Blabberbox:Random blog-like posts by pftq and his related selves.Share on Twitter

Bamboo Tapestry

September 5th, 2015 | Posted by pftq in Stuck in My Head | #
Bamboo Tapestry by Seiichi Kyoda
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Earthbound - Home Sweet Home Orchestra

September 5th, 2015 | Posted by pftq in Stuck in My Head | #
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The Power of Fate and Irony

August 26th, 2015 | Posted by pftq in Blabberbox | #
     With the advent of my newest project Autodidactic I, which premises itself on harnessing the power of "fate and irony," I thought it'd be timely to explain just what that means and how it is actually more literal than one might think.  At its core, it's about setting up the least likely situations to always be in your favor, what others perceive to be your worst case scenarios to actually be your best case.  You set yourself up such that the most ironic thing that can happen to you is the best thing that could happen to you, and everything else falls in line behind that.  This is a lot of the thinking that bleeds into most of my endeavors, whether it be in my trading, planning my life, or even just making sure I get from point A to point B on time.

     It sounds a bit like superstitution or voodoo, but it really is more about planning, psychology, and just staying ahead of the game.  When planning any sort of event or organization, for example, the biggest mistake one often makes is leaving open that 0.0001% chance that things go terribly wrong.  Instead take that and flip it on its head.  Make the 0.0001% case the case where everything goes terribly right.  In practice, I often *seem* like the more conservative risk taker on any team (despite my super left-field ideas and approaches to things),  but when the unthinkable happens, it's to my favor.  What better irony than the safest plans thriving in absolute chaos? And there's nothing to say you can't simply be so in control (or so impervious to a lack of control) that it just looks like you're passive when you've actually already set plans in motion to take over the world.  It's about always knowing your edge cases and putting them in alignment with your goals.  It's about eliminating chance from the equation and only leaving open possibilities that help your cause.  When the unthinkable happens, you win, and when it doesn't, life just continues as usual.

     The other aspect is just mental, when you declare the most absurd things with no expectation they happen, when you jinx or counter-jinx things, when people give up at the exact moment they should have doubled down, etc.  This definitely sounds much more like superstition now, but think of all the situations in the past where you or your friends jinxed things and how often these ironic situations actually came true.  Words have meaning, whether they leave a guilt chip in the back of someone's mind or make yourself doubt your best judgement (too good to be true, unwillingness to go against what you just said, etc).  The key again is to let the things you think most absurd always be in your favor but also in a psychological aspect.  If someone else is doubting something (often you), let them be on the losing side of the ironic outcome and not yourself.  If someone is about to give up but thinks something will work out right as they quit, be on the receiving side of that luck.  Sometimes, it's almost like witchcraft, where in order to ensure my success, I purposely make sure there are enough people thinking or making a claim they'll regret, where they unintentionally jinx themselves such that, in the (misleadingly) remote chance they're wrong, it leads an outcome most extremely in my favor.  Think of famous last words; often times I purposely get someone to declare verbally the opposite of what I want just to jinx him.  This extends to all other activities mental and psychological - trading, poker, etc. If someone is about to exit a trade they think they'll regret doing so, take that as a sign that trade will probably work.  If someone thinks they'll fold a good hand, let that be in your favor if it comes true.  Often times, my reputation in poker is that of a blind better with beginner's luck, when in actuality I'm letting my opponents self destruct against themselves.  It's letting people's own irrationality and biases get the better of them... at least, that's the politically correct way of putting it.

