Grammar

Business professionals occasionally gripe that college graduates are unable to write correctly. According to the article, a contributing factor is that many college professors often don’t edit papers for grammatical accuracy, only reading to make sure the student grasps the concept and meets the requirements, and grading accordingly.

Many faculty members are content merely to jot down a brief comment or two about a paper and hardly any go through a paper line by line to correct writing mistakes. Sperber explains that they “justify their indifference to dreadful student writing by saying that when reading a paper, they mainly want to ascertain whether the student understands the ideas in the course…. Content alone matters, not how well the student has expressed it.”

In the student’s defense, the rules of grammar – of which where are hundreds or thousands, depending on your source – can be subtle, and professional editors can charge hundreds or even thousands of dollars to proofread a single manuscript. It’s not feasible for a professor to proofread line-by-line hundreds of 20-50 page papers and expect to return the papers in a timely manner without it consuming all available time needed for other commitments such as teaching and researching. And if the student has to re-submit and the teacher has to re-edit, the time involved is doubled.

Then there is the composed/comprised Wikipedia edit storm, the incorrect use of begging the question – and much more. I’m sure everyone has made one of these mistakes at least once. I know I have.

As someone who has done writing and some coding, certain aspects grammar and writing could be harder than coding because unlike in coding there is often no obvious indication when your grammar is wrong, besides the reader being annoyed or confused. In coding, for example, if you have a misplaced character or some sort of mistake, the program will render incorrectly and the error probably will be obvious to you. Or the error will be hidden, but only visible to someone who views the source code. Grammatical errors, on the other hand, are visible to the world to see, and oftentimes a sentence will sound correct when you read it in your mind, but still be incorrect.

Why Bay Area/Silicon Valley Real Estate Keeps Going Up

Atherton has the highest median property value of any region in America, with Menlo Park and Palo Alto not far behind. The entire Bay Area real estate market has been white-hot since 2012, coinciding with the huge public offerings of Facebook and Twitter and the 40+ percent gains in the S&P 500, and shows no sign of cooling. Inflation-adjusted prices will keep rising for years, even decades, to come. There won’t be another 2007-09, at least not in your lifetime (unless you’re like 5-years old and reading this blog). Why is Bay Area real estate doing so well?

1. Silicon Valley’s meritocracy rewards high-IQ and the best and brightest more so than anywhere else in America, making Silicon Valley attractive to tech investors and tech entrepreneurs. Anyone with a good idea and some coding can become a millionaire overnight and a billionaire within a couple years. Coders strait out of college, or even without college, can make a solid six-figure income – even tens of millions upon the company going public or being acquired, and a lot of this money finds its way into the local real estate market.

2. Rich, high-IQ foreigners need somewhere to put their fortunes, and the Bay Area real estate market offers among the best combination of rate of return and stability.

3. Stanford is a magnet for intellectualism, making the entire region more valuable. There is a positive correlation between the IQ of residents and real estate prices of said region.

4. Enormous capital circulating in that region from foreigners and newly minted millionaires & billionaires in the web 2.0 boom & stock market boom. It’s a like a free market feeding frenzy there, of people becoming instantly wealthy despite the left insisting that the American dream is dead and America is in decline.

5. America still center of the universe, and Silicon Valley is the center of America, with Manhattan a close second. Everything that is important in the world is going on there. Tesla, Google, Facebook, Snapchat, Uber, Apple, etc – all in Silicon Valley.

6. America is an economic safe haven, especially since 2008 and 2013. Other countries are rife with a combination of either inflation, stagnation, deflation, stagnation and corruption – America has none of that. Real GDP growth of 2-3% may not seem great, but it beats all other g-8 nations.

7. No currency risk. Adjusting for the strength of the US dollar, US real estate has outperformed pretty much all other countries, with Bay Area real estate posting among the highest returns. Other countries may have seen bigger percentage gains in their real estate prices – but when adjusting for the post-2011 strength in the US dollar, the results are actually inferior. It doesn’t do much good if real estate is rising 50%, but your country’s currency falls 50% against the dollar. The gains cancel out. But gains in American real estate are in dollars, so there is no currency risk. People with homes in the Bay area saw a net-worth gain of 20-40% in a 2-year period between 2012-2014 as other currencies plunged. Had you kept your money in Euros, for example, you would have lost 40% vs. a gain of 40%.

Here are some of those Atherton homes for sale, if you got a couple million lying around. I actually think homes in the $1-5 million range are better investments than the super-expensive ones since cheaper homes are easier to sell and prices are easier to track.

