July 2016


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Next week TSLA & LNKD earnings look interesting. Nothing much else of note.

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We are involved in a group project for Civil Litigation. We were assigned to the group. Most of us cannot stand one another. But, for better or worse, we are stuck with each other. To date, lazy bastards.

I’ve just looked at a draft response to a letter of demand that I wrote quickly before going to work yesterday. I made some corrections a bit later. The date on the contract needed to be verified. True, someone verified it, but didn’t bother amending the letter to reflect that date. I could go on.

Luckily, law in real life can be a 1 man band.

On another note, the submissions in court on Wednesday, in an ‘Interpretation of Contract’ case, the senior partner in a law firm, looked at, and made submissions on the wrong clause in the contract.

I was completing a ‘Statement of Defence’ in my second appeal case, another senior partner in a leading law firm made 2 errors. One material, the other also material actually, but both really careless, either that or they were trying to catch me out.

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So AMZN is currently trading well within my straddle of $715/$797. Essentially I do nothing and take profits at the end of the day.

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(Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) reported a better-than-expected rise in quarterly revenue, powered by blockbuster growth in its cloud services unit and an increase in subscriptions for its Prime loyalty program.

The world’s biggest online retailer’s shares were up 2 percent in after-hours trading on Thursday.

Amazon forecast current-quarter net sales of between $31.0 billion and $33.5 billion, factoring in sales from its Prime Day annual shopping festival.

The company’s net sales in North America, its biggest market, jumped 28.1 percent to $17.67 billion.

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Most market observers think the Fed came up with the idea of impregnating their balance sheet, but that is incorrect. In 1998 the Bank of Japan embarked on the first real QE operation in the modern era, which can be seen in the first upward zigzags in the blue line here. The Federal Reserve unofficially started QE in late 2008 by taking in all kinds of illiquid debt instruments, the markets for which had vanished at the time. Officially, QE operations in the U.S. Treasury and mortgage markets began in early 2009.

What I am worried about is that central bankers may get cocky, as so far their monetarist maneuvers have not broken the financial system. While quantitative easing isn’t necessarily real debt monetization and outright printing in the U.S. as the Fed swaps one interest-bearing asset Treasurys) for another (excess reserves), it is that interest on excess reserves has purposefully always been above the fed fund rate that stops them from producing hyperinflation. This higher rate stops excess reserves from entering the fed funds market and in effect stops the credit multiplier of the fractional reserve banking system.

In essence, the U.S. version of QE was the most profitable carry trade in the world where the Fed paid 0.25% (the interest rate on excess reserves for most of QE’s tenure, rising to 0.50% on Dec. 17, 2015) to buy assets that had yields of 2% or higher, in effect remitting the difference to the Treasury.

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I have been so busy with court cases, school and work, that I haven’t really had time to follow the earnings to date. AMZN and GOOG report today after the market close and are both big movers, rich with premium.

Nothing much in GOOG for me, but AMZN has a trade. I placed a condor at $797/$715. It has 1 day’s trading to expiry. It looks like last earnings AMZN jumped the $50, so it could easily do so again.

That of course is the problem with these high fliers…they are really high risk and can do pretty much anything.

So pretty much fingers crossed.

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Ray Kurzweil, the author, inventor, computer scientist, futurist and Google employee, was the featured keynote speaker Thursday afternoon at Postback, the annual conference presented by Seattle mobile marketing company Tune. His topic was the future of mobile technology. In Kurzweil’s world, however, that doesn’t just mean the future of smartphones — it means the future of humanity.

Continue reading for a few highlights from his talk.

On the effect of the modern information era: People think the world’s getting worse, and we see that on the left and the right, and we see that in other countries. People think the world is getting worse. … That’s the perception. What’s actually happening is our information about what’s wrong in the world is getting better. A century ago, there would be a battle that wiped out the next village, you’d never even hear about it. Now there’s an incident halfway around the globe and we not only hear about it, we experience it.

Which is why the perception that someone like Trump sells, could be false and misleading. But more importantly, what actions we take based upon that information. If I respond differently, then my perception has directly changed my actions, which has unforseen ramifications when multiplied by millions.

Brexit could be an example of exactly this.

On the potential of human genomics: It’s not just collecting what is basically the object code of life that is expanding exponentially. Our ability to understand it, to reverse-engineer it, to simulate it, and most importantly to reprogram this outdated software is also expanding exponentially. Genes are software programs. It’s not a metaphor. They are sequences of data. But they evolved many years ago, many tens of thousands of years ago, when conditions were different.

Clearly our genome is not exactly the same. It to has evolved. This may have been through random mutations, in which certain recipients thrived in a changing environment.

How technology will change humanity’s geographic needs: We’re only crowded because we’ve crowded ourselves into cities. Try taking a train trip across the United States, or Europe or Asia or anywhere in the world. Ninety-nine percent of the land is not used. Now, we don’t want to use it because you don’t want to be out in the boondocks if you don’t have people to work and play with. That’s already changing now that we have some level of virtual communication. We can have workgroups that are spread out. … But ultimately, we’ll have full-immersion virtual reality from within the nervous system, augmented reality.

One of my favorite novels is Asimov’s “Foundation” series. The planet Trantor….entirely covered by a city. Is that what we want?

On connecting the brain directly to the cloud: We don’t yet have brain extenders directly from our brain. We do have brain extenders indirectly. I mean this (holds up his smartphone) is a brain extender. … Ultimately we’ll put them directly in our brains. But not just to do search and language translation and other types of things we do now with mobile apps, but to actually extend the very scope of our brain.

The mobile phone as a brain extender. Possibly true for 1% of all users. Most use facebook or whatever other time wasting application, and essentially gossip. A monumental waste of time. Far from being a brain extender, for most, it is the ultimate dumbing down machine. Text language encourages bad spelling, poor grammar etc. So you can keep your brain extenders.

As far as directly connecting your brain to the cloud….that sounds like ‘The Matrix”, which is of course the subject of philosophical musings about the brain in a vat. The potential for mind control would seem to be a possibility here. Not for me thanks.

Why machines won’t displace humans: We’re going to merge with them, we’re going to make ourselves smarter. We’re already doing that. These mobile devices make us smarter. We’re routinely doing things we couldn’t possibly do without these brain extenders.

To date, I would argue that the vast majority are significantly more stupid because of them.

As to robots and AI, imagine a man, Spock, who’s choice making is driven 100% by logic, rather than by 50% logic and 50% emotion. How long does the emotional decision maker last? Most emotional decisions get us in trouble. The market is an excellent example. Politics is another, ie. Trump.

 

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