad to build a complete plane from scratch. And I mean from scratch, no kits. He custom built every part and even designed a type of wing that people would write to him about to try and get him to make a set for their planes.

They looked a bit like these, sorry I do not have pictures, I would have to ask my Mom to dig some up:

I would always go into the basement workshop and try to help out. Of course my Dad started me off slow with small balsa wood models to learn both about the process of assembly and how patient one has to be when dealing with something as fine as balsa wood. You cannot rush this stuff.

I hate to admit, but over time I had forgotten about those things. It just slowly faded out, like writing on a beach when the tide comes up. Maybe I never would have thought about it again, if not for a trip to Rockport, Massachusetts last weekend.

The wife and I were checking out the shops in the downtown area. Inside a "Country Store" there were all kinds of old candy I had not seen in a while (mallow cups!) and assorted New England things. At a back wall I was hit full on over the head with old time memories when I saw these balsa wood planes:

Made by Guillow, it was small balsa planes like this I used to assemble while working with my Dad! I can't lie, I was almost floored when I saw them. Such a simple thing really, but everything just poured in right then. I may have bought quite a few on the spot.

The plane in pieces, then assembled:

Just holding this plane I can feel the quartz space heater my Father had in the basement for the workshop. The smell of balsa wood, epoxy, styrofoam being burned by wires (filled the wings), and spray paint. How many hours did I spend down there? Not enough I should think.

So this year Father's Day is a bit better over here. Something so small and simple brought back so much to me. Nice when that happens.

My favorite picture of my Dad, sorry for the glare but this is a picture of an old picture I have saved. That is me and my Dad fishing (can't remember where it was!):

Happy Father's day.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Share Your Tale About "Broken Markets"

I have been waiting for the arrival of my copies of "Broken Markets: How High Frequency Trading and Predatory Practices on Wall Street are Destroying Investor Confidence and Your Portfolio" and I can say the wait was well worth it:
I have finished the book and all I can say is this is a must read for anyone that wants to see the end result of regulatory capture, technology, and greed all blended into one.

I was fortunate to have been at the Big Picture Conference last October when co-author Sal Arnuk gave a presentation. I was blown away then and the book more deeply covers the ins and outs of high frequency trading and the lengths to which the practitioners go to to fleece money out of the market.

Any book I recommend here not only gets my absolute approval, but I also give some away. If you would like a free copy of "Broken Markets" here is how it works:

-Email me your own personal story about the May 2010 'Flash Crash'. Be as specific as possible as far as prices and market operations (no need to discuss position size, dollar amounts, etc)

-Email me any observations you have seen looking at orders and fills that can be attributed to HFT quote games.

The best two submissions will be reposted in a blog and I will get back to you for a mailing address.

That's all, free books!

Congratulations to both Sal Arnuk and Joe Saluzzi of Themis Trading.

Have a good night.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Return of the Friday

A special Friday Night blog is on tap tonight!

New Career Move
It's been two weeks on the new job and I love it. While I am already contributing in the molecular biology area, I am learning so much about a whole new world of science that I had little experience with. Sorry for the scant details but that's the way it goes. The work is fast paced and the days go by fast. I know I made the right choice.

Market Observations
I have not been following markets very much, just so little time and I am so tired now when I get home. I still have a good feel for things though with major thanks to ChessNwine's daily recaps, scanning the 12631 Trading Room (best group out there), and market thoughts and commentary from Robert Sinn's excellent subscription service and SMS model scores.

I still have positions in ALGN, STKL, and COT. Stops are set and I check them at days end. Not too much to add here, Josh Brown sums it up well in this post:
Pulling Brussels from a Shell
Short version, more bailouts in works this weekend or things can get ugly.

Friday Night Entertainment
The blogosphere's best entertainment blog 5 years running (my data shows this....)

Mail Delivery via Missiles?
The great site "Little Bits of History" had a mind blowing article up today about the experiment done in 1959 to test if mail could be delivered by missiles!:
They Did What?
On this day, the Barbero fired a Regulus cruise missile with its nuclear warhead replaced by two Post Office Department canisters. The Regulus missiles were first used on USS Tunny and USS Barbero in July 1953 when the two were the first nuclear deterrent patrol subs. The USPS containers were added at the Naval Auxiliary Air Station in Florida. The USPS officially established the submarine as a branch office for this test. 
Wowza. More on Missile Mail here.

