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Retard’s Notebook

Retard’s Notebook


Talk softly and carry a big rhubarb umbrella


Just when you thought it couldn’t get any retarder… Here you’ll find thought snippets, tweets and other short updates in (reverse) chronological order (newest on top, Annie Anal at the bottom) that didn’t make the cut for a full length post or Retard’s Playbook (free eBook coming “soon” so be sure to subscribe to my newsletter to not miss it).


Throwback Thursday, September 24, 2015

More or less exactly 10 years ago, maybe on a Thursday, the phone kept ringing, and I kept sleeping right through it, barely registering something was up.

I had been partying all night, and I vowed to my girlfriend lying next to me that I didn't have any appointments. I had the mother of hangovers. Dizzy, headache, a tingling sensation all over, feeling heavy, slow, tired and nauseous.

FYI, I had very recently become Managing Director of the hedge fund, where I was partner and portfolio manager. Being 2005, it was right in the middle of the ten year stretch that put the "decade" in our award the "European Hedge Fund Of The Decade (2000-2009)"

Around lunchtime I eventually checked my voicemail... and had 18 messages! All were from my closest colleague, one angrier than the other.

"Where are you? The board meeting has begun!"

This was not only a board meeting, it was my first board meeting as the managing director and I apparently had some official duties. As it turned out, the meeting was postponed quite a few hours, just enough for me to clean up, put on a suit and tie and drag my sorry self into the office. Not my proudest moment.

To my defense, board meetings in a hedge fund are a complete waste of time. They are only there for the authorities' sake. Nothing actually gets decided there, just rubber stamped.

Making Not To Do lists, August 21, 2015

One of my maxims is to never do today what can safely be put off until tomorrow, or way later.

An important tool for this is the Not To Do list.

Whenever I come up with ideas, projects, things that need fixing, researching etc. I write them down in a Not To Do list of things that don’t have to be attended to right away, but are nevertheless interesting or important.

It calms the mind, and puts me at ease now that I know it won’t be forgotten but can be restored and managed at any given future time that is idle, boring or has made the project relevant or even urgent.

Sleepy thoughts, August 19, 2015

sleep better

You know the feeling of a fresh, newly bought pillow? Or after washing it and and drying it thoroughly? I have that feeling every night, but I guess you do to unless you are too retarded to keep (at least) two sets of pillows and simply rotate them every night.

I hope you never make the bed with your pillows under the covers. How are they supposed to breathe, dry, and become fresh and fluffy?!

Programmer or retarded? Normalized Singularity – August 19, 2015

Finland starts teaching programming in all schools next year. Stockholm, Sweden, is introducing programming too. UK and the U.S. also has some programming on the curriculum. Good. But you should too.

Ten years from now, most young people competing for your job will have an almost innate understanding of data logic thinking, internet of things and so on. Actually, that was exactly what propelled Finland to begin teaching programming – they realized if they waited ten years, they would be very late to the game.

What excites me even more is that the next generation of programmers will take for granted that there will be thinking machines in the future, and thus they will want to be the first to make one.

Once you think it’s possible to build a locomotive, a helicopter, a spaceship, a submarine, a vac train or a strong artificial general intelligence, the focused attention makes it so much more likely you’ll succeed.

But let’s start with vac trains (“hyperloops”), at least in parallel with the AI business.

A bicep's difference the size of a world's - August 12, 2015

If you take a standard male upper arm, like mine, it's circumference is 16 inches (when flexing). The earth's circumference for comparison is 1.6 billion inches, or 100 million times bigger.

If you elongate a piece of string, that starts out fitting snuggly around the biceps and triceps, by let's say 3 inches (who wouldn't want an arm like that; 19"? My little brother is at 20", but let's be modest), it would hover... about 0.5" from the arm all the way round.

How much would you need to elongate a piece of string around the world to make it hover the same 0.5" from the surface all way round?

This is not a test, it's more an observation of how little formulas from middle school stick, and how little we understand what they actually are saying. The answer, btw, is 'just as much'; three inches.


Pigs and poverty vs. religion - August 12, 2015

Do you remember when people thought pork was banned by Judaism due to the risk of catching trichinosis (Trichinella)?

That was a fun rumor started in the 19th century when the Trichinella life cycle was discovered. Trichinella might not even have existed 2 millennia ago. In addition, the long (7-10 days) incubation period would have made the association between pork and trichinosis improbable at the time.

