Monthly Archives: June 2016

On Writing

These two stories are going viral:

13 Questions to Ask Before Submitting to a Literary Journal

There Is No Handbook for Being a Writer

Too many people want writing ‘hacks’ and ‘tips’, without understanding that writing is a market, which means that for writing to be read, it typically has to meet some sort of demand. Famous people can create their own markets, but unknowns have to latch onto existing ones. There’s too much advice that extols the virtues of writing for the sake of writing (such as boosting word counts, writing more, etc.), while ignoring the second half of the equation: the reader, and how the writer intends to make his writing read.

Long-form seems to be very popular online these days. Anyone can hammer out a 500-word essay, but it takes 3,000-5,000 words or more to stand out. Long-form may be the best approach right now for writers hoping to gain visibility, as research shows long-form articles are more likely to go viral:

An exceptionally well-written long-form article can help cement your reputation as an expert in a field.

Related: Internet Journalism in a Post-2013 Era: Writing Articles that Go Viral

There is also evidence long-from articles rank better in Google than shorter articles, probably due to long articles being shared more.

Once you build a brand with blogging (writing long-form), you can begin selling books through self-publishing. Those who enjoy your writing in 5,000-word chunks will be more inclined pay to read your 50,000-word book.

For better or worse, IQ and innate ability plays a role, too. If your score on the verbal part of the SAT and or GRE was average, you should probably avoid literary writing or traditionally-published fiction (instead, use Amazon or write non-fiction). Published literary fiction requires a unique talent very few have. Even published genre fiction such as that of Michael Crichton and Stephen King requires a type of talent few possess.

You probably cannot go into writing for the money, and the odds of success as measured by sales and recognition are slim. As I explain in Pencil Pushers and the Miracle of Capitalism, writing pays very little relative to the amount of talent and effort required to succeed at it. You need to be in the top 1% skill and probably IQ to make the same amount of money as a mediocre 9-5 worker who is in the 50th percentile of IQ.

It’s vastly easier to make $40k a year driving a truck than making $400 selling your writing to a magazine or a journal, yet too many people do the latter because they seek ‘validation’ in having their name and ‘work’ printed.

To recap: writing for the sake of writing is not a virtue in and of itself, and is unlikely to lead to success; focus on understanding the type of writing people want to read. Consider writing long-form articles to build your brand. Understand your skills, strengths, and limitations. And don’t initially expect to make a lot of money relative to the amount of effort you put in.


Terry Pratchett, IQ, Practice, and Mastery
So much for that 10,000 hour rule

Re: Kids can’t use computers

From 2013: Kids can’t use computers… and this is why it should worry you

Blogger and teacher Marc Scott laments the growing epidemic of ‘computer illiteracy’, with some anecdotal examples.

The truth is, kids can’t use general purpose computers, and neither can most of the adults I know. There’s a narrow range of individuals whom, at school, I consider technically savvy. These are roughly the thirty to fifty year-olds that have owned a computer for much of their adult lives. There are, of course, exceptions amongst the staff and students. There are always one or two kids in every cohort that have already picked up programming or web development or can strip a computer down to the bare bones, replace a motherboard, and reinstall an operating system.

Not really knowing how to use a computer is deemed acceptable if you’re twenty-five or over. It’s something that some people are even perversely proud of, but the prevailing wisdom is that all under eighteens are technical wizards, and this is simply not true. They can use some software, particularly web-apps. They know how to use Facebook and Twitter. They can use YouTube and Pinterest. They even know how to use Word and PowerPoint and Excel. Ask them to reinstall an operating system and they’re lost. Ask them to upgrade their hard-drive or their RAM and they break out in a cold sweat. Ask them what https means and why it is important and they’ll look at you as if you’re speaking Klingon.

Marc is from the UK, which ranks about the same as the US in technological literacy, which below South Korea and the Nordic countries:

Surprisingly, in spite of its reputation as being technologically advanced, Japan has the largest percentage of ‘illiterates’ of all countries.

He’s maybe being too hard though. ‘Computer literacy’ and ‘knowing how to use technology’ are very broad concepts, and understanding how a computer or a website works vs. using a computer or a website are, of course, very distinct. Computers and software are very complicated; there’re thousands of components involved with either, which is a lot for a young person to learn. The problem may have more to do with and inability to debug hardware and software, than an inability to use a computer. Because computers and software are so complicated, with thousands of things that can go wrong, debugging is an invaluable skill. Instead of requiring young people anticipate and fix every conceivable problem (which is impossible), instead teach them how to find solutions to problems, such as by teaching them how to perform effective Google searches, how to read a tutorial, and how to to perform a search of driver components, etc. Learning how to find solutions will provide them with the means to fix most problems.