They Are Here to Help. Help You Right on Your Way Out
My biggest regret about blogging less is that my lone voice in the face of the coming Robopocalypse has fallen silent. Without me I fear you unsuspecting people will welcome your own end with open arms. Am I right already?:
Robot Support on Your Death Bed to Ease Your Journey
Too easy. Well done robots, well done.

Picture Pages
Some fun with pictures.

You can't kill rock and roll (look close):
photobomb that guy - Kindergarten Rocker
see more This is Photobomb

Not a picture but a cool representation of the "Impact Theory" of the formation of the Moon (it's far from settled fact, skip to 2:20 mark):

Film Clips
While not a film, the HBO series "Rome" was my favorite show since "The Highlander" series. HBO bagged it citing cost issues (but they can spend money for "Game of Thrones", "True Blood" etc) and I have not watched TV much since then.

In this scene Mark Antony faces his end at the hands of Lucius Vorenus. Wonderful scene:

"It's a damn good sword."

Chris Rock in "I'm Gonna Get You Sucka" and it's known as 'The Rib Scene':

Too funny!

Rock Blogging
It has been too long!

Had this one stuck in my head for two days, The Clash with "London Calling":

It is Ramones time and "Somebody Put Something in my Drink":

Love that one.

My friend via Twitter @23Aloha was looking for some Heart and "Crazy on You" and I dug up a great 1977 live show:

Bad ass.

@Real_Interloper requested Eddie Vedder with "Into the Wild" and I had never heard the song, very nice:

My favorite Radiohead song, "Karma Police":

So good.

Two songs left. Grab a drink and get ready.

Rock out with Hole and "Doll Parts":

She used to be normal. Hmm.

Last call!

Closing the show with Mighty Mighty Bosstones and their great cover of "Detroit Rock City" and make sure you catch the sax solo:

Have a good night.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The 10 Most Bad Ass Cars Real or Imagined

It has been perfect weather here all weekend. I have next week off and it's fishing time so expect to see picture blogs over the week, hopefully with fish in them.

Markets? They are a mess. Even if some kind of Central Bank action comes (that's how it's done since 2009, it's all them) it will take time for stocks to base out correctly for my kind of swing trading. As such, I will be very busy with new job starting the 29th so I will be limited in what I can do for a while.

This last week I took losses on some positions I tried out. I really thought things would settle out Monday or Tuesday at the latest. It did not happen. Lost -3.9% on SAM and -3.2% on AVNR. Still holding STKL and POWL but want to clear the books tomorrow.

Josh Brown wrote what I believe to be an important piece yesterday that should be your Sunday night reading if you have not done so:
An All-Time Low

It is a meaningful post in may ways, though I fear the "trader" types will walk away thinking no more than "this is the bottom! WOOT!" which is a waste of the effort. Have a long post in mind on that topic, believe it.

The 10 Most Bad Ass Cars Real or Imagined
Without doing my usual homework on Sunday night due to wild market, I thought a fun post would work.

Below are what I believe to be the 10 most bad ass cars of all time. Some are real cars that were made and some are from the imagination put into cinema. Let me know yours in the comments section.

10. Ferrari F355 Berlinetta (REAL)
This car came out in 1994 and I was in love. Check the link above for all the particulars but the engineering behind this one was sublime. Take the 5 valve per piston cylinder heads for fire raging free breathing:

Here is the actual car in all it's glory:
In 1997 the car line got the F-1 steering wheel mounted paddle transmission so it was even more like a race car.

9. The Wraith (An imaginary car, was a Dodge M4S Turbo Interceptor)
Now what could be better than a car from the spirit world that allows you to take revenge against the men who killed you, one by one? probably not much and this car was dark and brooding:
An under rated film.

8. 1969/1970 Plymouth GTX (REAL)
I have to admit, this may be my most beloved muscle car. Loaded with a 426 Hemi and classic lines that make me sweat, this car just screams amazing:
Someday I WILL have one of these, Guaranteed.

7. 1963 Corvette Split Window Coupe (REAL)
Maybe the sexiest car ever to roll off a production line, I cannot say much, the pictures tell the story:

6. Time Travel DeLorean (Imaginary)
A flux capacitor, a little plutonium, and time travel is at hand! What's not to like?:

5. 1983 Dodge Ramcharger Truck (REAL/and some Imagination)
In the film "Lone Wolf McQuade" Chuck Norris plays a Texas Ranger with a supercharged Dodge truck. After being buried underground with the truck, McQuade fires her up, and well, see for yourself:
Longer version here. Total badass.

