Coping: Time to Eye the Exit?

The case of the Missouri man who got a $1,000 find for flashing his headlights at oncoming cars to warn them of a speed trap up ahead is just one of the small evidences that America seems to be on the verge of becoming “Police State Lite” [PSL] without even giving the grave nature of events due consideration.

 

You may remember a week, or so back, I mentioned an email from long-time reader John who found fault in my report to you on several counts:

 

“Hi George,

 

You’re slipping a bit. You listed some seriously erroneous info today regarding giving up citizenship. See below.  

 

“Remember Cyprus?  Offshore banks seem to be worse than our own.  And besides, the US authorities claim 10-years of  authority to collect taxes from expats even if you make it out the exits.  Not to mention there goes Medicare and Social Security income, too.

 

Please note that the renunciation tax law was given a major overhaul in 2008 due to the HEART Act. 

 

The 10-year tax regime was replaced with an exit tax on the expatriating citizen, which only applies to people with a high net worth, over 2 million dollars. Thus, you are making a clean break from the system.  

 

Renunciation does not affect your eligibility for Social Security and Medicare, that is, unless you went to a country that is considered an enemy of the U.S.

 

Bye, John (very long time reader, subscriber from both sides of the Atlantic over the years….) “

 

As usual, when I get a correction like this, I make the most of it since it serves to remind me that I’m not (quite yet) invincible and to remind myself that where there’s a will, there’s a way…

 

Which brings me to point #2:  My friend Bruce down in Ecuador has set up a dandy bed and breakfast operation which features friendly amenities and low enough price to live so that a person could hang out in Ecuador for a good long time.

 

HIs place is called Casa Marilla (Yellow House) and it’s located in Vilcabamba, Ecuador.  And it got me thinking long and hard enough about the possibilities to send Bruce a note inquiring as to the price:

 

“Price is $400-450 for 2 bedroom,  $600 for 3 bedroom, completely furnished.    Internet is available for $35 a month. 2 gigabit speed.”

That’s per month, no less.

 

So yes, we are thinking about the exit now and then…

 

Hollywood Accounting

Reader Chris is a little disturbed about the short-term media coverage given to low initial takes on some films…which turn out to make money (lots of it) in the long-run:

 

“Hey G  

 

I Read the Disney Story on The Lone Ranger Tanking.   It seems that accurate Journalism is no longer necessary. Or…only money made in the U.S of A. counts, I’m not sure which.  

 

Here is the author’s statements  

Depp’s recent non-“Pirates” movies have bombed. Not counting “The Lone Ranger,” 

2012’s “Dark Shadows” cost $150 million but grossed only $80 million, 

2011’s “The Rum Diary” made $13 million on a $45 million budget, and that same year

“The Tourist” tanked, recouping $67 million on a $100 million budget.  

 

These are the actual worldwide figures, not including DVD and blue ray sales  

 

Dark Shadow   $238,727,14  

The Rum Diaries $23,947,544

The Tourist   $278,346,189  

 

Hell, and we wonder why media isn’t doing stories on things that count.  It’s because they can’t even Google for a fact.   Remember the days when the boss expected you to back up your figures.   I wish there was a fine for this kind of CRAP. “

 

Fair point, there.  It will be instructive to see how the Lone movie does over time.  One thing that is going on are stories wondering whether Johnny Depp’s career is in jeopardy.

 

Movies always were – and will continue to be – a team outcome.  One big name superstar can’t save a movie with lose parts elsewhere, yet the pile-on crowd seems intent on ignoring team play…

 

Around the Ranch:  Summer Power Failure

Along about  4PM, Elaine wandered into the office.  “I see you’re not effected…nice and cool in here…” 

 

“What, is the power off?”  It was the only question that made sense.

 

Well, one thing led to another and yes, we had a longish power outage which came back on a couple of hours later.  But it’s a reminder that solar power is a good thing when the sun’s still out and it’s 95-degrees outside.

 

I still think investing in insulation and renewable energy will, over the long term, out perform any currency out there, especially if you connect it to some kind of gardening project.

 

Life-Long Learning Note

Here’s an interesting note passed on about a new project called Flooved over at www.floved.com.  The idea is online mentoring/teaching and you can click on the “How it works” tab to learn more about it.