Just a couple weeks ago I had a problem with the laptop battery: it would not charge despite plugging it in. After much Googling, I learned that I had to ‘recalibrate’ the battery, and to do this I had to follow a precise set of instructions which included deleting some files and removing the battery. Without the tutorial and understanding how to read it, I would have never solved the problem on my own, despite my many years using computers.

But also, it’s not that kids can’t use computers well…they also can’t do many other things well…after all, they are kids. They probably need to spend many more years using computers before they will get better.

A bloc unified against ‘low information’

Here we see Land linking to Tyler’s article, again, despite Tyler being pro-immigration, pro-open borders, and anti-Brexit. But Tyler is not the only one with these views. Many other liberals share them too, but what makes Tyler special. The Tyler-NRx-rationality diaspora seemed confusing but then I kinda put it all together, as a bloc unified against ‘low information’, as well as opposing direct democracy in favor of something more autocratic or oligarchical, with some utilitarian-based policy. For NRx, it’s a ‘right-wing’ variant of elitism; for neoliberals like Tyler, and rationalists, it’s a more ‘left-wing’ variant. This is discussed in more detail in the Intellectual Solvent series: 1, 2, and 3.

Related: Entering the ‘Grey Zone’

Nicholas Nassim Taleb Becomes Self-Aware

Nicholas Nassim Tooleb holds a mirror to himself for some much needed self-reflection:

Intellectual Yet Idiot: semi-erudite bureaucrat who thinks he is an erudite; pathologizes others for doing things he doesn’t understand not realizing it is his understanding that may be limited; imparts normative ideas to others: thinks people should act according to their best interests *and* he knows their interests, particularly if they are uneducated “red necks” or English non-crisp-vowel class.
More socially: subscribes to the New Yorker; never curses on twitter; speaks of “equality of races” and “economic equality” but never went out drinking with a minority cab driver; has considered voting for Tony Blair; has attended more than 1 TEDx talks and watched more than 2 TED talks; will vote for Hillary Monsanto-Malmaison because she seems electable; has The Black Swan on his shelves but mistakes absence of evidence for evidence of absence; is member of a club to get traveling privileges; if social scientist uses statistics without knowing how they are derived; when in the UK goes to literary festivals; drinks red wine with steak (never white); used to believe that fat was harmful and has now completely reversed; takes statins because his doctor told him so; fails to understand ergodicity and when explained forgets about it soon later; doesn’t use Yiddish words; studies grammar before speaking a language; has a cousin who worked with someone who knows the Queen; has never read Frederic Dard, Michael Oakeshot, John Gray, or Joseph De Maistre; has never gotten drunk with Russians and went breaking glasses; doesn’t know the difference between Hecate and Hecuba; doesn’t know that there is no difference between “pseudointellectual” and “intellectual”; has mentioned quantum mechanics at least twice in the past 5 years; knows at any point in time what his words or actions are doing to his reputation.
But a much easier marker: doesn’t deadlift.

The first step in not being a semi-intellectual blowhard is to recognize you are one, so this I think is an improvement on Taleb’s part, in recognizing his own problem.

has mentioned quantum mechanics at least twice in the past 5 years

I guess that would include most physicists, but again, Taleb is smarter than them, becozz black swans…

Intellectual Yet Idiot: semi-erudite bureaucrat who thinks he is an erudite

…and also creates strawmen and misconstructions of experts, bullies experts and scientists who are smarter and or more knowledgeable than him, sells overpriced and useless ‘mini certificates’, and is thin-skinned and cannot take criticism.

Here’s another example of Tooleb pseudo-intellectual sophistry:

Did it ever occur to him that it’s possible to be both worthy of praise and be praised?