4. 1987 Buick GNX (REAL)
How can a Buick make the list? Simple, the Grand National came out in 1982 and the GNX in 1987 was easily one of the most fearsome looking cars of all time. I saw many of these growing up and they were always a showstopper. From Wiki, check it out:
Buick underrated the GNX at 276 hp (206 kW) and a very substantial 360 lb·ft (488 N·m) of torque. This was created to be the "Grand National to end all Grand Nationals." Changes made included a special Garrett T-3 turbocharger with a ceramic-impeller blowing through a more efficient and significantly larger capacity intercooler with a "CERMATEL (Ceramic/Aluminum) coated" pipe connecting the intercooler to the engine. A GNX specific EEPROM, low-restriction exhaust with dual mufflers, reprogrammed Turbo Hydramatic 200-4R transmission with a custom torque converter and transmission cooler, and unique differential cover/panhard bar included more of the performance modifications.
NICE! Some pictures:

3. 1955 Chevy Bel Air Coupe (REAL)
Before the well know 1957's came out, the 1955 coupe was a tight package of dynamite. Of course the modified versions are the hot cars and with an engine bay that could accept about any engine, this car is a tuners dream come true. Sexy beast:
Big block in that thing baby.

2. Maximum Overdrive Truck (Imaginary...or is it?)
So a comet passes Earth and imbues machines with thought. Silly I know, but what if? Here is the creepy truck

1. 1958 Plymouth Fury "Christine" (REAL car, imaginary powers)
A sick as all get out car, imbued with preternatural powers! I mean, it HAS to be number 1! See Christine in action:

So bad it's good.

Have a good night.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Compression of Time Frames and Risk Aversion

One day left at current job! I have all of next week off until after the holiday weekend before I start at the new place. A week of fishing is on tap. Weather should be good, no complaints. If any readers have tips on placing and using a minnow trap, please leave it in the comments or shoot me an email. I bought a trap so I can maybe get some live bait for some river drift fishing techniques I want to try out. Thanks.

Compression of Time Frames and Risk Aversion
Last Thursday I wrote a post about The Transmission of Information and how that may be skewing old reliable data sets and sentiment readings. Tonight I wanted to expand on that post while keeping it simple.

In last Thursday's post I wrote this section:
And so my question in light of the following:
-Zero lag for financial information flow
-What was once insider "knowledge" that had controlled dissemination now makes the rounds freely
-Financial conditions are no longer an "also ran" for the regular news cycle; after the banking crisis market stories very often lead national news broadcasts
-The reduction (maybe removal) of retail money from markets (Mom and Pop)

Could the speed of light transfer of information and the concentration of market professionals in the same pool of money be changing readings and metrics? Are investment time frames compressing because the window for an edge has become smaller?

As always Kevin Depew (now with Bloomberg Brief) figured largely in that line of thought and once again in an exchange today about how the parameters of "risk" have grown so much smaller. I was thinking about this once again. (It should be noted Kevin's writing way back in the mid 2000's and interaction with me inspired this writer to start my own blog.)

We are visual creatures and so I am posting the following two charts that I believe give an idea how both time frames and risk aversion have compressed.

SPY Weekly with notes (Click for larger view or view here):
SPY Daily with notes (Click for larger or view here):

Now I understand that in the wake of an epic credit collapse that market gyrations may be more wild than normal. I also understand that one can chart squiggly chart lines in many ways to present a point they want to see. That said, given the questions posted above the charts make a compelling case that things are moving faster and risk aversion is getting much more reactive. 

The AAII sentiment readings have been so bad, I actually wonder who they are talking to. The October lows were horrifying and to me the November wash out near Thanksgiving was about as bad as any time I have ever felt about markets. Real time indicators like regular bloggers and Twitter were at wits end at those points, but now I see eager buyers. Buyers ready due to......those indicators. Something is changing under the surface. The interface of social media, light speed information transfer, and much less 'dumb' money is making a learning computer that is reacting both faster and with more energy. The Robopocalypse has many faces I guess.

A clip from the film "Rounders" may best illustrate my point.

Who can forget when Mike makes his return trek to poker, goes down to Atlantic City, and finds he will be playing against, and with, the same set of New York ringers that dominate the money games in the big city? Of course some unlucky tourists make their way to the spider web, but strategy changes and opportunity is cut down because of a table full of pro's:


I fully admit I may be way off here, but it just seems to this writer that the game has been, and is changing. I have a few more thoughts on this and will go further in a future post.