Daredevil Stories

I am dubbing a new phrase, Daredevil Stories, to describe stories of people who apparently have a disability but somehow not only overcome the disability – but become substantially better than average. The name comes from a comic book in which the superhero Daredevil is blind but has better perception than sighted people. Normally, blind people hobble around with an ungainly walking stick, vulnerable to their surroundings, but Daredevil is as agile as a cat, having transcended his disability. You see a lot of Daredevil stories online, especially on sites like Reddit, describing how someone who seems to have a cognitive or learning disability early in life and against all odds becomes a genius (or is already a genius).It’s like, wow, not only did you not talk until 5 years old, but then ‘boom’ you’re a genius. Here’re an example from a blogger who transformed from a late-talker in special education classes to an academic stuperstar.

The original post about late talking;

I therefore have something in common with these famous physicists. I didn’t learn to speak until I was well past my third birthday, as my mum never tires of reminding me. In fact, as I have blogged about before, I was a very slow developer in other ways and when I started school was immediately earmarked as an educational basket case.

And his transformation. It’s kinda long, so I excepted the most relevant passages:

After a time I had caught up with reading in class and eventually managed to read just about every book the School had to offer, including the Diaries of Samuel Pepys

..and scores well enough to get a scholarship to an exclusive private school

In 1974 I took the entrance examination at eleven-plus for the Royal Grammar School in Jesmond and was recommended by the Governors for the award of a scholarship. This was effectively a private school but the City Council paid the fees for a limited number of pupils who did well in the entrance examination.

Pretty interesting…makes me wish I had a special story

The problem with Daredevil stories is that they are anecdotal and in isolation are of limited use for scientific inquiry. They are vulnerable to selection and confirmation biases. People want to seek out the ‘good’ traits in people who talk late or have a learning disability, or only people who are Daredevils are inclined to share their stories, resulting in lots of Daredevil stories and little else. As for late-talking due to genuine mental slowness, without any hidden gifts or talents, – you almost never hear those stories online. Who would have the courage to admit being dull, especially in a pop culture and economy where intelligence is more valued than ever? But they are out there – lots of late-talkers with no special skills. And dyslexics who not only read slow and confuse letters, but are kinda slow and confused at everything else, too. Not the super-genius dyslexics you read about.

Awstats is Awful

Believe it or not, I never checked the traffic of this site until only a few weeks ago. My plan to was write as much and needed and not check the stats after I had finished most of it, which is where it’s at now. Upon first glance, the traffic looks good, at 5000 uniques a month and 300 visitors a day

But – I noticed a few peculiarities: First, about 1/2 of the ‘pages’ are coming from my own IP and China. I only load this site a few times a day (to write a post and check the post). How could I possibly generate a quarter of all the page requests? That makes no sense.

Awstats, a server based traffic monitoring service included in cpanel hosting plans, dramatically inflates traffic. It’s not even close. Awstats should be used if you want to unscrupulously serve up inflated traffic stats to clients and customers or to impress people, but Awstats is in no way representative of actual human traffic. Awstats must be counting bots, spam requests and spiders as unique visitors, as well as counting JavaScript loads as page views, too. That means if you have a script-intensive page (as most WordPress sites are) each external JavaScript request counts as a hit/visitor/whatever within the single page load.

The problem is traffic is low, the niche (HBD,IQ, etc) is saturated, the news cycle is kinda slow, and pretty much everything of importance has been discussed on other blogs by professionals who write better and have connections.

On the other hand, some ‘for-profit’ sites I had running got 52 million pageviews and 27 million uniques in a 7-month period in 2010-2011. If converted into awstats it would be multiplied by a factor of 5-10.

For comparison voxday, one of the most popular blogs, gets 400k visits a month – which would still take 7-10 years to equal just seven months of some crappy sites I had running. No comparison..blogging loses. It’s fun writing the articles and all, but considering the time and effort blogging is probably the worst way possible for an average person to make money. Writing fiction is close second. (Again, this is for average people. If you are a genius, success in writing fiction is possible) Even those fitness blogs that you see everywhere hardly make a profit after factoring in costs. How-to guides and salespages are far more lucrative. When I used to sell books and guides, the idea was to keep costs as low as possible and optimize the ad copy. I would write a 50 page book on a financial topic, such as strategies to make money in the stock market, and sell it for $250-500 a copy on my own webpage (not Amazon).