Here is Taleb showing his liberal colors again, retweeting in approval something about GMOs and Bernie Sanders, yet many on the ‘alt right’ think he (Taleb) is one of them:

Michael Oakeshot, John Gray, or Joseph De Maistre;

In regard to Joseph de Maistre, an important counter-enlightenment thinker:

Maistre, considered by Masseau and Didier[6] to have been a key figure of what they termed as the Counter-Enlightenment, saw monarchy both as a divinely sanctioned institution and as the only stable form of government.[7] He called for the restoration of the House of Bourbon to the throne of France and argued that the Pope should have ultimate authority in temporal matters. Maistre also claimed that it was the rationalist rejection of Christianity which was directly responsible for the disorder and bloodshed which followed the French Revolution of 1789.[8][9]

Agree with this part:

speaks of “equality of races” and “economic equality”

As someone how identifies with NRx, I agree to some extent with this, but an augment against democracy, racial blindness, welfare liberalism, and egalitarianism, is not necessarily an endorsement of an absolutist Catholic monarchy or an endorsement of Taleb. Some (such as myself) favor something different (maybe Protestantism, secession, turning back the dial to before the 60′s, or a non-theistic techno-oligarchy of sorts), but find common ground in opposing democracy and egalitarianism. It’s possible to have technological progress, while eschewing democracy, as in the case of Thiel and others. But one problem I have with Taleb, and to some extent with NRx and the ‘alt right’, is the tendency to advocate populist ideas (such as being ‘anti-fed’, anti-establishment, anti-academia, anti-centralization, anti-Wall St., anti-globalization, pro-Brexit, etc.) while being anti-democracy and advocating elitism. It’s kinda like copying the Sanders/OWS economic platform, the Ron Paul foreign policy platform, and calling yourself ‘right-wing’ or elitist. You cannot have it both ways. Or maybe the hope is that the left’s ‘version’ of elitism will be replaced by a right-wing version of elitism, or something like that. Another problem with Catholicism is whole the ‘sanctity of life’ thing, which proscribes programs that could be beneficial like eugenics.

I lean neoconservative on economics and foreign policy, while opposing things like democracy, egalitarianism, and feminism. Neoconservatism is shamelessly elitist, logically consistent, consequentialist, and right-wing. The neocon brand was hurt by ‘cuckservative’ and the aftermath of the Bush administration, but many neocons and ‘alt right’ agree on the threat to civilization posed by Islam, for example.

Difficulty of NRx Cohesion

Why is it so hard for NRx to be cohesive, on the same page?

This is the subreddit that should have existed all along. Nemester is like the archetypical arrogant forum moderator who abuses his power and has no self awareness.
I feel personally embarrassed having read that email exchange and discovering that his most sincere problem that he was willing to go to war with Hestia over was the fact that they refused to obey his completely arbitrary absurd rules concerned text length.
I will also point out that his actions and flipping out at the idea of certain inconsequential rules not being followed are the classic hallmarks of being on the autism spectrum.
Delete this post if you wish mods, because it only feeds the drama, but I had one of my posts auto-removed by the brevity-bot there (it was just a twitter link) because it triggered his minimal character rules. I decided to message him with ‘>implying lack of brevity is a substitute for quality’ and made it be known that he was, in my opinion, an utter fag, for which I received a ban.

“We respect Atavisionary’s work, but found him difficult to work with. We wish him the best in his future endeavors.”
–This is the Official (non-ironic) Position of Hestia Society
I’ll let this comment stand, but mods won’t tolerate any drama escalation here. And certainly no personal attacks on Atavisionary/Nemester.

The problem is there are big intellectual egos at stake, which are prone to clashing. We all want to be right; we all want to be ‘kings’ of our own little intellectual fiefdoms. We don’t want to be subordinate to a higher power or authority, but unfortunately that makes cohesion or organization difficult, if not impossible. The evolution of ideas should bear similarity to biological evolution, with ‘good’ ideas supplanting ‘worse’ ones, but this requires that the ‘worse’ ones at least be voluntarily discarded. For-profit organizations are cohesive because there are common, shared goals, and insubordination is punished, but there is also an incentive to conform and be loyal, both financially and socially: promotion and reminiscences. Major parties like the ‘Democrats’ and ‘Republicans’ also work, despite being non-profit, because they have a lot of rank-and-file members of average IQ that are willing to conform with the agenda, but getting smarter people, where everyone is their own ‘king’, to conform is like herding cats. From the early 80′s up all the way until 2008, when the neocon hegemony imploded, neocons dominated the Republican party, with other variants pushed to the fringe until only much later with the rise of the Tea Party and later, Trump. For Democrats, it’s always been ‘neoliberals’ in charge, with welfare liberals being the minority. In either case, dissent within a large organization isn’t discohesive, because the the ideological majority so overwhelmingly larger than the dissenters that the the dissenters can be easily ignored. NRx, however, is much smaller, which makes it harder to establish an overwhelmingly dominant narrative and or agenda, besides a shared dislike of egalitarianism and democracy. However, there is much disagreement, such as pacifism vs. action, or how billionaire tech libertarians like Peter Thiel, who has expressed criticism of democracy, can possibly be ideologically integrated, or if they should be rejected…Techno-commercialists like Thiel support free markets, technological modernity, and free trade, despite opposing democracy and egalitarianism. NRx has always been more abstract, cerebral, and decentralized than your typical action-based political movement, which is part of it’s appeal to some extent because you get a much higher level of discourse, but as of 2015 has been trying to coalesce into something more closely resembling a ‘movement’, but this is proving difficult, not too surprisingly.

