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CATASTROPHE OF INFINITE REGRESS



I am currently reading a book about Roughneck Nine-One which is about how a US Special Forces Team against a vastly superior force of Iraqis near the village of Debecka, won the battle. The Iraqi forces included tanks and armored personnel carriers. Any normal Army unit would have run from the battle but Army Special Forces Unit ODA 91 had a motto that said, "Nine One don't Run". Anyone can look this up. It happens to be a very well documented battle.

When I first picked up this book, I thought it would be a standard story of how a well trained US army smashed a Iraqi unit that was not as well trained and it was up until a point. There were certain points of that battle that it seems that the author does not talk about the unit's training but leads one to think some of this battle was won on "luck".

I think in one passage in the book, "Roughneck Nine-One", it describes how a Iraqi artillery unit was walking in High explosive rounds into their position. The third round that was fired by the Iraqis would have killed much of the special forces unit BUT instead of it being a high explosive round, it turned out to be a smoke round. The Iraqis dropped a smoke round that allowed the special forces unit to be hidden from forward observers allowing the unit to escape without casualties.

The author described this as both luck but also gave thought to the theory that if the Iraqis gunners had been better trained that his unit would be toast. I am the type of guy that believes in both explanations and niether explanation at the same time....

For those that believe solely in the theory that simply more training...more and better refined tools can ALWAYS win the battle led me to think about the theory of "Catastrophe of Infinite Regress"

I might be wrong but I think the author of that theory found that it was possible to eliminate much of random chance from whatever equation that one wants to designate but that no matter how hard one tries there is always at least some finite amount of random chance left in the equation.

The US Military calls such a thing the "Fog of War" whch basically means no matter how well trained the troops are they might eventually be faced with a unknown variable in a battle which they can not defeat.....sort of like the Joker in Batman...Batman won but you must ask yourself if Batman really did win because the Joker accomplished part of his "purpose" or "unpurpose" in suceeding to change a "good man" into a "bad man" in Two Face. For you see, Batman now is now forced to live a "lie" in order to maintain for the public a false perception of reality.

So did Batman "win"?? Well, I would say that it is just as easy to say Batman won as it is to say the Joker won or that both the Joker and Batman won or both the Joker and Batman lost. It just depends on how you look at it which falls back to the "Theory of Relativity" and Einstein which led to other questions which led to John Von Neuman to come up with the "Catasphrophe of Infinite Regress" but that is just my way of thinking which steps outside of Aristotelian logic.

Do you see how this all works now? It is easy for my brain to think this way because while many like to think using the "right" side of their brain which always thinks it is "right", I use more of the left side of my brain which is totally non-linear thinking and is outside the concepts of "right" and "wrong" while at the same time being part of them. Instead of going from point to point....I pattern my brain on quatumn mechanics in which there are some theories that believe in non-locality....which is a total violation of classical physics and Einstein. Some want to only believe what is taught in school and can not think outside the box or maybe it is just that people have been imprinted with a certain belief and adjust their "facts" to fit with their beliefs.

"Who is the Master that makes the Grass Green?", the Zen Master asks.

Some want to believe everything taught in school but I believe most schools are there to teach the student how to Read, Write, Math and how not to think. Descending on to the battlefield in a different direction in order to outflank the enemy.....

In another part of the book, "Roughneck Nine-One", the author shows how the unit was succesful in managing to drop a bomb on their own friendly forces. In a comedy of errors bombs meant for Iraqi tanks suceeded in blowing up a unit of supporting Kurds. Now some might say this was bad luck or some might say that you can not account for every random factor in an engagement but over time collecting data on many engagements, one can learn lessons and use data to determine odds of certain things happening. Time can increase the odds of having desired effects happening but only if you know what to look for. It is like a needle in a haystack the way I write, in code that some might take years to decipher. Like a drug addict, "Can you find the needle?" Well, the US military makes attempts to find the needle....looking for perfection. That is what all the training is for.....and it is interesting that the public percieves that the Iraq war was only about oil. Is that perception reality or is it the saying the "Map is not the territory" by Niels Bohr?

After so many years of fighting and so many lessons learned the US military still manages to bomb it's own troops occasionally. Despite all the smart bombs,laser guided munitions, and better tactics there appears to be some random factors not accounted for that allows this all to continue.