No, the real reason Judaism chose a pork ban for distinction was that it was associated with poverty; pigs lived with poor people, ate their garbage and the poor people then ate the pigs. Everybody but the poorest avoided pork to not be associated with the poor, not least priests and other high ranking members of society.

When Romans (first the Greek actually) conquered Palestine, they forced pork onto their captives as soon as they realized their distaste. Consequently, as soon as possible, the Judaism priesthood banned pork officially, with no reference to the risk of trichinosis whatsoever. (reference: the Gastropod podcast about the science and history of food)

Religious people are nice to have around. You always have a ripe candidate for the butt of any joke.


Whale poo ice cream, and the color purple vs. big pharma - August 5, 2015

At least you can't blame the headline for not being retarded enough.

Anyway, I just wanted to tell you about two small masterpieces that recently appeared in podcast space: The Scoop On Ice Cream (46 minutes, July 28, 2015) by Gastropod, and The Colour Purple (27 minutes, July 27, 2015) by Discovery (BBC World Service).

These two magically entertaining episodes deal with the superficially mundane occurrences of ice cream and dye.

You'll learn that, contrary to the claims of some history books, neither Medici, nor Marc O'Polo were involved in bringing ice cream to Europe. You'll learn that if it smells like poo, walks (comes) out the back like poo and looks like poo, it's really tasty in ice cream (for a while).

You'll learn that purple dye came about in the search for malaria vaccine, but ended up as a Victorian fashion statement before spurring the entire science of chemistry and pharma - all the way back to malaria vaccine.

School children had to sit for hours, can you imagine that?! - July 21, 2015

Remember when you took healthy 1-6 year-olds that were used to run around all day, to squat, to climb, to duck, to run, and forced them to sit?

Yes, it's true. We used to systematically enforce sitting for most of the day, imprinting a poisonous habit that would stick for the rest of their lives and cause incalculable injuries and illness.

We now know sitting is the new smoking, and kids no longer sit in chairs in school, but stand, walk, squat, sit on the floor, have stand only desks.

A pre-retard's hygiene routine 125 months ago, July 21, 2015

I just clipped this from my online diary February 21, 2005

I killed the lights at 01:30, after my personal hygiene routine and a few minutes of the TV series "Oz".

This morning when the alarm went off at 6:59, I felt a bit hungover but the alco tester showed 0.00.

I wet my face to soften and bloat the facial hair before shaving, moisturized my thighs with Nivea Gingko, deodorized with Nivea Dry, then had a cup of coffee and proceeded with the actual shaving.

I use Lactacyd gentle liquid soap instead of shaving foam, because of its correct pH level and anti-bacterial properties. After shaving I moisturized with Dermalogica active moisturizer on the entire face and neck, perfecting the treatment with Dermalogica's oil control lotion on the nose and neck to prevent a shiny look as well as outbreaks. On the sensitive skin around the eyes, I use yet another lotion from Dermalogica.

I took care of my red eyes with Visine, which I bought in Mexico a good year ago and sprayed some Burberry "weekend" on my neck.

Today's outfit: a pink shirt, black tie, dark striped Tiger suit, Boss belt and the usual Tiger coat and black shoes.

Greenspan spoke yesterday: no changes, markets stable

Remember that time when the industrial revolution almost didn't happen? -July 17, 2015

In 1759 James Watt was encouraged to take a look at a Newcomen steam engine (invented in 1712). Six years later Watt had an eureka moment on how to drastically improve its efficiency.

Two years later he gave up, thinking it was impossible (e.g., certain parts couldn't be manufactured precisely enough). Both he and his financier were bankrupt.

Ten years after his paradigm shattering design idea, he was depressed and working a normal 9-5 job. The designs collected dust on some shelf, all but forgotten.

Then the eccentric Matthew Boulton came along and encouraged JW to try again, and not too long after the modern steam engine saw the light of day. It ushered in the industrial revolution and lay the foundation for all of today's prosperity. It almost didn't happen due to James Watt's limited, non-growth, mindset.

Boulton had apparently adopted the change/growth mindset that researchers advocated in 1975 and is described in this highly recommended 2007 article, whereas Watt thought he had hit his fixed ability ceiling.

Retard goes mainstream - July 15, 2015

Don't talk to me about Greece! I could go on about the negotiation rounds concerning Greece and the euro here, but I wont... just a little bit.

Talk about mainstream politicians gone full retard. What's really going on is of course not that a country representing a few percent of the EU or euro is particularly important in itself. However, if the euro is not irreversible, it's not irreversible (you can never go wrong with a tautology, remember that kids).