Brexit Happens

Brexit came and went, and the immediate consequences were bad. In overnight trading, hundreds of billions of dollars were lost, as Global markets plunged between 4 percent (United States) to 10 percent (Germany, UK), with billions more projected if Britain enters recession.
Although I agree to some extent with the cause, I disagree with the implementation, and Brexit may cause more problems for Britain than many may have bargained for. An argument against immigration is not necessarily an argument for Brexit.

Before the votes were counted, the bookies posted odds of ‘remain’ winning as high as 70%….how wrong they were, and I was right to not heed the consensus, in my own investing decisions:

On the subject of predictions, as for Brexit, I have no idea haw the vote is going to turn out. The bookies favor ‘remain’ winning, but I’m not so optimistic. Again and again, whether it’s multi-billion dollar funds lagging the S&P 500, billionaire hedge fund manger George Soros in 2013 buying puts in a bull market and losing his investment as the market kept going up, wealthy politicians failing to win (Jeb Bush), or huge companies failing to displace smaller more nimble competitors, more money does not mean smarter money. In many instances, the rich are just as clueless, if not more, as everyone else at many things. But if the S&P 500 falls a lot due to ‘exit’ winning, it will be a great buying opportunity. That I do know with certainty.

Not only bookies, but many commentators also seemed confident about ‘remain’ winning. At one point, as the votes were beginning to be counted, Nigel Farage conceded (prematurely) that ‘remain’ had likely won. The dominant narrative is sometimes wrong.

In anticipation of a bad outcome, I had shorted Germany a couple days earlier, exiting with a modest profit after covering on Friday. I was also long 10-year treasury bonds (which did well after the crash). I bought a weekly S&P 500 ‘put’ contract on Thursday night, as things started to turn south, for a very small amount and sold for a large profit hours later when the markets were down 4%, but I wish I had bought more of them. Overall, ended the day flat.

In agreement with James Altucher, for long-term US investors, Brexit doesn’t mean anything (it may actually be a positive), and I remain optimistic about the US stock market going forward. Brexit will not prevent Facebook and Google from earnings billions of dollars in ad clicks, nor stop people from shopping on Amazon, going to Disneyland, or eating at McDonald’s.

The parallels between ‘exit’, Trump, and the rise of nationalism, have already been covered by the media. Everyone is tired of the ‘status quo’, and seeks a ‘system’ that is different, and these frustrations especially pertain to immigration, whether it’s immigrants coming into America or Muslim immigrants flooding Europe as a consequence of the Syrian Civil War.

Brexit Vote: A Bigger Deal Than the US Presidential Election

The vote still hasn’t happened, yet markets reeling:

German DAX down about 10% in less than two weeks (although it has since recovered a bit)
S&P 500 down 3% from its high made 2 weeks ago
Britain down 9% (it has also recovered a bit)

Did anyone even think of the consequences of trying to recreate Grexit, but with a much bigger economy?

In anticipation of a binary outcome (exit or stay), right now the implied volatility on the weekly options of the S&P 500 is exceedingly high, even higher than before presidential elections. So in other words, according to option implied volatility, the outcome of this vote is deemed to be more important for the US economy than whether Clinton or Trump becomes president, despite all the campaigning, feuding, and media hype.

If this does not scare you a little, it should. Although Britain has many geniuses, many are none too bright. (On message boards you can always tell who is British, because of all the glaring typos and grammatical errors, as well as spelling color as colour, colon as bowel, and mom as mum. Many people mistakenly assume America’s education system is bad, or that Americans are uneducated and unrefined, but Britain, by in large, is worse. Britain’s standard of living, despite the outward opulence of the royal family, is actually quite poor.)