There are a lot of genuises on TMF and I am not being sarcastic when I say that but despite all of the collective brains within the community, there were many factors not accounted for in the current "crisis". Virtually everyone that I have read on TMF have been wrong on different theories and I believe many will continue to be "wrong" or those that have been "right" will eventually be "wrong".

I used to think that market noise was just the volume button being too high when watching Jim Cramer's show but I have come to understand that it is anyone giving a opinion on the market that is noise. What anyone says could be right; it could also be wrong, it could be both right and wrong; it could be niether right nor wrong.

As for me....I am just going to stick to the knitting. I think certain themes will play out long term and time is the great equalizer when it comes to odds. I am going to try to stay away from near term stuff....As a matter of fact, I do not get as much news as most people out here on ship. I have internet on this ship but it is painfully slow. Just writing this message is using up valuable time in which I could be finding information. I am not sure if less information from the official media is a good thing or not. In one way it is good since I am not driven into the panic state of mind that many seem to be in but on the other hand there might be reason to panic. I don't know. Maybe the information I get from non-local sources is a better use of my time.

Right now, I am in the middle of the ocean....of ideas. One that I recently invested in called Leucadia that is now in my price range. I love Leucadia because they are oddballs and invest in things most would not consider like Cresud and iron mines in Australia and Timber in Idaho and prepaid calling cards and gambling in the USA and Real Estate and Biotech companies. I don't know many investors that have both biotech and a company like Cresud in the same portfolio.

If oil is such a bad bet than I wonder why these guys spend time investing in things like Goober Drilling or why Bill Mann likes WTI???...just the type of questions I like to ask and Leucadia is just the type of odd balls I like...they go against the grain and don't worry about short-term results like many who are obviously focused on that. I see today that LUK is doing some interesting things with short term loans with people using CRESY as collateral...hmmmm.

I am starting to get a good collection of companies now...Names such as MVC, MKL, BAM, BIP, LUK, OTTR, CRESY and I might add SHLD again in a year or two. I love good capital allocators.

Me...I am not whining about the stock market. I am not gloom and doom. My motto is "Starrob don't Run"





Rob S
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If oil is such a bad bet than I wonder why these guys spend time investing in things like Goober Drilling or why Bill Mann likes WTI???...

Who says oil is a bad bet?

It has seemed to be a great bet over 10 years all thru this decade. And at these prices, it is an excellent bet over next 5-10 years. It is all about timing. Oil at $147 (from $60 in one year with a 0.5% net incremental demand (~2% demand, ~1.5% rise in supply)) was a bad bet. The current prices are not. Bill recommended WTI only after the collapse of oil to below $100.

No matter how valuable a commodity is, its price have to be rationalized at the current demand/supply otherwise a bubble forms. Projecting more than 5 years into the future ususally leads to bad choices for most.
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"Projecting more than 5 years into the future ususally leads to bad choices for most."

That is something I am not certain of.....More of a projection of the mind than any definete reality.

And there are some that do think oil is a bad bet. You can always find people for and against.


Rob S
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"My motto is "Starrob don't Run""


Mine is: "If you run you will only die tired", most of time.

Sometimes it's: "Run OnyongJun Run".

I'm done running for now.
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.....More of a projection of the mind than any definete reality.

That is why don't project. Reality can be experienced only when experienced.

And there are some that do think oil is a bad bet. You can always find people for and against.

Either of the group is not made up of fools. It is the diversity of opinions that create a market. We both can look at the same info and come up with entirely different conclusions. And random chance can make anyone right. Right? So why doubt others? Think random chance.

After reading so many of your posts, I am slowly becoming a Zen master.
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No matter how valuable a commodity is, its price have to be rationalized at the current demand/supply otherwise a bubble forms. Projecting more than 5 years into the future usually leads to bad choices for most.

And the worst of the worst on oil and all commodities as well as housing, mortgage paper, third world investing and so many other areas kicking us in the teeth was the "S" word. Speculation took over so much, throwing reality spinning off into space as if it did not matter.

Back on earth, with speculators and hedge funds crushed for the moment, we will go through a phase of the re-evaluation of the value of all things when cash re-enters the markets.

