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Which is the ‘good’ trade? Which is the ‘bad’ one?

(A) On careful due-diligence, you put on a position only to be later kicked out at a loss by your stop.
(B) On a tip you don’t vet, you put on a position that goes on to be a huge winner.

Another version is Taleb’s question, “Who’s ‘richer’?”

(A) A dentist drilling teeth making normal dentist profits.
(B) A janitor who won the $100 million dollar lottery.

Obviously --and for the same reason-- (B) is the wrong answer in both cases once the alternative histories are run. For sure, our lives (and our investing/trading results) are a consequence of both cause and chance. But there’s only one rational way to make bets. You estimate the odds and bet accordingly, but small enough so that when you’re wrong, you don’t get yourself thrown out of the game. That’s why your Google bet did work, this time. You scaled in. It had nothing to do with “finding the big score”, and it’s super easy to find plenty of parallel cases where big bets blew up faster than investors could get out of them. (Try ‘Long Term Capital Mgmt’) I’ve got nothing against ‘speculators’, or ‘traders’, or ‘gamblers’ (though ‘investors’ do annoy me. LOL). I regard all four as merely cousins playing similar versions of the same, basic game. Sonny Page made and won a similar bet as you did on Silver Wheaton. (Well chronicled in another forum.) But ‘wildcatting’ is a more fragile bet than ‘grinding’.

Is life capricious? For sure. But at whose temple do you choose to make offerings, or in whose zendo do you sit? In the book, I Heard the Owl Call My Name, there’s a scene in which the vicar has gone fishing with his some of native Indian parishioners, and when teh first salmon is caught, he offers a prayer, but the prayer the natives themselves would say and in their own language, as they release it. Or again, if I’m remembering right, in Steve Raymond’s book, The Year of the Angular, he releases the first fish of his year, “a fish, special like no other”. That’s both the mystery and magic of we humans. We’re both rational and irrational at the same time.

‘Luck’ is for when you’re play for fun. The ‘Odds’ are for when you’re playing for real. It’s important not to confuse the two.



The Worldly Hope men set their Hearts upon
Turns Ashes--or it prospers; and anon,
Like Snow upon the Desert's dusty Face,
Lighting a little hour or two--is gone.
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