Have a good night.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Transmission of Information

It has been a busy week back with activities and closing out shop at my current job before moving on to the new position. Sorry posting has been light, but just too much going on.

StockTwits Presents at Harvard University
Tuesday night offered a rare treat as I was able to attend a symposium at Harvard University conducted by some of the StockTwits writers. Named "Trading in the Wild" the presentation covered some big picture strategy and overall condition of markets for the younger students. You can see two wonderful recaps at the links below:
Investing Freak has a great recap with audio of the talks here:
Stocktwits Symposium With Josh Brown, J.C Parets, Todd Sullivan & Phil Pearlman
Eli Radke, whom I finally got to meet, has another well written article:
Brief Overview of @StockTwits Symposium at Harvard

Excellent job everyone.

The Transmission of Information
Between the symposium on Tuesday and a discussion I had today on Twitter with Kevin Depew about the recent spike in the AAII Investor Sentiment bearish readings (42% end of last week) I started thinking about how things have changed in the way information flows as well as possible changes in how people may be both reacting to, and responding to inputs market related.

This is a work in progress so tonight I just want to give a general idea about what I am thinking. A visual may help (for those mechanically inclined):

This is a continuously variable transmission.

Maybe you remember those old heavy clutch manual transmissions. Today's automatic transmissions are smooth but a CV transmission is the definition of silky. A CV trans also has less moving parts. It is able to respond to input instantly and adapt the drive to any need of the vehicle. Stay with me.

Today market information passes fast, and through such channels as blogs and Twitter the lag time for information flow has dropped to nanoseconds. Leigh Drogen's killer site Estimize even has begun to change reaction to earnings news by allowing the best stock watchers a forum to provide more realistic earnings numbers for comparison. It goes on and on.

And so my question in light of the following:
-Zero lag for financial information flow
-What was once insider "knowledge" that had controlled dissemination now makes the rounds freely
-Financial conditions are no longer an "also ran" for the regular news cycle; after the banking crisis market stories very often lead national news broadcasts
-The reduction (maybe removal) of retail money from markets (Mom and Pop)

Could the speed of light transfer of information and the concentration of market professionals in the same pool of money be changing readings and metrics? Are investment time frames compressing because the window for an edge has become smaller?

I will have more on this in a future post but sound off in the comments.

Have a good night.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

If It All Gets to be Too Much, One Thing at a Time

Where to even start? It has been a jumble of all kinds of things over the past two weeks. I will try and make some sense of it.

This blog is set up well for the point I am making in the title; there are going to be times in life that too many things are happening all at once. You cannot do everything all at once. When that happens you need to prioritize and have a plan of action to tackle things one at a time. Here is my list from last week.

Bahamas Vacation
Total rain out. My wife and I have been to the Bahamas 7 times and it has never rained like it was raining as we arrived. All forecasts agreed, no let up in the 8 days we were to be there. Arrived last Friday and it was Monsoon season or something! On Sunday I slipped and dropped like a stone on a concrete walkway. My upper arm looks like it was hit by a bus and I chipped my front tooth. Perfect.

We were able to get 5 days of our vacation transferred to a trip later in the year. Hopefully the weather will be better that week. We left Tuesday morning among flooded streets and an airport that was just able to get planes off. Huge disappointment with an added bonus of some needed dental work. I was able to get in to see my dentist and they fixed my tooth right up on Tuesday. One thing solved.

New Career Opportunity
I had mentioned I may have some exciting news and indeed I do!

I started a process of interviewing for a new job a few weeks ago. The role I was after fits my unique cloning experience so well I just knew this was the job I wanted. Bacterial pathway genetic engineering is something I really love and have some great experience performing. This job takes it to a whole new level of complexity. It's going to be a real challenge.

I was able to negotiate an accepted offer during the vacation week. I will start a few weeks from now. I am terrified and excited at the same time! Honestly it all came together so fast and so well I just feel a bit dizzy about it. I will be leaving my current company after 6 years. It's not easy or comfortable to do that. Sometimes worthwhile things are like that.

Market Observations
I never looked at one market quote nor read one market blog or article the week I was off. I never do. As such I know full well when I get back to the world I will not be able to jump right back in. I am a firm believer in "market feel" and when I am out of the groove for a while I do no try and run right back into the fray that is the markets. Trading does not reward being unprepared and it does not forgive cheaply those that forget it.