 

Maxa-Cookie Manager

A number of people have inquired as to whether Maxa Cookie Manager works with Windows 8.  The answer, says my friend Manfred at Maxa is yes…and I’ve been running it fine on my laptop with Win8 since I converted it from Win7/64.

 

If you’d like to sample how it works, click here and download it and follow the setup instructions.  Most people are amazed at how much crap there is in the way of tracking cookies on their computers and how much faster their machines run in many cases when the tracking cookies are taken out.

 

They also have some interesting online encryption tools and a nifty Privacy Test you can run to see just how “open to prying eyes” your computer is….

 

Manfred and I are talking a lot about security issues and privacy lately, so one of these days I will write up details for Peoplenomics.com subscribers…

 

Write when you get rich…

George Ure (george at ure dot net)

******************************************************************

Here are some useful ways to spend your money…

******************************************************************

Now on the

www.peoplenomics.com website ($40/year premium content)

A Course in Surveillance Algorithms

An algorithm is simply a set of instructions for a computer system to follow in a particular order.  In the case of Big Data, the steps are capture, organize, integrate, analyze, and act.  Using this approach, we can build a fine example of the many trip-wires an innocent civilian could stumble over in the modern surveillance society.  Plus we have our monthly check of west coast port data with is oftentimes a decent truth detector about the economy and an update on many headlines and our trading model.  You may need a third cup for this morning’s report…

 

 

More for Subscribers      To Subscribe, CLICK HERE

         Need Logon Assistance? Click here

P.S.  Don’t forget: Peoplenomics subscribers are what keep the lights on at UrbanSurvival….since subscriptions there offset the expenses of this site.

George Ure’s latest writings…

        

 

Amazon has free Kindle reader aps for Win 7, Win 8, Mac, Android, iPad, and many others if you don’t have a Kindle.  There!  You have no excuse to keep from reading my stuff…

Read moreCoping: Time to Eye the Exit?

Coping: Reading at the Exit

Let’s start with a reader’s write from Tom in Illinois:

 

“….Your digital madness novel is a great idea, do it if you have the time. However, may have a mildly rhyming plotline, in an old sci fi book, written back in -58 by a guy named Miller, can’t remember the first name. Anyway, without revealing ANY of the plot line, may I recommend “ A Canticle for Liebowitz”, superbly written, and touches on many of the idiocies of mankind, including the absurdity of religion, the insanity of nuclear weaponry, and the propensity of man to keep sticking his weenie in the meat grinder. If you can find it, and have not read it yet, I guarantee you will love it. “

 

I actually (in a vague sense) remember reading it!  Perhaps the plotline was somehow embedded, since when I wasn’t memorizing everything I could get my hands on about electronics as a kid, I was sucking up everything I could in the way of science fiction.

 

The two reasons it jogs something? The name Liebowitz and it was the first time I had run into the world “canticle.”  A Canticle for Leibowitz is still available in paperback from Amazon, by the way.

Speaking of writings and readings:  I keep thinking that if I ever get to the point of retiring, it would sure be fun to go back and reread a lot of the books I read as a kid.  A kind of reboot of data files before the Big Sleep.

 

I remember long ago when I interviewed Louis L’Amour and he told me about how he’d worked as a merchant seaman, reading pocket collections of great literature to other merchant mariners in the focsle at night.

 

Well, that got me to looking into such mini pocketbooks and you can still find the Everyman’s Library on Amazon with a fairly wide assortment of readings.  One, for example is The Stories of Ray Bradbury (Everyman’s Library (Cloth)) while another is Three Novels: Journey to the Center of the Earth, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Round the World in Eighty Days (Everyman’s Library (Cloth)).

 

Mind you, there’s a great many of the older classic books available on Project Gutenberg website; simple enough to download classics and then .PDF them and forward them to a Kindle, or toss them onto a ‘droid and read ’em as text files there.

 

As a Man Thinks

Most people don’t realize the extent to which their thinking is “bounded” by their inputs.  In other words, the number of new thoughts and ideas you’ll have is directly related to how much raw material you pack into your brain.

 

Creativity, seems, may be something of a matrix; which is one of my favorite topics to discuss.  Thus, the more fresh raw material you put in to your head, the more new ideas come out.  Which is why I try to devote an hour or two every day to reading something.

