I generally have avoided reading Science Fiction. It has not interested me. I find this surprising considering that I am a big fan of Doctor WHO, Star Trek and Star Wars. I absolutely loved GATTACA. Terraforming and colonizing of other planets fascinate me. Seven of Nine played by Jeri Ryan is one of my favourite movie characters. Now I am faced with an interesting challenge. I hope I will be able to do it. The challenge in the story competition is to write a story where the robot is friendly. In interestingly enough I watched an episode of a series where the protagonist seeks to check if a particular computer has achieved true artificial intelligence by asking a series of questions and tweaking the Turin test. Maybe an idea will come to me as I head over to bed. So far I have been using the competition challenges to develop my novel further. However, this is going to be different. I really don’t envisage a place for robots in the world I have created. If you have any ideas then let me know.
There is a big difference between betting and investing. Investing in inverse ETF’s equates to betting. This article talks about the demise of XIV. People investing in products such as XIV should be given a lobotomy sponsored by the NHS. This is starting to bring back memories of 2008. The culprit was Hedge Funds then. Today it is ETF’s. That time one person I spoke to that worked for a bank that was heavily marketing Hedge Funds admitted that they did not read the fine print and did not know about gating. Another person told me that he was told hedge funds would never lose money. I wonder what that person’s view would be on ETF’s today. I am not a betting man but if I was then I would say that he would cease investing in ETF’s for the next one year. I would be telling him to keep his wallet out.
The active versus passive debate has been skinned so many times that there is nothing left to skin. The answer is that there is a place for both. However, in neither should there be a place for inverse ETF’s. There is nothing wrong with shorting stocks or ETF’s. You cannot crucify the undertaker for making money when people die. Investing in inverse ETF’s is like injecting yourself with a lethal substance hoping that you will make money off the insurance. The reality though is that action of your will probably leave your health beyond repair and cause heartbreak to the ones closest to you.
Except for two people; everyone else I know who passed through the gates of Credit Suisse has been glorified cold calling salespeople. Their structured products are so beautifully created that the client will not even realise that the only people making money are the banks themselves. Of those two people, one died and the other is a gem of a person who is thankfully working for another institution. I have told him that leaving Credit Suisse was the best thing that he did. It has been some time since I spoke to him. Maybe I should now.
Bitcoin: Digital gold or fool’s gold?
Baahubali and the sequel are probably the first medieval fantasy in India that can be considered world class. This is strange considering the rich mythology and history of India. That though is for another day. Please be aware that there are spoiler alerts.
For my novel, I wanted things to be as realistic as possible. I researched armour and weapons. I found this experience very insightful. The problem though is that I have started seeing medievial fantasy movies with a critical eye. This post is by no means a critique on the movie. There are plenty of those around including silly ones that show the absence of an item in one shot to the other. I am looking at this purely from the practicality of the weapons used. I do not want to talk about the maces used as I have found them very impractical. Cinematically they look great but they are far from any sembelance of reality.
The weapons used seem to be in line with the talwar. I am not an expert but the swords used in the movie are less curved than what the talwar is supposed to be. The other big mistake is that one of the swords called Sikhander which is shown briefly in the movie is brought from the Middle East seems to be a Middle Age European sword rather than a scimitar which would be expected from that area.
Personally I think that the main sword used though reasonably accurate. The complete hilt is good. The crossguard could have been wider. The pommel seems to be useful as a blunt weapon too. The weapon is designed as slicing weapon and is mostly used like that. The part of the movie that I also like is the way the armour is used. I am comfortable with the “artistic” freedom used to wear sleeveless armour. I love the use of gambesons in the movie along with the use of plate and chain mail.
I hope this will usher in a new breed of movies in India.
I came across this article. It proved to be an inspiration. When I look back at life I do wonder what would have happened if I had to get into humanities rather than finance. Writing is something that has always attracted me. I love the way that random words can be put together to create an immortal thing of beauty. Don’t get me wrong. I love finance. I love the way the markets dance like lovers under a starry sky. Sometimes they tread on each other’s toes and sometimes they seem to glide like shimmering silk. Getting into finance is like being bitten by a vampire. It changes your life forever. The thrill of seeing the decisions you make paying off. The disappointment of looking at lost opportunities. The new things you learn every day.
Writing is like watching life being born as soon as your fingers come off the keypad or the ink from your fountain pen starts to dry. The happiness I get from writing a story or a blog is completely different. You leave yourself exposed on a pedestal. You start to instantaneously wonder whether anyone cares about what you write because you have not got any views or likes.