The global economy is already weak and Brexit may make things worse. America will be insulated to a large extent, but it will hurt Germany. Some frame it as an issue about immigration, but Britain doesn’t have to leave in order to fix its immigration and laborer problem. As a sovereign entity, they can defy Merkel if they so choose, without leaving. Merkel needs them to stay, so Britain has a lot of leverage come negotiations.

This is why absolute monarchies or oligarchies are best government, because ordinary people cannot have such a disproportionate impact on outcomes. America’s democratic system creates the illusion that people can make a difference and have choices, but the most important votes, rightfully, are left to congress. The tripartite system creates redundancies and safeguards, ensuring that no one individual or the masses can have too much of an impact. No referendums. Imagine if Americans were offered an option to choose lower taxes, more welfare spending, or budget surpluses: many would vote for all three, not knowing that tradeoffs between spending and surpluses are unavoidable.

He’s Right Again

He’s right again (Martin Shkreli in response to Senile Sanders):

People such as myself and Martin want to create economic environments where the best and the brightest can succeed to their fullest potential – to create tomorrow’s Facebooks, Teslas, Googles, Amazons, and Ubers – whereas far-left liberals like Sanders think wealth can be created by spreading it from those who earned it to those who didn’t, or by wasting money on useless social programs for society’s ‘losers’, neglecting the ‘winners’. Imagine a Football team where only the worst players are chosen, and the best are expelled or relegated to 3rd or 4th string. That’s Sander’s vision for America. How are we supposed to inspire America’s smartest when policy neglects them? How is America supposed to compete with countries like China and South Korea, that elevates, not suppresses, talent? The free market is still the best path to prosperity and innovation, of all the alternatives, but it can’t work if far-left policy shackles it with excess regulation, high taxes, and misappropriation of resources. As Martin Shkreli understands, we need policy that promotes, helps America’s best and brightest. And those who succeed should be able to keep what they earn instead of having to spread their wealth.

Welcome To the Working Class Nick Denton!

From Justine Tunney: Welcome To the Working Class Nick Denton!

As many already know, Gawker recently filed bankruptcy and is seeking to sell its assets to cover the Hogan judgement. Justine Tunney, one of the earliest pioneers of NRx (until she was unfortunately expelled), recounts how Gawker tries to ruin lives:

You may remember me as the woman whose reputation was destroyed by your Valleywag writer Sam Biddle, who labeled me a “Pro-Slavery Lunatic.” Tsk tsk. Your staff didn’t even have the professionalism to link to actual tweet for which I was indicted.

Because if you had, your readers would have been able to clearly see I was talking about how we should help Walmart workers, who suffer injustices worse than slavery. But your late media empire didn’t care about the truth. The only thought that probably crossed Sam Biddle’s trustifarian mind was that he could make more ad revenue for ol’ Nick Denton by destroying the life of yet another innocent working class American.

Good points. As usual, in today’s culture of shaming and sanctimonious mob vigilantism, we seldom hear the other side of the story. Once a narrative is established that affirms a preexisting liberal bias, the reputation damage cannot be undone.

But I don’t pity myself. I’m actually quite fortunate compared to most of your victims. I never lost my job.

Kudos to Google for having a spine and defending their employees instead of capitulating, but they need to stop pulling YouTube videos and disabling accounts that accidentally ‘violate’ their intentionally Kafkaesque rules on ‘hate speech’ and ‘copyrights’. Often the latter is used a boilerplate excuse for the former. Someone will report a video that is not 100% PC, and YouTube will invoke some arbitrary ‘copyrights’ rule as justification for pulling it down, such as for music or images used in the video.

Another example, which I forgot, is Pax Dickinson, yet another target of the Puritanical SJW digital lynch mob, who lost his programming job:

Take for instance Pax Dickinson. You got him fired from his job back in 2013 for a joke he made on Twitter a few years earlier. A joke which, twenty years ago, would have just made everyone at a party pause for a moment of discomfort and move on. But his entire career was destroyed. He tried to find work for years, with no success.

His employer was Business Insider, a ‘news’ site that pays interns a pittance to churn out low-quality articles and infographics for page views, and will fire interns who fail to meet page view quotas. Henry Blodget, the founder of Business Insider, like Ivandjiiski of Zerohedge, has a checkered past and was barred from the securities industry by the SEC for conflict of interest violations. Is it any surprise those who preach the most virtue are often the most morally compromised? Not if you understand the hypocrisy of liberalism.