The Fed May Never Raise Interest Rates Again

The fed may never raise rates again:

Horwitz: ‘The Fed may never raise rates again’

I hope he’s right. The bad jobs number last week increases the odds rates will remain low, and the fed has no pressing reason to raise rates, anyway. The bond market isn’t signaling inflation and neither is the economic data. There’s still insatiable demand for low yielding US debt from foreign countries and institutions. The race to the bottom and global flight to safety is keeping inflation low, even as US economic growth is steady and profits & earnings and consumer spending keeps rising. There’s no immutable law that says the fed must raise rates, or that if the fed does raise rates that they must raise them all the way to 3%-5. They could stop after a single rate quarter point.

Idiot of the day: Druckenmiller: This could end ‘very badly’

Cry me a river…Since 2009, I’ve been reading the same doom and gloom crap about how the fed has ‘painted itself into a corner’…and yet the fed always finds a way to defy the doomsayers, and stocks and bonds keep going up. If you bet against the smart policy makers, the US consumer, high-IQ, technology, and web 2.0, you will fail. That’s a guarantee. You may make money briefly, like in 2001 or in 2008, but the market always comes roaring back. Bonds fall a bit and the left calls hyperinflation, and then all of a sudden at the drop of a hat bonds rip higher, leaving the left dazed and confused as to what just happened. There was supposed to be a inflation crisis and bond crisis – how did the bond market market just rally so hard and so quick? Because you bet against the best and the brightest, and you failed – predictably so. You bet against America and you lost, again. In 2009, the left bet against America, anticipating that the financial problem would user a ‘post-America’ era and a permanent ‘downshift’ in wealth creation, technological innovation and wealth creation – similar to what happened to Japan in the 90’s.

It’s time to hold these libs accountable for being wrong all the time. We went after Rolling Stone, and justly so, and now let’s focus our attention to the charlatans who keep predicting the same doom and gloom crap and being wrong all the time, trying to scare people into selling their stocks too soon and buying bad investments like foreign currencies. In 2010, the human bullhorn Peter Schiff said to buy the Euro because the dollar would collapse. LOL what an idiot, and I don’t think he ever repudiated this position despite being so obviously wrong.

So could it end badly? Theoretically, anything is possible. But if history is any guide, no.

The left said in 2013 that the end of QE would cause inflation and a bond & market market crash. Nope. The exact opposite happened.

So why was the left so wrong? Because they don’t understand economics, nor do they understand how markets react to news. If the market were worried about the end QE hurting growth, it would be reflected in the stock market in the form of lower prices, but the S&P 500 has rallied 30% since the taper was announced, rendering such fears unfounded.

I explain in detail here

See, no fed conspiracies; just strong fundamentals. Yes, QE did help to some degree, but it’s hardly the only cause. QE isn’t the reason why Apple made $18 billion profit in a single a quarter, or why Facebook went from just another social network to the 2nd biggest internet property in the world, second only to Google. The PE ratio of the S&P 500 is still just 17. For valuations to rise to the levels last seen during the peak in 2007, the S&P 500 could rise as high as 2,500 – and that is assuming earnings are flat; if earnings rise, stock prices can rise much higher.

Profit and stock prices rising together: eveidence that it’s fundamentals that are driving this bull market, not QE.

Continued:

I sometimes get into debates with conspiracy nuts, well-intentioned but misinformed people who believe the fed’s QE program is the only reason for stocks going up. This is countered by the fact that despite the fed tapering almost 2 years ago and finally ending QE a year ago, stocks have actually risen 30%, which shouldn’t have happened if QE were entirely the cause of this rally. The left wants it both ways – they want to call QE a failure, but also predict it will cause hyperinflation. QE was a success by boosting confidence and asset prices, and that is good enough for me. Libs who wanted more job creation: too bad. Stocks are surging because the fundamentals of the US economy as measured by exports, consumer spending, profits & earnings keep being better than ever. Large cap tech companies like Apple, Microsoft, Google and Facebook are flooded with cash. The banks are sitting on the QE money due to individuals and businesses not borrowing, so QE isn’t even inflating the economy anyway. Treasury yields are still rock bottom despite the unending doom and gloom predictions of high inflation, and the dollar is rallying to multi-year highs. Yes, to some extent QE contributed to the bull market, but it’s hardly the only cause.

In the sceme of things, QE is just an asset transfer. It’s not this magical elixir that the economy is somehow dependent on, which is how the left interprets QE. In reality, it’s like a last ditch effort after everything else has been done, that at best is a small stimulant.

