Saturday, April 28, 2012

A nice video of Venice a a day, in a few minutes.

Things I haven't learned?

Esquire's "What I've learned" series is pretty neat, but the latest one from Kevin Costner doesn't quite cut it: "I never used a negative number in my whole life. I doubt you have, either."

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I predict a tenfold rise in the RBS share price

... based on news of a 1 for 10 share split. Talk about desperation. I really don't think RBS should be allowed to perform this meaningless cosmetic surgery on their share price. Call me a traditionalist but I think the only way the embarassingly low share price should rise is through actual value creation.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Hiatus, but not really

As is usual around this time of year, the site suffers neglect as we slowly move into study mode. Me thinks postings may drop to around just one or two a week, just enough to keep the blog embers burning. Also, rather than throwing down my own rambings I am currently fervently reading through unread postings from the SpecListers discussion group (the folk who comprise the public site Daily Speculations), which now exceed ten thousand mails. Sink me to the devil, I'm going to need me some coffee,

Friday, April 13, 2012

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Nomura Strategist Bob Banujah ...

writes some strong words about global central bank policy and the current state of the economy...broadly echoes my thinking on the subject:

"The current monetary policy settings in the US and Europe – which in my last note I dubbed monetary anarchy – continue to drive markets. While some may feel that central bank behaviour and experimental policies designed largely to boost markets is a good and desirable thing, I have little doubt that such ‘economic policies’ are already sowing the seeds of our next economic and markets malaise. I continue to believe strongly in the view that central bankers are intentionally mispricing the cost of capital, in an attempt to push the private sector to misallocate capital into consumption and into asset purchases at the wrong time and at the wrong price. Eras of such marked misallocations of capital normally end with bubbles that burst significantly. Central banks have shown us, time and again, that they are extremely good at driving bubble formation, that they are extremely good at denying their real motivations, and that they are extremely good at denying the existence of bubbles. History of course also shows us, over and over again, that bubbles are the direct consequence of central bankers mispricing capital, and history of course shows us that central bankers are largely impotent when it comes to preventing the significant bursting of said bubbles.

I think pump-and-dump policies, which have driven the Western cycles of print/borrow/consume over the last 20 years – and in particular over the last 10 years – are an undeniable economic failure. What is even more concerning to me is that, even after everything we have been through, the policymaker solution for our current sickness is more of the same – more debt, more liquidity, and more consumption! The West is in the midst of a multi-year era of declining living standards, in large part as a direct consequence of central bankers and their bubble blowing machines. I think sometimes those focused on markets and how to make the next buck out of the Fed/ECB ‘put’ should remember that, for example, it is at least in some part as a direct consequence of the Greenspan and then the Bernanke policy ‘puts’ that tens of millions of American citizens are either homeless and/or on food stamps. When the current post-2008/09 bubbles burst, central bank ‘puts’ and the arrogance we perceive that still persists in some parts of the financial sector will hopefully be consigned to the deep freeze box for a very long time."

A few photos

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Just had an interesting weigh-in today

and I came in at a new low of 54kg, which translates to 8 and a half stone on the nose, and is slightly below what I weighed when I did my extreme diet 3 years ago. On the one hand the results shows that extreme dieting can be both effective and sustainable, but on the other hand it is not good result for when you are trying to increase weight, which I am. The reason my plan wasn't working was simply because I had been running too much and not eating enough. I'm planning to cut out out the cardio almost completely, add even more oil to foods, and maybe start having two meals in the evenings.

Here's the summary of the extreme 30 Days Diet conclusion:

The diet was extremely simple: ignore all the psuedo-science and mumbo jumbo and commit to eating a lot less (by dint of doing what works best and experimenting with different foods, you should gravitate to healthy eating).

Here are some general comments I made a while back about my experience:

- I found that after a few days of self-torment, skipping breakfast and lunch paid dividends. For sustenance and brain function I had more sugar of all things. Sugar in some dried fruit, sugar in tea, etc. I found a little sugar goes a long way to correcting the energy deficit. However, if I ate anything substantial in the day I desired more food a few hours later. By going without something happened to my body (still not sure what) that simply stopped wanting breakfast or lunch. I guess you can train your body and mind to new habits in this way. Also, to get my nutrients I had no room for any empty calories. I had zero chocolates, crisps etc over the period and piled in the vegetables. Also had cod liver oil tablets.

- Exercise proved largely counter effective as it simply increased appetite, making abstinence more difficult. 

- I normally like to take a moderate approach but by going extreme I put my body and appetite on a new pattern and when I had my first chocolate biscuit after the project ended it was like an explosion of sugar in my mouth - not nice, although I adapted back to normal after a few days. 

- The only side-effect is that my taste buds were heightened over the period and everything tasted amazing, and I am now obsessed with food!
- I don't necessarily recommend this approach and it requires almost military discipline in the first few days, but after that, it's all too easy (perhaps dangerously so).

- Admittedly with a sample size is 1, it is arguably a bit low, but I was still surprised at my results and my prescription for losing weight which is no or little fresh fruit, no exercise during the weight loss period, more sugar, loads of veg but less carby, starchy stuff, and no breakfast or lunch.

People say crash dieting doesn't work, but for me it has given me a much deeper self-knowledge and appreciation of the food and the body.

Monday, April 02, 2012


As if the business valuation wasn't dodgy enough, the bean counters at Groupon are really messing up. Not good (unless you are short).

Sunday, April 01, 2012