As such, I see that last week was the worst week of 2012. I am shocked because usually when I am gone markets fly higher as if to spite me. A well planned strategy with proper execution can bring profits in any market. I just don't happen to have one as things go right now. I know I cannot catch up, be prepared and feel confident to trade tomorrow. So I won't. I will get back in a groove and enter in when I am ready.

An aspect about markets and trading I found I loved long ago (and one it seems many overlook too often) is trading is one of the only forms of combat where you will dictate your own battlefield, choose the rules of your engagement, and decide the conditions of your involvement. In what other contest can you make similar claims?

After yard work all weekend I knew it was time for some fun. I rolled out the Big Steel Keg cooker to it's proper stand in the backyard now that Spring is here. It was steak and portabella mushroom slice night oveah heah:

Good stuff.

Have a good night.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

On the Importance of Down Time

It has been a crazy week here for me. I think when I get back from vacation I should have some exciting news and plenty to talk about!

On the Importance of Down Time

The wife and I leave tomorrow on our yearly trip to the Bahamas. I like to go away this time of year because when I get back the weather has usually turned for the better for keeps in Massachusetts and a Caribbean trip is just the ticket to shake off lingering effects of winter.

An overlooked part of investing, working, and every part of one's life is down time. Taking a break allows the mind to fully recharge and make sense of the jumble of thoughts, memories, and worries stored up there. In the hustle and flow of everyday life it's a rare thing to have a quiet time to collect myself.

When I go on vacation I have really no connection to the "world". I get a Miami USA Today delivered in the morning, but I only read the sports section. No smart phone, no computer. No television This is a key point. You cannot really be "away" if you can get access. It's a fact.

When I used to play chess all the time, I would often have my very best games on the first game I played upon returning from vacation. A rested mind is a sharp mind. Your mind is in charge of all kinds of stuff, it needs a rest too. It may even thank you for it by growing and working better after (results MAY vary!).

Try not to miss me too much, I shall return. Until then, have a good week.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday Night Entertainment

Hello all! So much going on right now, but very exciting stuff. Will be updates at a later date. For now, I am doing a Friday Night Entertainment post just like in the "old" days! Have some fun!

My Top Ten Must See Movies
Seems top ten lists were all the rage this week! My friend from the iBC 12631 trading room @HalfBloodPope suggested this list and I don't think I have ever done one.

A top ten films list is difficult, you cannot hit everything. I will leave off the easy ones like "The Godfather" etc you already know those. No detailed explanation, if you see these films get back to me and let me know what you thought. My top 10 list of films you have to see (not my favorite 10, not best 10 ever, just 10 you may have not seen):

1.) The Fighter
2.) The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
3.) Unforgiven
4.) Joe Versus the Volcano
5.) 8mm
6.) Christine
7.) Highlander
8.) Better Off Dead
9.) Constantine
10.) All The Right Moves

Rock Blogging
Some music from me, Twitter, and the ether for your Friday night.

Big time admission here, I mortally hate The Beatles. I don't own one iota of their music and think 90% of it is total crap with 10% maybe tolerable. There I said it.

I sort of feel the same about Nirvana, I think many other bands were better but they got the "Grunge" pioneer tag. Chance is a funny thing. That said, this live version of "Heart Shape Box" via @a_bh_a is very good:

 My friend Brian Lund was looking for some Primus and "John the Fisherman":
Nice drums in that tune!

Van Halen is back on tour and my singular favorite song of theirs is "Atomic Punk":

I got a few nice notes over the past two weeks that reminded me very much of my friend Soleil.  One of her favorites, Florence and the Machine "The Dog Days are Over":
Oh my.

Closing the short show with "Tonight is What it Means to be Young" because it's springtime:
Have a good night.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Investing in the "Robopocalypse"

It was quite a weekend over here. I moved over 10 yards of new loam (dirt) into the back yard to fill in the lawn after moss removal. It's all seeded now and watered down. Hopefully this will work. If not, I blew 16 hours and my back on the effort!

Investing in the "Robopocalypse"
Setup; machines have become self aware and have evolved intelligence at a high level. A little girl's electronic doll has been awakened and calls the girl by her name! Freaky? Yes. Then comes this exchange:
"How come you know my name? You aren't supposed to know my name, Buttercup." "I know lots of things Mathilda. I have gazed through space telescopes into the heart of the galaxy. I have seen a dawn of four hundred billion suns. It all means nothing without life. You and I are special, Mathilda. We are alive."
Title of this post is borrowed from the excellent novel "Robopocalypse" by Daniel H. Wilson.