Reddit Exposes Salon.com Racial Hypocrisy

It’s no surprise the left, in their war on success and achievement, is deferential to low-achieving minorities while at the same time depreciative of high-achieving minorities such as Indians and Asians.

At CalTech, with probably the highest entrance standards in the US, and no affirmative action: Asians 40%, whites 29%, Hispanics 10%, and blacks 1.7%. In the elite high schools of New York, the same pattern holds.

The left welfare hates Silicon Valley’s tech elite and the cognitive elite of Caltech and MIT. The left wants the the entire country to become a low-IQ cesspool like Detroit, where everyone is equally poor and dumb and no one is allowed to be exceptional.

As evidence off society repudiating the disingenuous SJW scum, the millennials on Reddit are calling the left out on their hypocrisy, with the most up-voted comments pertaining to a recent dog-ear flap about the oh-so-racially-tolerant Salon.com confusing ‘Silicon Valley’ Kumail Nanjiani with ‘Big Bang’s’ Kunal Nayyar.

SJWs, you’re losing. And there’s nothing you can do about it.

Foreigners Keep Buying US Debt – And it Makes the Left Mad

The left whines about foreigners buying US debt, refusing to buy into the ‘we are doomed’ leftist delusions. But the question is, where else should foreigners put their money? Since 2011 the US dollar, the US stock market, and treasury bonds have outperformed their respective global peers. Since 2011, The dollar is up 30-100% against all major foreign currencies.

Demand for US debt keeps growing, even as the left insists America is in decline:

If you parked your money in Euros in early 2011 and converted it back into dollars today, you would have 40% less dollars. The S&P 500 has also outperformed global indexes by a considerable margin, and treasury yields keep falling. Commodities have plunged, with oil down 50% in just the past year. Metals are too volatile, with gold and silver down over 30% since 2011. Thus, the dollar is one of the best ‘store of value’ for foreigners to park their money, and this demonstrable evidence of American exceptionalism makes the left livid. They hate seeing these high-IQ, successful foreigners rebuke the liberals who say America is in decline, corrupt, etc. These foreigners aren’t deterred by wealth inequality or the debt being too high. In choosing America, these foreigners are giving the libs the finger, entrusting their capital with America and its best and brightest who rise to the occasion again and again. And the doom and gloomers can keep pounding sand, waiting for the crisis and post-America era that will never come.

Obsession With Logical Fallacies

Today’s smartest generation of atheists don’t cite passages from the Bible. They cite each other’s logical fallacies, from the ‘Bible’ of Logical Fallacies. The attention brought to Logical Fallacies has become a ‘religion’ unto itself. You can win online arguments by calling out your opponent’s logical fallacy, without having to actually argue anything. It’s like ‘straw man’ …you lose. Or ‘reductio ad absurdum’…I sound smart for using Latin, and you lose. These fallacies are valid and often encountered in arguments, it’s just funny the recent obsession with them, as if the act of citing the fallacy in itself constitutes a counterargument.

Misconceptions About Algorithmic/High Frequency Trading

TLDR version: Algorithmic trading doesn’t cause market crashes, fear does.

The left keeps spreading the myth that high frequency trading/algorithmic trading is responsible for crashes when in fact there are many glaring holes in the anti-HFT argument. If the market were rigged, as the left insists it is, and you knew how it was rigged, couldn’t you just front-run the riggers and make money at their expense? If the fed is propping up the market market with QE, why not just buy bonds, knowing that you cannot lose with the fed having your back? Or maybe short bonds, knowing that the fed has ended QE? You can’t fail – oh wait – bonds have surged since the fed ended QE. But we cannot let facts and evidence get in the way the left’s unfounded belief that the market is rigged.

The absence of computers and trading algorithms didn’t prevent the many crashes and panics that occurred in the 1800’s and 1900’s. The crash of 1929, half a century before the development of computerized trading, saw the US stock market lose 20% of its value in just two days. It always boils down to greed and fear. Greed makes markets rise quickly. Fear makes them fall quickly. The left assumes you can only have high-frequency selling (in an intellectually dishonest manner, they only focus on the declines), but high-frequency buying also occurs although that seldom gets as much media attention as selling.