 

Readers have generously sent me a wide selection of readings, which I take up as time allow:  I’m presently parsing in “Astro-Economics: A study of astrology and the Business Cycle” by LCDR David Williams, which fits in many ways with one I’ve been working through from my personal stack (which you can get from Amazon): The Unified Cycle Theory: How Cycles Dominate the Structure of the Universe and Influence Life on Earth

 

That book by Peutz ain’t cheap, by the way:  A shade under $50-bucks.  But the rare booklet by Williams (1958) can still be found occasionally for $20-something from Amazon’s bevvy of used book sellers.

One footnote about those mini pocket books:  The fonts are small, so they’d be something to read before your eyes get too old.

Which get’s me to a very interesting thought about reading.  Seems to me there are two ways a person could look at the topic and structure your life which distills down to two paths:

 

1.  One path would be to “read like hell” until age 30 or so (whenever an advanced degree of some kind is nailed) and then quit reading everything except readings in your field of expertise for the rest of your life.

 

This is easy on the eyes, inexpensive, and minimizes time consumption for inputs.  Toss in the fact that 90% of news is useless in terms of personal action (what are you going to do in your life about last night’s latest Trayvon demonstration, for example?) and you can save all kinds of time to devote to either staying absolutely current in your area of expertise.

 

2.  The OTHER path would be to progress as above, until you have enough knowledge about  something to make a good wage, but then portion off some part of each day to your continued general education beyond what’s in your specialty. 

 

To this kind of approach, last night’s latest demonstrations (Zimmerman) do mean something, and reflecting upon news of such events might lead to insights which, although not specifically useful in a specialty/income area (outside of HR, perhaps) do reveal the current state of affairs in the “hearts of men.”

 

Eventually, one comes to the ponder about whether there’s some kind of existence of a human “essence” after Life as we know it ends.  Since most professional specialties only work in the physical here & now, if there is some kind of after-life, then going there, which is presumably another dimension or way of existing as spirit/essence/whatever, with specialized knowledge about how things “used to work on that plane” would be pointless.

 

What seems more likely to transcend the boundary of death would be the “affairs in the hearts of men” and in this regard, the more general information about the operating habits of other spirit/essences/whatevers would become the entire point.

 

Arguably, no one knows what happens beyond the grave, but there’s been enough information coming back, as documented originally in Dr. Raymond Moody’s Life After Life: The Investigation of a Phenomenon–Survival of Bodily Death wherein a lot of heart attack victims and others who’ve been dead, but just for a while, come back with amazing tales to tell.

 

One of these days, my friend Capt. Midnight has promised to write up a very personal experience with this phenomena of “touching other side” which is quite amazing, revealing, and I think important.  I’ll pass it along when it arrives (which I anxiously await).

 

Whatever IT is, seems to me that the more one reads, and the more one works on the “inner work” the better equipped one will be for whatever is next. 

 

Is television a help of hindrance?  We simply don’t know yet.  However, my personal choice has been to be very careful about that which goes into brain (from where it seeps into heart) which is why I don’t watch much horror or any gratuitous violence on television.

 

Not that the Way of the Peaceful Warrior precludes right action, it’s just that present society places lots of emphasis – too much – on the what can you do for me right now kind of life.  While the large problem is what do we take through the exit safely stowed in heart and consciousness.

 

If, perchance, the after-life is a restitching of all that’s in your head and heart right now, what would you put into it next as important raw materials?

 

I’m always shocked how few people grasp the question.

 

But with the weekend here, come five minutes past Miller-time this afternoon, might I suggest one hour this weekend for a well-chosen book?  One that won’t come back and bite you in the soul down the road? GIGO.  And maybe for eternity.

 

Sci-Fi Note

One other “perchance to dream” note in favor of sci-fi?  Mars Rover discovers more evidence that Mars was once habitable.

 

War on Planned Obsolescence

Reader Shelly has been following our discussion as we seek appliances that can “outlive us” and relates this:

 

“Hi, George: When my dishwasher died the cause was the electronic control board, which was toasted.  It would have been a very expensive repair, almost $300 just for the part.  Shocked, I asked the salesman what a new dishwasher would cost and was told that I could get a low end model for about $500.  Plus shipping and installation.

