Category Archives: Anecdotes

History’s Future

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One of the assumptions about technical analysis’ efficacy is that history tends to repeat itself and, based on historical examples, the future can be anticipated with greater clarity than just hopeful guessing (a skill bulls exhibit with particular panache).

I tripped across an interesting example of this far afield from the world of finances. It has more to do with geopolitics. Check out this quote from a historian made before the cold war ever started and see if, based on what happened, it rings true (I’ve boldfaced some parts):

Today there are two great peoples on earth who, starting from different points, seem to advance toward the same goal: these are the Russians and the Anglo-Americans. Both grew up in obscurity; and while the attention of men was occupied elsewhere, they suddenly took their place in the first rank of nations, and the world learned of their birth and their greatness nearly at the same time. All other peoples seem to have almost reached the limits drawn by nature, and have nothing more to do except maintain themselves; but these two are growing. All the others have stopped or move ahead only with a thousand efforts; these two alone walk with an easy and rapid stride along a path whose limit cannot yet be seen. The American struggles against obstacles that nature opposes to him; the Russian is grappling with men. The one combats the wilderness and barbarism; the other, civilization clothed in all its arms. Consequently the conquests of the American are made with the farmer’s plow, those of the Russian with the soldier’s sword. To reach his goal the first relies on personal interest, and, without directing them, allows the strength and reason of individuals to operate. The second in a way concentrates all the power of society in one man. The one has as principal means of action liberty; the other, servitude. Their point of departure is different, their paths are varied; nonetheless, each one of them seems called by a secret design of Providence to hold in its hands one day the destinies of half the world.

So when do you think this prediction was made? Perhaps during the mayhem of World War 2, as a scholar looked past the war to anticipate what was ahead?

Nope. The above was written in the 1830s, over a hundred years before World War 2 even began, by Alexis de Tocqueville in “Democracy in America”. Pretty astonishing, isn’t it? Could you imagine making a sweeping prediction about the world’s construct in the year 2120 and being more or less correct? I, for one, am in awe of the foresight required to have speculated with such prescience. Nostradamus had nothing on this guy.

Thousand Bucks off a Tesla

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If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “I want to own a Tesla just like TIm, but it’s $1,000 too expensive!“, well, it’s your lucky day.

Tesla sent me this link – – which chops $1,000 off your price. It also just so happens to give me a $1,000 credit toward the Model X I’m impatiently awaiting, so it’s a win/win.

If there’s even one Sloper who does this, this post will have been worthwhile :-)

Municipal Madness

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Only a government employee could point to a 99.5% failure rate and declare it a success.

Look no farther than my local newspaper this morning: the city of Menlo Park (which is an affluent superb like Palo Alto, but even whiter and more sheltered) spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on equipment to read the license plates of all the cars passing by certain intersections. (We’ll set aside the creepiness of the surveillance and just focus on the economics here.)


Chinese Sandwich

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Last week, I made the mistake of buying a sandwich at Starbucks. I was pretty hungry, I happened to be near a Starbucks, and the photograph of their new product looked tantalizing. Let’s just say reality didn’t match promise.

And that, in a nutshell, is what the people of China are experiencing at this very moment. Because their corrupt, venal government has sold them a bill of goods in the form of a (formerly) booming equities market, and the freshly-minted “traders” are finally getting a good look at the bag they’re holding, and they feel just like I did: disappointed.

Outside In

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Greetings from yet another happy hour – – this one in beautiful downtown Los Altos, California (which the Google boys pretty much own). I bid you greetings from behind a large glass of house red and a sampling of Greek appetizers. Opa!

Some of you wanted to get my “review” of Inside Out, which I saw with my beloved family this afternoon. In short, I thought it was terrific. This was no surprise, since I tend to like Pixar films anyway (Cars notwithstanding) and since I already had seen that, of all the Pixar films, this new one is pretty much the highest-rated.


Trade Shows of Yesteryear

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A few days ago, a former employee of mine from back in the days of Prophet, and now a friend/business associate, emailed me to ask if I’d be heading up to San Francisco for the Money Show. He lives in San Francisco, and Palo Alto is about a forty minute drive from there, so he thought that, if I was going, it would be a good opportunity to get together.

I hadn’t really planned on going. Back when I was building Prophet, particularly in the late 1990s, financial trade shows were actually pretty fun. In fact, during the Internet boom, they were amazing, because there was a bustle of activity, and there would be hundreds of booths with the latest trading, charting, and portfolio technologies.