If Greece leaves (is allowed to leave) then Italy, Spain, Portugal, France (yes, the land of frog legs is actually in deep trouble, not to mention their banks) and more will be exposed. Actually, it's only Germany that truly belongs in the euro. But even Germany (not to mention poor little Finland) will have trouble shouldering all the bad debt in Europe - that's actually the reason why they are prepared to do almost anything to keep the euro alive.

Enough about the retarded European politicians and on to today's topic: telecom

Since I retired fully and completely on January 1, 2015, I have lived without a cellphone subscription and instead relied on WiFi hotspots for outdoors communication. I think it worked fine, and I have truly enjoyed the silence. Not all my friends though, actually none of them appreciated this stunt.

There is one problem though... Almost every online service requires a mobile number for SMS authentication. It's difficult to order anything, become a member anywhere, without at least a number to receive text messages to. After my phone crashed and had to be reinstalled I realized I couldn't even get my Whatsapp back without a mobile number (for text messages, and it couldn't be just any number, it had to be my number).

Hence, I have today arranged with a cell phone service. Since I wanted to use my old number (that have thankfully remained unused these 6 months, not least considering I kept using it for payment services as it was connected to my bank account!) I had to receive a text message to that number, in order to confirm its transfer to my new operator.

That turned out to be a real catch-22 situation (read the book by the way, I loved its dry humor):

I couldn't just ask my new operator to give me that number, and my old operator couldn't transfer it for me.

Eventually, I had to visit a physical (!) Telenor store today, sign up for a new subscription there at my old operator (Telenor), change the number there and then to my old, wanted, number. Then ask my new operator to ask Telenor to transfer the number. Doing so I received a text message, on my just signed Telenor service, with a control code that I could supply to my new operator.

Within two weeks I should have my old number for use with my new operator and can cancel Telenor (30 day return policy, so I should be able to get out unscathed).

Meanwhile, I actually have a cellphone subscription with Telenor, with my old number, just like any normal person.

Dark matter resolves the Fermi paradox - July 11, 2015

The elephant in the room has always been "Where is everybody?!"

Back in the old days, they solved the problem with gods and a very small and young "planet universe".

In present time we can all extrapolate our own technology, and realize that the entire universe would be infused with intelligence as fast as light can travel, possibly faster, starting in just a hundred years or so.

And, we simply can't be the most technologically advanced and intelligent species to ever evolve in the entirety of space and time. Hence, somebody else did it before and better, but where are they?

It should be obvious that "they" don't look like us - carrying around a lot of unnecessary organic material that needs constant maintenance is just too weird to contemplate. It's also easy to understand why they haven't made direct contact. I mean, microbes and plants don't really seem to understand us either. Why bother?

However, they should still show in some way... and maybe they do.

This picture of the distribution of dark matter in the universe, that was constructed through clever wave analysis, could hold the answer; It's them! Dark matter and dark energy make up 96% of the universe. Perhaps that's what a sufficiently strong AI chooses to transcend to.

Theory and probability tell us they should be everywhere in an old universe (like ours), littered with billions and billions of earth-like planets. And they are (given that they are dark matter and energy).

Do you want what I am having? ;)

Crack-up boom - the weird death jerk of the Greek economy, July 9, 2015

In German it's called "Katastrophenhausse" (a powerful word that should be clear even to English readers) and was coined by Ludwig von Mises (who else?).

It's what happens when civilians lose faith in cash and goes on a shopping spree for anything tangible, to avoid deposit haircuts and other capital control measures. It starts as a boom, but soon goods run out and retailers raise prices faster and faster in what could lead to hyperinflation. 

It's what happening in Greece right now. Some pay their taxes in advance, since even that could be worth more than having the bank account decimated.


The universe doesn't care what an organic blob considers reasonable - July 8, 2015

Do you remember when people thought the 3 lb organic jelly lodged in primates on a pale blue dot around the year 0,0000001 A.D. (vs. the current age of the universe; Big Bang at 1.0 B.C.) would for all eternity be the peak intelligence unit throughout the universe?

That was retarded. Kind of like believing in God.

WHAT?! There still are skeptics? And God fearers?!

If these primitive jelly operated primates, with their just 100 year old technology (0,000001 Gyr old), can discover DNA and stem cells, treat brain cancer with their worst enemies (polio), make exaflop computers (up to 100x the power of a human brain), it must be obvious that another just 100 years equivalent down the line (http://mikaelsyding.com/ai-and-the-coming-technological-singularity/), they will improve enough to increase both longevity and intelligence beyond their own unenhanced capacity.

