Michael Lewis Visits Danny Kahneman

Really nice piece by Michael Lewis on Danny Kahneman in current Vanity Fair:

He was working on a book, he said. It would be both intellectual memoir and an attempt to teach people how to think. As he was the world’s leading authority on his subject, and a lot of people would pay hard cash to learn how to think, this sounded promising enough to me. He disagreed: he was certain his book would end in miserable failure. He wasn’t even sure that he should be writing a book, and it was probably just a vanity project for a washed-up old man, an unfinished task he would use to convince himself that he still had something to do, right up until the moment he died. Twenty minutes into meeting the world’s most distinguished living psychologist I found myself in the strange position of trying to buck up his spirits. But there was no point: his spirits did not want bucking up. Having spent maybe 15 minutes discussing just how bad his book was going to be, we moved on to a more depressing subject. He was working, equally unhappily, on a paper about human intuition—when people should trust their gut and when they should not—with a fellow scholar of human decision-making named Gary Klein. Klein, as it happened, was the leader of a school of thought that stressed the power of human intuition, and disagreed with the work of Kahneman and Tversky. Kahneman said that he did this as often as he could: seek out people who had attacked or criticized him and persuade them to collaborate with him. He not only tortured himself, in other words, but invited his enemies to help him to do it. “Most people after they win the Nobel Prize just want to go play golf,” said Eldar Shafir, a professor of psychology at Princeton and a disciple of Amos Tversky’s. “Danny’s busy trying to disprove his own theories that led to the prize. It’s beautiful, really.”

via The King of Human Error | Business | Vanity Fair.

Alien Invasions: Krugman vs The White House

Economist Paul Krugman isn’t always on the same side of things as the White House, but they’re usually in the same general star quadrant. Not, however, when it comes to alien invasions, it seems.

Here is Krugman over the weekend warning (alright, only sort of) of alien invasions:

And the White House responds (alright, to something else, but it’s close):

Searching for ET, But No Evidence Yet

By Phil Larson

Thank you for signing the petition asking the Obama Administration to acknowledge an extraterrestrial presence here on Earth.

Germany, Not China, Must Bail Europe

Good Michael Pettis post:

… the main issue is the sheer silliness of Europe’s asking for foreign money.  Any net increase in foreign capital inflows to Europe must be matched by a deterioration in Europe’s trade balance.  This will probably occur through a strengthening of the euro against the dollar.  And given weak domestic European demand, this means that either Europeans will buy from foreign manufacturers what they would have bought from European manufacturers, or it means Europe will export less.  Europe, in other words, is trading medium-term growth and employment for short-term financing for borrowers that should not be increasing their debt levels.

This is absurd.  Europe needs growth, not capital, and importing capital means exporting demand, which is now the world’s most valuable resource.  Increasing unemployment cannot possibly be the solution for Europe – especially when Spain just announced yesterday that unemployment was up to 21.5%.

via China Financial Markets » Germany must do it, not China.

Twitter Digest: 2011-11-07

  • Entertainingly digressive Geoff Dyer review of new Martin Amis biography – http://t.co/3kuFVTID #
  • "Does it mean anything he is wearing a hat?" "I think his ears are cold." #TodayinPenetratingNYCMarathonCommentary #
  • We're so screwed MT @Bill_Gross: When Justin Bieber says "Night Girls" 29,612 of them reply! That's 0.2% reply rate on 14,143,871 followers #
  • Edward Chancellor: Germany’s eurozone trilemma – http://t.co/s5ae5RAd #
  • NYC Marathon runners abducted by aliens along Verrazano Bridge – http://t.co/rK7hjnZW /via kathrynschulz #
  • Evans-Pritchard: Europe's rescue fiasco leaves Italy defenceless – http://t.co/ZoAPDGWt #
  • Disqualifying behavior RT @emilychangtv: My bizarre encounter with Andrew Mason and other Groupon execs in Times Square http://t.co/6N1zmV1s #
  • Made ginger five-spice salmon tonight with spinach & garlic salad. I amaze me with my cooking skillz. #
  • Attempted commodity theft of bronze statue of Ronald Reagan thwarted. Insert joke here _________. http://t.co/y2QxEG02 #
  • Weeks after hard-drive makers' stocks crushed, NYT perks up and notices a problem – http://t.co/9LJ5w3Fp #
  • Long load time, but totally^2 worth it: Mining powder at Retallack BC – http://t.co/dBZaarTN /via @ski_pdx #
  • As much as I would life to continue to lay waste to nonsensical tweets tonight, I have offspring to bathe. You lovely kids are on your own. #

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Best Buy: The Bulliish Case?