I have always been a macro person. I do not want to concentrate only on one topic. I am a complex person with interests in diverse topics. Why should I shackle myself to just one topic? Yes, it is easier to get followers like that just as it is easier to get a job when you concentrate on one particular sector in the equity market. However, there is no fun in that. I want the world to read what I have to say about everything I want to write about. I want to do that without having to become a leader of a country who has a twiddly finger and a twitter account. I think I have just set myself a lofty ambition. Let me see where it gets me.
I love alternate indices. RAFI which can be invested through PowerShares is probably my favourite investable index. The other index I really like is the Christmas Price Index. I had written a post on the following topics
I am still in the process of tweaking my cricket index. The common assumption in all this is my strong belief that the methodology used to measure certain indices is not completely accurate and some like the ICC cricket ranking is completely wrong. One decision I really liked was a recommendation to buy the shares of Apple when the news that Steve Jobs had cancer broke out. Yes, I did feel sad that Steve Jobs had cancer but I absolutely was furious at the people who thought that Apple would collapse because Steve Jobs would no longer be involved and would die. Today I feel the same way about the negative ratings given by analysts about Apple. The good thing though is that the fall in the share price of Apple is a good opportunity to buy it. Apple is an innovative company and will continue to do so. Everyone initially predicted that the cost of the iPhone X would under perform the iPhone 8 and would eat into the profits of Apple. Analysts more often than not get their calls wrong. Does it really matter if a company distributes less dividend than analysts expected? The important thing is that Apple is a good company. I read an interesting astrological article on the numerology analysis of certain tech companies. I am not a great believer in astrology or horoscopes. I do consider that there is a certain amount of science in numbers. It does not matter whether it appears as numerology or the significance of numbers in various religious texts. This post on the thirteen tribes of Israel is extremely good. There is a logic in Shmita. Apple will always be an attractive company to buy into. Buying it when the share price is down is a bigger bonus.
(Originally posted on 27th April 2010)
I wonder if it is a coincidence that I am writing another post related to religion. Any cataclysmic event will have an effect on a person’s psyche. On the surface, I do not think I have become more religious. However, there may have been a subconscious change.
My fascination with indices and especially those that have an alternate view should be apparent by now. So the launch of Europe’s first Christian Equity Index has caught my eye.
First, there must be a legitimate reason for launching an index. The reason for this is that there is an apparent demand by investors for so-called ethical stocks. First, the companies are drawn from the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. Second, they should derive their revenues from sources that are not against the values of Christianity as defined by a committee are only included.
Therein lies the first problem. The companies will be based on the interpretation of Christianity as set by people. Companies that have birth control are not included. This is an obvious reflection of the fact that members of the Vatican are present in the committee. Secondly, I refuse to believe that each and every company that will be listed there has not made any profit from non-Christian principled companies.
Thirdly is there a need for such an index? Shariah indices, for the most part, should act similar and contain the same underlying as a Christian index. Off the top of my head, I would say alcohol companies and the way interest is treated would differ.
I have stated earlier that the futures or stock market can reflect how well the country may perform in sports. Going by this philosophy then if this Christian index outperforms the European index and a shariah index then does that mean that Christian values are better than those of a secular world or Islam?
According to me, actions do not mean anything. What matters are your beliefs? In my mind, a Christian company is one that is led by people who have accepted Christ as their personal Saviour. If Christians are looking to invest in ethical companies then this should be the starting point. Everything else will flow.
(Originally posted on March 8th, 2010)
Durex in one of their studies just after the financial crisis reported that their sales had gone done and the average number of times people had sex reduced significantly. Around the same time, there was a report stating that the sales of chocolates had gone up. I told my friend then that a good sign that the world was in recession was when the sales of condoms decrease and that of chocolates go up. I view this as a sign of nervousness. The next step would be that the sales of condoms increases while the sale of chocolates begins to stabilise (rather than stagnate) This is a sign that the economy is improving. Then the final stage is when the sales of condoms increase at a significantly higher rate than that of chocolates. The sale of chocolates may actually decrease during this period. This I would equate with the economy being really good. People feel good about themselves. They feel happier. They go out more. Chocolate sales decrease because people no longer depend on it as a cure for depression. They avoid it so that they can get fit and look sexy again. I do not have any research yet to back my theory but I may be able to do it if I spend a few hours on Bloomberg.
