Slope of Hope Blog Posts

Slope initially began as a blog, so this is where most of the website’s content resides. Here we have tens of thousands of posts dating back over a decade. These are listed in reverse chronological order. Click on any category icon below to see posts tagged with that particular subject, or click on a word in the category cloud on the right side of the screen for more specific choices.

Bye-Bye, Buy

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When I was 16 years old and a junior in high school, there was a kid in the class above me named Tommy McWilliams who, among other programming feats, wrote a game called Outpost which netted him about $60,000. This was back in the early 1980s, and believe me, it was a very big deal at the time. He even got his picture in Newsweek.

Tommy used some of the money to buy a brand new Porsche 944, which had just been introduced. I wanted that car so bad I could practically taste it. I wasn't jealous of Tommy – he was a friend of mine, and I admired him. But, at that age, I definitely was a materialistic kid.

I spent pretty much all the money I earned on the latest stereo equipment, computers, and so forth. And, yes, I eventually got enough money (through writing books) to buy the same car, albeit a 1984 instead of a 1983 model. I remember well the teacher in the computer class announcing to the other students, "Let's go outside and see a good reason to learn about computers." And he led the entire class outside to admire my new car and watch me zip it up and down the street a couple of times. I was so proud, but in retrospect I imagine a couple of people thought I must have been a real jerk to be showing off like that.

The point which I fumbling toward here is that I shucked my materialism very early in life. A lot of things have contributed to my minimalist nature. Part of it has to do with recognizing the truly important things in life, like love and family. I used to think such notions were the claptrap of losers who didn't have money and just want to assuage themselves, but I realize now that the wisdom of the ages is right after all. I was, as everyone is at some point, a fool and coveted material things, but I really don't care anymore.

I drive an eight year old Volvo sedan, and I don't care if I ever get a new car. God knows I don't bother dressing in expensive clothes. I don't want any more gizmos. I don't want a bigger house. I don't want a boat, a fractional jet membership, or a sports car. As long as I've got my laptop and a decaf coffee, I'm a happy guy. I'll gladly let Mrs. Bear and the cubs spend the money I earn.

I think of these things not to tout my path to becoming a Buddhist monk but as a lead-in to my short position in RTH. I still think retail is doomed over the next year or two, and shorting RTH is my favorite way to take advantage of this speculation. I don't imagine people have become anti-materialist; far from it; I think most people are desperate to be distracted from their lives by whatever gewgaws they can find. But the money simply won't be there for people to buy Yet More Crap They Don't Need.


The nightmarish failure of the H&S last week hasn't broken my confidence in this pattern, and I am relying on the H&S in RTH as the basis for my short. In addition, the gentle descent of lower highs makes for a nice, clean stop.


I shall now return to my lotus position. Ommmmmmmmm.

As God Intended

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One fellow wrote me last week and suggested, unhelpfully, that "technical analysis is a crock."

I disagree, although it's easy to question one's faith during times like these. It was heartening to see at least one chart behave itself this morning – Lockheed Martin (LMT), on which I own puts.

I had a couple of different reasons for buying puts on LMT. The first was that the Fibonacci fans have been pretty helpful on this stock, and the price had climbed its way back to the underside of a fan line. But the principal reason was that the line at about $87 had been strong support before and now was representing strong resistance.


The stock finally began the coveted "falling away", and I'm more optimistic about this position. These are December $90 puts, and they're up about 45% this morning. I think these are keepers, and I'll keep ratcheting my contingent stop down as the position continues to move in my direction.