By the way, do you remember when insurance companies in the 1920's said that the 80-year old trend of steady increases in life expectancy (from 45 years to 65 years) would grind to a halt right there and then?

That was fun.

Well, I'm sorry to say (not) that the longevity trend has continued unabated for another 100 years. And in some 15-20 years is when we really kick in the next gear(s).

AI is coming. Super longevity is coming. Anything else would be extremely weird.

Remember that the laws and possibilities of the universe really don't care one iota what your jelly blob considers reasonable.


This one goes to eleven! - July 5, 2015

[sales pitch from Hi-Fi stereo sales men, demonstrating amplifiers that don't stop at 10 or at straight up, but go one more unit, "to 11!" and thus are obviously better than the ones that stop at 10 units or 12 O'clock]

My new company celebrated its initiation with a thai dinner tonight. While browsing places we found Tjabba Thai close by. Their courses typically showed 1-3 chilis as a gauge of their strength. Two courses had 4 (!), and one single course stood out like a sore thumb with 6 (six) chilis.

Anecdotes on the internet described how the personnel refused to serve that course to non-thais.

We went there, and I confidently ordered the 6 chili course. The waiter smiled uncertainly but I seemed to know what I was doing so he didn't say anything.

I gauged my heart rate throughout the meal, and quite surprisingly it stayed as low as 68 bpm at the very peak capsaicin effect right at the end of the course.

Afterward, the waitress (a different person brought the check, than the waiter serving us) said she was impressed. I countered that I wasn't warned. She made an embarrassed noise and face and explained that my tan made the waiter think I was half thai...

That's what I get for being fully retired and spending all my time outside... Full retard on all accounts - including the tan and the chili.

The lesson here is: Trust no one, least of all people touting scales that go above the scale... It was extremely hot though and I won't be ordering that soon again.

Pretty fly for WiFi



Learn to take a loss - July 4, 2015

All you have is now, the time between the unchanging past and unknowable future. But now doesn't exist more than the line between water and sand does. It's either water or sand; no line.

-for relations as well as investing

Bonus: ask yourself "what's wrong with right now", anytime you feel regret or fear. Yeah, sure, "it hurts, you feel shame, it's a loss, what will happen now" etc. but right, right now? Learn to take a loss.


Mobility for retards – June 23, 2015

I may look like Kermit the muppet when I do my exercises, but just a few minutes a week can mean the difference between looking young and being healthy vs. injuries and appearing older than you are.

Check out these 10 mobility exercises (+ a few self massage techniques)



Always bring your phone to the gym – June 20, 2015

Have you noticed the guys fiddling with their phones more than they move weights? They are often the strongest and biggest guys around. They don’t talk, they don’t ogle, they don’t fuck around.They are meticulous and disciplined. You want to be one of the phone guys.

You should always have your phone by your side when in the gym. Make sure you use it between every set, and sometimes during the sets.

You need it for documenting and analyzing your technique, for keeping exact records of your workouts, for time keeping and discipline – making sure you rest just the amount you were planning to, not missing any exercises, sets or reps and using the appropriate weights.


Don’t maintain skills – June 19, 2015

Do or do not. Never maintain.

When you are learning a new skill, go all in for a limited period.

  • Immerse yourself in DuoLingo, books, grammar and speaking out loud, when studying a new language. The intensity and constant repetition improves not only your language proficiency but your actual ability to learn new things, your brain plasticity.
  • Power through Khan Academy’s math section during a few weeks or months

Once you’ve reached a certain desired level for a skill, let it go.

There is no use in wasting time maintaining knowledge in French, Portuguese or math, e.g., if you’re not actually going to use it.

That time should be spent intensely acquiring another skill (or relaxing).

Once you’ve got a trip planned to Rio, spend a week brushing up and you’ll be good to go.

The same goes for muscle development. Focus on increasing your strength, or muscle volume for a specific muscle. Then proceed to the next project/muscle, rather than going to an endless series of workouts just maintaining, never progressing.

-Unless you’re just after the health benefits, then it’s okay to simply take long walks, complemented by non-progressive strength training.


When it becomes serious, you have to lie – June 16, 2015

These words of wisdom comes not from yours truly, but the man that most embodies the dream of a federal Europe: Jean Claude Juncker. It’s hard to get any retarder than Draghi (“I’ll do whatever it takes” to print money to spend on keeping Greece in the euro just a few unnecessary extra years, against its and everybody else’s will – but my cronies’), but Juncker still takes the price.