If I can empirically prove my theory then I think this will be a better index than the Big Mac or iPhone because the number of people having sex and thereby using condoms is higher than people consuming either the Big Mac or the iPhone. The same with chocolates. The alternatives to both of these are limited. It is possible to make this index more accurate by calling it ” The Contraceptives and Confectionary Index (CONCON)” However that sounds too boring and not as exciting and naughty as “The Chocolate and Condom Index (CHOCO). Give me naughty and nice any day over formal and boring.
I have always been opposed to investing directly in Marks & Spencer. My view was simple. M&S sat in no man’s land. You had John Lewis that provided high-end goods. On the other end, there was Primark. If M&S made a few wrong calls on fashion then they would have a major slump. This did happen quite a few times. Yesterday’s news that M&S is to close down more stores came as no surprise. I strongly believe that M&S food is the ventilator that has kept the company alive. It will continue to do so. As always all you have to do is have a walk through the stores of M&S. In general, M&S Food will have the largest percentage of people. This trend will change unless M&S can appeal to the people who are inclined towards healthy but quick food but their older base that would like their traditional British meals. Will M&S be able to balance their traditional Cottage Pie with their Thai green curry? In light of Brexit, I hope they do as they are one of the iconic British brands. If one has to gain exposure to the UK today then possibly the best way to do it is through VGK. The Vanguard European Fund has about a 29% exposure to the UK. The exposure to the European markets would act as a hedge. I believe we are going through an extremely interesting time right now. I do not like making predictions but there will be a winner and a loser in the whole Brexit process. Either way, the financial markets will get affected. Overall the European markets will go up.
Disclaimer: I do not hold any shares of Marks & Spencer or VGK right now.
I have been following a group on discord called Writers Block. They have a weekly writing competition. I have not been able to finish and submit a story yet. However it has given me the opportunity to develop the mythology and characters of the story I started writing for NaNoWriMo. I hope I will be able to complete NaNoWriMo this year. Below is an expanded story of a scene that figured in that story. I would truly appreciate any comments.
The Abbot looked onto the field from his battlement. The students were getting ready over a “game” of capture the flag. The play area was circular. Teachers and students alike were placing bets. Whisky and beer flowed freely in the crowd. The rules were simple. There were twelve players in each side. The flag had to be visible at all times. Wooden replicas of swords and knives were to be used. Blunt rubber arrow heads were to be used. Similarly magicians could not cast spells that could cause serious harm on their opponent.
“Start in the middle. Collect your flag and pole on the sound of the horn. Flags should be visible at all times. You have time until the second horn to set up the pole and then the game begins. Play hard and play fair.” One team wore green gambesons and the other blue. The umpire climbed up the ladder to a high pedestal. He signalled that the trumpet be blown. The green team started digging the ground. Their magicians started preparing the ground. As soon as the flag was brought they started to call roots from the ground and entangled it around the pole. The mages stood in between the infantry and archers.
The blue team started to secure themselves in the centre of their half. Clarke the mage stood next to the pole and cast a fog spell that surrounded the edge of the circle. The soldiers formed pairs. Each member of the pair stood opposite each other. Every pair stood three hands away and together they formed seven concentric circles.
Perspiration flowed down the brows of the contestants. The hot midday sun made everyone sweat. The second horn sounded. Green arrows flew through the air The mages shot through the air. Clarke raised a shield and the infantry raised their bucklers over their heads. The green team saw a gap and rushed towards it. The magicians fell back. The archers dropped their bows and charged behind the warriors. The first three green players were dispatched as soon as they entered. Then the first person from the blue team fell. No sooner did that happen than the entire team moved three spaces right to fill the gap. This followed each time someone from the blue team fell. The front line of the green team were down. The archers proved to be a different challenge.
The intensity of the battle increased by the minute. The mages of the green time tried penetrating the magic shield but whoever was casting the protective spell was good. In all the fervour they failed to notice a petite figure sneak by the circumference. Burly Bruce fell down even before he felt the tap on his neck. Brighid climbed up the pole and untied the flag. She proceeded to dash across the ground. Before anyone had released anything Brighid disappeared into the circle of her team. Clarke helped her hoist the green flag up. There was silence. Then in unison the remaining blue team erupted in joy and carried Brighid on their shoulders. The green team were in shock. They slumped to their knees. They quietly got up and took their fallen mates to the infirmary. They dreaded what awaited them. Bruce lay in quite slumber and drooled dripped onto the ground. Brighid tightly knotted his shoes and feet together and skipped away happily towards her room.