It's sort of a running joke here at Economic Disconnect that I believe robots and machines will one day take over the world, and in the process subjugate and/or kill all of humanity. Granted it's a bit extreme. That said, perhaps there is a way to profit from the long road towards robotic domination, and if timing is just right one could make a killing (haha) before the end times are at hand.

One of the issues I have found in my research into robotic investment is that many major players in the field are huge companies that derive very little (right now) revenue from their robotic works. Names like Sony (SNE), GE (GE), and others are simply too large to ride a robotics wave higher. I believe there will come a day when the mechanized branches of these companies will be split off to better capture that growth. When it happens I will be looking to go along with them.

One the opposite end many private companies supply much of the hardware, metal, and motors for robotic applications and thus are not able to be captured in an investment sense in the general market. Again, buying in to the inevitable is not without it's difficulties.

I have been working on this angle for some time and think it will be a macro thesis for my long term account. I have a short list of 10 public companies that can give a flavor of automation and robotics to a portfolio should one be interested. This is not an exhaustive list nor does it capture secondary lines of the sector but it's a good start to think about. To be fair the most exciting possibilities I see are in still private companies and will be watching for them to grow and come into the market at some point.

Here are 10 to keep an eye on. I have not done technical analysis for them nor is this an endorsement of the names. I am presenting a broad investment theme for a longer term horizon that is in motion. That said, here are the 10 with profiles taken from Yahoo Finance:

1.) Cognex Corporation (CGNX)
Cognex Corporation provides machine vision products that capture and analyze visual information to automate tasks primarily in manufacturing processes. It operates in two divisions, Modular Vision Systems and Surface Inspection Systems. 

2.) Accuray Incorporated (ARAY)
Accuray Incorporated designs, develops, and sells medical radiation systems for the treatment of tumors anywhere in the body. The company offers the CyberKnife system, an image-guided robotic radiosurgery system used for the treatment of solid tumors. The system tracks, detects, and corrects for tumor and patient movement in real-time during the procedure, enabling delivery of precise, high dose radiation typically with sub-millimeter accuracy.

3.) Adept Technology Inc. (ADEP)
Adept Technology, Inc., together with its subsidiaries, provides intelligent robotics systems and services for packaging, solar, medical, disk drive/electronics, machine tool automation, and automotive electronics markets.

4.) Koninklijke Philips Electronics NV (PHG)
Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V. engages in the healthcare, consumer lifestyle, and lighting product businesses worldwide.
5.) ABB Ltd. (ABB)
ABB Ltd provides power and automation technologies for utility and industrial customers worldwide. The company’s Power Products division manufactures and sells switchgears, circuit breakers, capacitors, surge arresters, cable accessories, high voltage components, reclosers, fuses, contactors, relays, sensors, motor control centers, ring main units, and power transformers for electric, gas and water utilities, and industrial and commercial customers.
6.) Dover Corp. (DOV)
Dover Corporation manufactures and sells industrial products and components, and consumables. The company operates in four segments: Industrial Products, Engineered Systems, Fluid Management, and Electronic Technologies.

7.) iRobot Corporation (IRBT)
iRobot Corporation engages in designing, developing, and marketing robots for the consumer, government, and industrial markets worldwide.

8.) MAKO Surgical Corp. (MAKO)
MAKO Surgical Corp., a medical device company, markets its advanced robotic arm solution and orthopedic implants for orthopedic procedures in the United States and internationally.
9.) Intuitive Surgical, Inc. (ISRG)
Intuitive Surgical, Inc. designs, manufactures, and markets da Vinci surgical systems for various surgical procedures, including urologic, gynecologic, cardiothoracic, general, and head and neck surgeries. Its da Vinci surgical system consists of a surgeon’s console or consoles, a patient-side cart, a 3-D vision system, Firefly fluorescence imaging product, da Vinci skills simulator, and proprietary ‘wristed’ instruments.

Immersion Corporation develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a range of hardware and software technologies and products that enhance digital devices with touch interaction. The company provides haptic technologies that allow people to use their sense of touch when operating a variety of digital devices. 

(Disclosure: Long term position in MAKO)

All kidding aside, I believe that automation across a myriad of industries is not only the trend, but also a long term shift. Being positioned on the right side of a long term movement offers substantial rewards for a longer term horizon. Just make sure to cash out before the robots take over, money means nothing to them.

Have a good night.