The left assumes high frequency traders try to create a feedback loop of panic selling, of high frequency traders piling on each other and forcing the market lower for their own profit. But this is not a good strategy. Consider a thought experiment where a group of high frequency traders conspire to short enough of the S&P 500 to bring the price from $100 to $99 (these are just made-up numbers). The average profit is .5% (some shorted at the top, some at the bottom). But because this decline was artificial and unrelated to news or fundamentals, there is no reason why it should stay that way. So then human traders see the sudden unjustified selling and pounce the opportunity to buy the depressed stock, which immediately rallies back to $100. The humans now have an average profit of .5% and the HFTs have a loss of .5%. The humans could fool the HFTs into shorting stock at a loss, by initially shorting to make the market fall a little (like .1% or .10$) to lure to the HFTs pile on and bring it down 1% (to $99), in which case the humans will intercede to bid it back up to $100 and repeat ad infinitum. Thus, feedback lops are unprofitable unless the market doesn’t bounce back or if the non-HFTs add to the selling. But if feedback loops were uncontrollable, the market would go to zero at the slightest provocation. Eventually, fundamentals step-in and provide a floor. No, you cannot have IBM fall from $160 to $4 (and stay at $4) when nothing has fundamentally changed.

There is mathematical argument for how HFT can make the market more stable. More trading volume means more stability and less volatility.

The May 6, 2010 flash crash, in which the DJIA (Dow Jones Industrial Average) almost fell 1,000 points that day, is thought to have been exasperated by HFT. Even if this were true, it was probably an unprofitable day for the HFTs because while the DJIA was at once point down 1,000 points, it ended the day only down 360 points, meaning that a lot of the short positions were covered at a loss on the way back up. Second, despite the media attention they generate, panics are still very rare, but were quite common in the late 90’s – a decade before HFT became a household word. Otherwise, the market has been remarkably stable; since 2011, there has yet to even be a 10% correction.

What high frequency trading does is it makes the market more efficient and less predictable (in the short term). It means that the market , through daily the ebbs and flows, is constantly adjusting to reflect new data and probabilities. You have an event with a theoretical price impact of $X and a probability of Y and the product $XY tells you how the market reacts. And this is done millions of times a day, so the price that you see is the product of a very large computerized ‘committee’ that is trying to determine the ‘right’ price, which is the very opposite of the clandestine ‘rigged casino’ that the left would have you believe Wall St. is. And these HFTs are not colluding against average retail investors such as you and me, but competing with each other. In April 2013 the S&P 500 briefly fell 1% on report of explosions in the White House, which was immediately revealed to be a hoax. The market’s initial reaction was based on the probability of the Tweet being authentic multiplied by the hypothetical economic impact if it were real, the result being an immediate 1% decline. It’s not that the HFTs are trying to ‘rig’ the market, they are calibrating the market to reflect the latest information, and for a brief moment America was supposedly under attack, to reflected in stock prices. After it was debunked, the probability became zero and the market immediately corrected itself back to the pre-hoax price. As shown by the thought experiment above, the high frequency traders who initially brought the market lower lost money in the ordeal.

IQ Anxieties

There is a debate on Scott’s blog about the ‘Growth Mindset’, that boils down to nature vs. nurture. Noah posts a rebuttal, accusing Scott of ‘derp’.

As long as IQ plays an increasingly important role in our increasingly competitive, winner-take-all economy, this issue will remain controversial. IQ is our new caste system, and these feel-good platitudes about practice and ‘hard work’ don’t allay people’s well-founded anxieties on the subject, that maybe some people by virtue of genes are intrinsically better than others.

As for practice, I believe practice allows one to live to their cognitive potential – but not exceed it. With a lot of practice, a person with an IQ of 130 can become a decent physicist, but not someone with an IQ of 90.

Second, in the talent vs. nurture wars, people’s positions on the issue depend on the said skill, as I explain here. People are more open to the idea of nature superseding nurture if the involved skills aren’t intellectual, such as athletic ability, versus an intellectual skills such as academic achievement, in which case people want to believe practice is more important than biology.

It’s understandable why people feel this way when you consider how smart people, whether through higher wages, stock market & real estate gains and web 2.0, have reaped most of the post-2008 economic prosperity. IQ has become a proxy not only for self-worth, but how important society perceives you to be – in that smart people earn more money and are more influential in the national debate, and that’s society’s way of saying those people are move important. That’s a very un-egalitarian idea that goes against what many are taught in school, by our family or in Church, that we are are all important, valuable people; no, some people are born ‘better’ than others, and these people tend to rise to the top.

Athletes do make a lot of money, but there are far fewer professional athletes than engineers. You probably only need a 1-2SD IQ (115-130) to become an engineer, but you need 5-SD physical ability (~1/10000) talent to play professional sports. People think it’s easier or more attainable to learn engineering than play professional baseball, and this true, but both require genetic endowments (IQ, athletic ability).