Sure, negative interest rates are a good start, but Jean-Claude roundhouse-kicks the living daylights out of all sanity, when he smooths over every megalomanic action by European politruks, with a public call to official deception of the masses.

Hence, coming from the retardest man in Europe (nobody can touch Kuroda of Japan), this page has no choice but to take Juncker’s advice at face value. 

In May 2011, he told a meeting of the federalist European Movement that he often “had to lie” and that eurozone monetary policy should be discussed in “secret, dark debates”

Mr Juncker was also closely linked to the EU constitution, before the French referendum on it in 2005 he predicted, correctly, that Europe would ignore any popular rejections.

“If it’s a Yes, we will say ‘on we go’, and if it’s a No we will say ‘we continue’,” he said.

At the beginning of [2014], Mr Juncker was forced to deny that he had an alcohol problem after Jeroen Dijssebloem, the Dutch finance minister, described him as a “heavy drinker”.

-When it becomes serious, you have to lie

And what better to lie about in Europe than debts? Remember “austerity”? You know, when the worst offending countries in the euro crisis were supposed to put a lid on public spending to keep debts and debt ratios in check?

Guess what? Since then, debts haven’t missed a beat, actually accelerating upward; and debt ratios have increased every single year.

Now what? I know, let’s show Greece even more leniency… If going retard anyway, why not go full retard?


Some people drink coffee every day, sometimes more than one cup – June 8, 2015

Some of those still think addictive drugs should be illegal

I drink one cup every second day: on workout days, about 90 minutes after waking up, after my morning walk with the dog but before my workout session.

Not drinking coffee every day makes sure you get a better effect when you do drink. Not drinking directly after waking both increases the effect and reduces the drug’s addictiveness.


Don’t work out everywhere – June 6, 2015

Sure, you can make push-ups and what have you everywhere. But shouldyou?

I say, make a plan and stick to it. It doesn’t help you reach your strength or muscle volume goals, if you anxiously wear yourself out (both physically and psychologically) at sub-optimal times. In addition, I assume you are interested in many other things than just physical fitness. So stop doing (too light anyway) unscheduled pushups, situps etc. just because the laws of the universe allow it. 


Post-mortems for the dead, pre-mortems for the living – June 5, 2015

Many, including me, will tell you to embrace failure. It’s easier said than done, but still not that hard if you already have achieved a certain success.

Nevertheless, what’s sometimes omitted is that failures should be identified and accepted, celebrated even, while they are still small or at least not fatal. Injury is okay; death is not.

In investing, e.g., you want to avoid going broke; that’s why stop-losses exist, no matter how painful or wrong they prove to be.

Here is how a pre mortem procedure was described in a recent Freakonomics podcast:

Gather the team, tell them to relax and open up the mind for thinking without prejudice. “Close your eyes and imagine the project was a failure, so bad we avoid eye contact when we meet”. “Now take two minutes to write down your best guess as to why that happened”. Collect the top explanation from each participant and then let the group brain storm around solutions to prevent those exact things from happening.

You can do this alone with everything from doing a road trip with the family, to managing your investment portfolio or analyzing a particular company.

“The 1986 Challenger catastrophe (7 dead) was caused by launching in lower temperatures than the O-rings were made for. The responsible person never gave the all clear, but his bosses at NASA went ahead anyway. Talk about unnecessary post mortem”


WBW’s extremely long pro Tesla post – June 4, 2015

Reading this post on my phone outside in the sunshine was pretty retarded. I’m still glad I did it.

Be warned though; it’s very one-sided (praising Tesla), and I personally am not sure Musk or his companies will survive to deliver the Future envisioned in the post. I’m not even entirely sure we’ve understood the long temperature waves on earth (due to earth’s wobbling axis, due to solar activity, ecological feedback etc.).

However, I’m quite sure solar power will be big, unless we stumble upon the solution to controlled nuclear fusion. I’m also pretty sure we won’t run our cars on fossil fuels in the future – although we might run them on clean oilmade by bacteria or algae (that extracts as much carbon from the atmosphere as the cars later emit).

I’m also pretty sure, the TSLA share will fall by around 83% :) from its current levels within 2 years. Then we’ll see if the company survives and if Musk manages to deliver sensible electrical cars at sensible prices – and reinvent the battery market.

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This is a topic that's close to my heart... Thank you!

Where are your contact details though?

Here is my weblog: experte für steuerbetrug - http://www.glimt-films.com

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