Nick Denton, you’ve committed far more wrong than Pax and I ever have or will, and you deserve so much worse. But I won’t revel in your newfound equality with ordinary Americans.

Unfortunately, I doubt this will have much of a ‘dent’ on Denton, besides lost money. He’ll probably quickly be poached by another media company for a high salary, and the whole thing will start again.

Correct Predictions, Part 2

Not much going on again. Some time ago NRx and rationalism began running out of ideas. Too many open threads and link round-ups. ‘Echo chamber’ does seem like an apt description, but it’s a chamber where stale ideas are reverberated, not new ideas. Everything has become so predictable, expected (the inevitability of everything) that even mass shootings like in Orlando, the worst domestic terrorist attack since 911, only arouse us of days, before the holiness signalling wears off and everything returns to baseline.

Over and over again I keep being right: Bitcoin keeps going up, now at $630 on its way to $1,200 again, and even higher. Been telling readers to buy since $100 in 2013.

Also Snapchat, now valued above $16 billion, up from $13 billion last year on its way to $40+ billion soon. I was right to ignore the doom and gloom: it really is different this time. These valuations are sustainable and will keep rising even if few can understand why. That’s why this blog exists: to help explain.

A lot of pundits get hung-up on profitability, not realizing that userbase expansion is more important than immediately making money. In Part One, I explain how the ‘profit switch’ once flicked ‘on’ will allow web 2.0 companies like Snapchat to fill their high valuations:

As for web 2.0 unicorns, profitability right now is less important than the demonstrable ability to generate profits down the road, when the timing is right. Many successful web 2.0 companies, like Snapchat, are intentionally delaying revenue to build their userbases, but inventors are confident that should Snapchat ‘flip’ the switch and go ‘live’ with their ad platform, Snapchat will succeed at mobile advertising as Facebook and Instagram have.

Snapchat’s ad platform will be the second biggest after Instagram/Facebook. Major bands like Nike already have promotional offers.

Tesla is another example: many on the left argue the cars are too expensive and Tesla is unprofitable: yes Tesla cars are expensive, but it’s still a huge niche (the high-end car market is a multi-billion dollar industry), and also Tesla is cash flow positive. Tesla makes 20-30% profit margins on each car sold.

The luxury car market is growing faster than economy and is a $300 billion dollar industry:

And Tesla has greater salves volume and growth than its competitors:

A common retort is that a large company with very deep pockets (Apple, Microsoft, Sony, etc.) can overwhelm a smaller successful company and steal its market share, by simply spending a lot of money to put the smaller company out of business. But just as Jeb Bush could not buy victory in 2015, it often doesn’t work that way in consumer technology, some examples being:

People said the same thing about Google in 2004 ‘Anyone can make a search engine; Microsoft has so much money they can crush Google’

Same thing about Facebook in 2010 ‘Anyone can built a social network’

Same thing about Apple in 2003-08 ‘Sony/Microsoft/ etc can make a music player/phone’

n the 80′s would have guessed Microsoft, decades later, would still be the dominant player in operating systems? Apple and Linux never got above a couple percent.

On the subject of predictions, as for Brexit, I have no idea haw the vote is going to turn out. The bookies favor ‘remain’ winning, but I’m not so optimistic. Again and again, whether it’s multi-billion dollar funds lagging the S&P 500, billionaire hedge fund manger George Soros in 2013 buying puts in a bull market and losing his investment as the market kept going up, wealthy politicians failing to win (Jeb Bush), or huge companies failing to displace smaller more nimble competitors, more money does not mean smarter money. In many instances, the rich are just as clueless, if not more, as everyone else at many things. But if the S&P 500 falls a lot due to ‘exit’ winning, it will be a great buying opportunity. That I do know with certainty.

Part of the reason I am almost always right (especially about finance, web 2.0, and economics) has to do with the fact I have a fundamental understanding of how the world works, which took about ten years and reading hundreds of books and articles to acquire this understanding. ‘Understanding’ is a lot like a martial art – you have to practice and get in the right ‘mindset’, and eventually you get better. Also a lot of observation and basic pattern recognition, to understand why some trends and companies persist and succeed (web 2.0, Bay Area real estate, Bitcoin, stocks) and others fail (jawbone, fitbit, etc.). Most people don’t understand anything, don’t know how to do anything, and keep making the same mistakes over and over. Once you have a better understanding, it is like having a 6th sense, the clouds parted and the path to enlightenment.