Bears

Who don't know squat.
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Bears,

I have to ask you this. You have been in the market far longer than me and seen many cycles unlike me who entered the market after the dotcom bust. Did you learn anything new in this downturn?

Anurag
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Bears,

I have to ask you this. You have been in the market far longer than me and seen many cycles unlike me who entered the market after the dot com bust. Did you learn anything new in this downturn?

Anurag


Ya know, I have. I feel that in this downturn what has "happened" can be repaired and is being repaired.

During the dot com crash, we were faced with paper companies. there was nothing there to save, nothing to carry, nothing for the government to give relief to.

The trigger here is the mortgage paper the the unknown of its value. This is repairable. The government can buy the paper at a discount, they can charge 5% interest for doing the hold of the assets, that will allow a window of time to judge a default rate, allowing insurance to be applied again and the system will return and the government get out, hopefully at a profit.

I hate being down, but I also know I lost the last time, not by the stocks going down, but by owning companies that didn't have value and selling those that did. It is hard, it is against all human nature of fear, but I will not make the same mistake again, I will hold. Even if the stocks do not return to the previous high, I will not give away the recovery dollars as I did before. I will not try to make a silk purse out of ... well. not a sows ear, but I will not attempt to sell one good company that is down to generate cash to chase some other rainbow.

I could go down the tubes again, which would kill me, but at least it will be with a plan this time.

Bears
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We'll see what happens... as for me, I've gone through my savings since the market tanked in mid-october so now I'll be investing only a little a month as I earn it as long as the dow stays below 9000. Once the dow stays above 9000 it will be time to start building some cash savings again...
I won't make myself decide on a single strategy, but I'm favoring the idea of buying minimal stakes of all the GG stocks I don't own (there are plenty) and the idea of buying the high yield stocks that won't fail (OTTR, NWE, TLK, TKC, ... INTC is actually getting close to high-yield territory, HD is there but I'd have to review its balance sheets ...)
Who knows, perhaps a continued investment strategy will bring me closer to zen as well - at least in that Buddhist masters live simply and have no money. Fortunately for me I don't have to fear the markets because unlike most Americans I'm not in debt, and I will stick with the mobility of renting until the woman comes into my life who makes me buy a house.
Investing is like fantasy football, basketball or baseball - except there is a lot more information available and a lot more money involved. Just the strategizing, theorizing and positioning make it an addictive game though. Speaking of which, does anyone here play chess?

-John T
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"That is why don't project. Reality can be experienced only when experienced. "

There are many theories on what constitutes reality. One of which is that it is mostly a projection of the mind.

This is a hard concept to explain to people which is why most Zen Masters do not try explaining it. It must be experienced and often takes years to learn.

you basically will understand the concept when you understand deep down on a visceral level the answer that Zen Masters seek when you answer the question:

"Who is the Master that makes the grass green?"

I could tell people the answer and most would not consider it very enlightening. It is something that must be experienced at a gut level before what Zen Masters consider "enlightenment" takes place but remember that is only a Zen Master projection or what I think Dr Timothy Leary called a reality tunnel.

That is why I say in some of my posts that it might take years before some people understand what I have written. It sometimes takes years of looking down a reality tunnel before comprehension takes place. It has literally took me years to understand some of the things that Robert Anton Wilson writes.

If you read any of the books he writes....Well...Some seem downright silly but he hides very deep philosophy behind a lot of what he writes. It is just that most do not understand it because they do not understand all the references....just as many will find some of the hidden refernces that I have made and will make in many of my posts if they continue to expand their minds and read the posts years later.

If you want to see what I mean then go pick up and read a book by James Joyce called Finnegan's Wake http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finnegans_Wake . That is probably the most complex book ever written. Most could not even sit through a whole reading of the book because they will not understand it. The book took about 17 years to write and contains all sorts of hidden and overt references to things that most people have no idea about.

For instance....Giambattista Vico http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giambattista_Vico is referenced in different ways throughout Finnegans Wake but if you don't know anything about Vico's theories on history the reference would mean nothing and would lead you to the conclusion of "Hey, this book is boring"


"So why doubt others? "

That is the only thing I disagree with. It is good to doubt others. It is good to doubt one's own Belief System also. Robert Anton Wilson uses the initials for Belief System. He calls it BS. Read my posts on BS...LOL




Rob S
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