     I'll admit, a lot of times, there is actually absolutely no one around and nothing someone else thinks or says should rationally affect the outcome; yet it still plays out the same way where my outcome is just so much stronger if it's the most ironic thing that can happen.  If there's no one else around to jinx my outcome, often times I will jinx myself.  Sometimes I figure out what's the most absurd way for my plan to work out and then try *not* to pursue that direction while leaving that possibility open.  It's like the opposite of denial; you convince yourself the most ironic way to succeed cannot happen, but you intentionally turn a blind eye to it, leave that open to let fate play its part. Other times I make a smaller counter bet that can go terribly wrong, except that my actual main bet will win in a huge way (lose the battle to win the war, do something stupid to come out as the underdog even if it's just against yourself, shoot yourself in the foot to.. I don't know).  Even in trading, I sometimes purposely make an outrageous or regretful decision, so my smaller bet absolutely bombs but my larger bets work out - sell out of a few calls to cry about and regret not having later, only to come back and show your true hand of a huge position (take that, Fate!).  You know how the hero in the movie always gets punched before punching back?  It's like punching yourself first so that no one else can.  It's like finding the most embarrassing, stupid way to do something, such that you pay your dues in the spotlight, but behind the scenes at least you still win.  It's almost akin to ritualistic sacrifice if you want to go the superstitious route, throwing someone off the ship to make sure it sets sail, except you're sacrificing pieces of yourself (not literally this time, for those getting offended).  Perhaps the only non-madman explanation here is that it's your own doubt or expectations you are overcoming, though that still doesn't explain when no one's thoughts can affect the outcome - who knows.

     A lot of this probably comes from my gaming background growing up, particularly in real-time strategy games (RTS).  In that mindset, you are often managing hundreds of tasks simultaneously.  You can be building economies and directing armies while also controlling every individual soldier or villager at the most basic tasks, macro and micro.  What this forces you to do is constantly start things but "know" how they'll work out without necessarily watching it through.  It's about management and pipelining to the extreme.  It's pure deductive reasoning where everything is cause-effect, nothing is left to chance or correlation; you either think through all possible scenarios or you leave yourself open to exploit by the enemy.

     Here, the enemy is fate and irony, and the only way to defeat fate and irony is to turn it into your best friend.
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Pursuit of the Impossible

August 22nd, 2015 | Posted by pftq in Thought of the Day | #
Boundaries are pushed by pursuing the impossible and failing, not by staying well away and succeeding.
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In Search of a Standing Desk...

August 20th, 2015 | Posted by pftq in Blabberbox | #
In the mean time, this will have to do, though it's not as adjustable as I'd like.


At worst, I suppose I can go back to my lie-down desk if I get tired.



The desk is from Japan, called a Super Gorone Lie-Down Desk.  Was super hard to find and had to ship internationally.
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The 50 Percent Random Lie

August 13th, 2015 | Posted by pftq in Thought of the Day | #
50% does not mean random.  If you beat a grandmaster chess player 50% of the time, you are pretty damn good.
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Reality Check for Startup with $70K Min. Wage

August 1st, 2015 | Posted by pftq in Blabberbox | #
More reality checking on Silicon Valley with the startup that declared $70K minimum wage now hitting hard times because of it:
CEO Who Set Firm's Minimum Wage at $70K Hits Hard Times

Had already pointed out that things like this were unsustainable in my Perfect Storm for Silicon Valley write up a couple months back. It's all well intentioned but overly idealistic with not enough thought put into the consequences.  It's not the first time a company has tried to create somewhat of a utopia for its employees (aka paternalism), but it would be nice to look back on history and not repeat the same mistakes.  One simply has to look back on 19th and 20th century history to find past companies pursuing similar policies (Pullman, Ford, ...). It seems to be a trend now to always charge forward and deny any lessons from the past as old ways of thinking.
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Political Correctness is 1984's Newspeak

July 30th, 2015 | Posted by pftq in Society | #
I recently read an article about the University of New Hampshire's "Bias-Free Language Guide" this morning.  At first, I thought it was a joke or satirical post of some sort on political correctness, as it seemed like something straight out of Orwell's 1984, but it was on the college's official site as an actual resource.  It's since been taken down, but it's hard to "unpublish" webpages now, especially if it's been up for years. I managed to save a static HTML copy here: University of New Hampshire's Bias-Free Language Guide (as of Jul.29 2015)

One novel that immediately comes to mind is Orwell's 1984.  When I first read it in high school, most my peers and I thought it very unrelatable, but now it's pretty scary how close we're getting to some of its themes.  Here are some comparisons to illustrate the point:

Orwell's ...[More]
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