Read moreCoping: Reading at the Exit

Coping: A Few Notes on Futuring

Time for a thought problem:  I’ve been ponder the nature of predictive systems a good bit lately because it occurs to me that if indeed, as some have claimed, only a very few (and maybe only one) can use a predictive system at a time, then much of modern economics should have fallen by now.

 

I’ll give you an example:  Suppose I were to present you this morning with a system of predicting market performance based on predicting future events…and further suppose that I had run some tests and it seemed to work.

 

Being an enterprising fellow,  one might package up this way of looking at how a particular stock price could/should evolve and take it to market.

 

The question is:  Is there a point where the very act of prediction lessens the value of a predictive system?  (Hint: the answer is yes.)

 

I mention this because in my pursuit of perfect trading algorithms, I’ve looked innumerable ways to predict the future.

 

Historically many trading systems have shown keen insight into “the future” such as Elliott Wave analysis, or momentum trading, and the algorithms that keep making money by front-running trading by a millisecond or two in high frequency trading systems

 

Let’s define this as our “universe” for our thought-work this morning.

 

Let’s suppose that a new party arrives on scene and introduces a new way of trading.  We’ll call this system “Challenger” and its working are kept totally secret with the developer never revealing specific code, never sharing so much as a single screenshot, and holding tightly to the specifics of how this system works beyond flowery descriptions.

 

Where there is only one user of such a new trading system, it may appear to work for a some period of time.  However, if the system works well enough, it will over time average down its results because more and more people will adopt it and begin trading accordingly.

 

Carefully note that the introduction of this new system does not end the existence of the other systems….it merely changes their behavior  slightly in the short-term. 

 

As more people adopt “Challenger” the results of other systems may even rise as followers leave them: the future is disinclined to change the total number of “winners.”

 

Statistically, among all predictive trading approaches, there seems to be a bounded number of winners.  Only the distribution among systems changes.  new systems may win early, but as traders adopt the most successful models they can find, their results suffer because of the “bounded winners” limit implicit in markets.

 

Let’s take this a step further:  Soppose the creator of such a  “new system” claims it is the only true trading system.  Can such a claim be valid? 

 

Especially because of a) the “bounded winners” limit and the pre-existence of other trading systems and b) the other pre-existing tecniques?

 

Obviously, multiple approaches may be used to predict the future and based on their successes, they rise or fall over time on their own merit.

 

In his book Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder, Nassim Taleb begins with a discussion of this sort of duality as he points our air may feed fire, or too much air – wind (for a candle) actually ends fire. 

 

What he doesn’t get into the underlying principle of air.  It’s the underlying variable, however.

 

In the analysis of trading systems, it becomes apparent (after some work) that the future does indeed seem to have a boundary to it:  Although, it’s more obvious in dealing with stock market predictions than perhaps a more generalized study of future, perhaps, but a bounded future nevertheless.  It suggests the future generally has these bounds.

 

If a new system’s results begin strong, but declaine in accuracy over time, traders will abandon it as the investor’s constant quest to optimize returns drives exploration.

 

That a system of divining future events claims exclusivity when dealing with something as widespread as “the future” is absurd.  As they say in Las Vegas “everyone’s got a system.”

There is not a class of investors who stand head and shoulders above all called “Remote Viewers” at least which I’ve found yet.  This hints to  me that remote viewing may have limited application to investments.

 

Yet, can you think of any more demanding metric than returns?

 

Thus, the test of any future prediction system is the accuracy of the numbers it delivers.

 

Whatshould the sincere researcher do when faced with a future predicting system that steadfastly refuses to make tradable predictions? 

 

One wonders which of three reasons exist:  Sincere moral objection?  Inability to be specific?  Or, that numeric results and standard deviations really matter?

Lots is being written about “future seeing” and this morning’s post by Statibartfast over at Sidewalk Catharsis is closely related.

 

Let me be very clear on something here:

 

Since our Nostracodeus software has not been sold, is not yet for sale, is not deployed, etc., any failing of other predictive systems is self-arising and not related to Nostracodeus research.  Any assertion otherwise is crap.  

 

There is no blaming Nostracodeus for any “effect.”   It was NOT out there and IS not out there.

 

In fact, Nostracodeus continues in pre-release hold.

 

On Wednesday, we’ll discuss further implications of the emerging Big Data paradigm world for subscribers to Peoplenomics.com.

Read moreCoping: A Few Notes on Futuring