I’ll preface this comment by saying that I’ve been (unprofitably) short Best Buy for a few months now, so …. I’m interested to see the retailer’s moves today. I have a general thesis that downbound companies go through multiple phases, analogous to the stages of grief when dying. Late on this list is “Doing dubious acquisitions”, and it strikes me that Best Buy has reached that point with its purchase today.

I am, however, perfectly happy to be convinced I have this all wrong. What is the strongest case for continued Best Buy dominance going forward? Is there a role for a big box retailer in consumer electronics in a world of Amazon, Pricegrabber, NewEgg, et al? I’m genuinely curious.

I’ll start things off: I haven’t purchased anything in an bricks-and-mortar electronics retailer in at least three years, and maybe longer. I have popped my head in, mostly to a) use the restrooms, oe b) treat the store as a showroom for things I was planning to buy online.

The Unanticipated Uses of Technology

From a Paris Review interview with writer William Gibson:

The strongest impacts of an emergent technology are always unanticipated. You can’t know what people are going to do until they get their hands on it and start using it on a daily basis, using it to make a buck and u­sing it for criminal purposes and all the different things that people do. The people who invented pagers, for instance, never imagined that they would change the shape of urban drug dealing all over the world. But pagers so completely changed drug dealing that they ultimately resulted in pay phones being removed from cities as part of a strategy to prevent them from becoming illicit drug markets. We’re increasingly aware that our society is driven by these unpredictable uses we find for the products of our imagination.

via Paris Review – The Art of Fiction No. 211, William Gibson.

Urban Dictionary: Ring Rage

I know this feeling well:

Ring Rage
That feeling you get when your iPhone rings from someone actually “calling” you.

via Urban Dictionary: Ring Rage.

Twitter Digest: 2011-11-06

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Market Sentiment Bubbleometer

A black box, but cute market sentiment “bubbleometer”:

Twitter Digest: 2011-11-05

  • Goldman already profitability facilitating other side of GRPN: Lending at high negative rate to short-sellers. Such pirates. #
  • Apparently people misunderstood my earlier Goldman/Groupon shorting tweet. I'm amused by it, not angered. #
  • College students interested in data and equity markets? The Tableau BI Competition http://t.co/2fUCR4dc #
  • In San Diego terms, went for freezing cold & rainy trail run this morning. Summit looked roughly like this http://t.co/uJkcRfeO Loved it. #
  • "Professor or Hobo?" quiz. I flunked. – http://t.co/60SY0q3E /via @kathrynschulz #
  • Reviewing the new and very large Murakami novel, by @kathrynschulz http://t.co/DHMyMwum #
  • I'm likely last to see this, but …. Halloween or Williamsburg – http://t.co/liOaO46Z /via @cltrom #
  • Did Groupon go public yet? I hadn't heard anything. #
  • Apparently Groupon hasn't even filed an S-1 yet. Wonder what company I was thinking of that was set to IPO. #
  • 'nuff snowy said – http://t.co/GLI16PUF #
  • Has anyone seen this new Chicago company, Group-On? I signed up, but unsubscribed after getting emailed pedicure offer. #
  • Great tip! RT @macjay: @pkedrosky If you want better pedicure offers, try this new search engine called Goo-gal. 😉 #
  • RT @jonlabes: Have your voice used in "The Dark Knight Rises" http://t.co/QoxUpXrd #
  • Assuming present trends hold, by August 12, 2013, around 10am, the most popular IPhone app will be one to share photosharing apps. #
  • About time. RT @paidContent: Yahoo Shareholder Third Point Demands Yang Leave Board, Wants Two Seats http://t.co/mINMlVCM #
  • Papandreou made it thru Greece non-confidence vote tonight. Isn't party majority two, not three though? #
  • Thanks. RT @JasonDMoncrieff: @pkedrosky two independents voted yes #
  • Mammoth Dreams, the Story of Dave McCoy – trailer http://t.co/UnYNyKX3 #
  • A friend of a friend sends this from Whistler, where grooming is underway this evening – http://t.co/27NphFad #

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