Ten Best Books of 2018

Added on by C. Maoxian.

The 10 Best Books of 2018, according to the New York Times Book Review editors:

  • Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday — female. no birthdate but looks young

  • The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai — female, born in 1978.

  • The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani — female, born 1981

  • There There by Tommy Orange — male, born in 1982

  • Washington Black by Esi Edugyan — female,. born in 1978

  • American Prison by Shane Bauer — male, no birthdate but looks young

  • Educated by Tara Westover — female, born in 1986

  • Frederick Douglass by David W. Blight — male, born in 1949

  • How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan — male, born in 1955

  • Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs — female, born in 1978

The books about Jobs looks interesting… maybe I’ll try to read them all?

Movies Watched -- Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (2017)

Added on by C. Maoxian.

108 minute running time so 10 to 20 minutes too long. The backstory of the Wonder Woman comic book (“carefully crafted psychological propaganda inserted into a populist medium to further the cause of equal rights for women“) is sort of interesting, but I wasn’t thrilled with this movie.

Professor Marston and his foul-mouthed wife have a lifelong ménage à trois with one of his students. He had children with both women … they were into some kinky stuff (bondage, S&M, etc.) back in the 30’s and 40’s … the sex didn’t disturb me nearly as much as the gratuitous swearing. He came up with the comic book idea to make a living, and in a way popularize his DISC theory (dominance, influence, submission, compliance), after he was fired from Radcliffe.

Yellow rating at best. These people were ostracized as reprobates then, but it all seems rather tame now.

 Cut the kink

Cut the kink

Movies Watched -- The Machinist (2004)

Added on by C. Maoxian.

98 minutes so the perfect length, but I still watched it at 1.5x because it was disturbing and I can’t seem to watch anything at normal speed anymore. An emaciated Christian Bale, scary thin, makes watching him very painful, you have an animal response of horror seeing someone who looks like that. Anyway, this is a creepy movie, a sort of mystery / thriller, ultimately about the power of guilt, but I don’t want to spoil it.

They found some crazy Spaniards to finance this and filmed it in Barcelona of all places. Jennifer Jason Leigh plays a hooker with a heart of gold, yet again. Heavy on the Hitchcockian music, channeling old Bernard Herrmann.

Losing your mind, mental health, lack of sleep, delusions, the consequences of violence … all interesting ideas, but I wasn’t super thrilled with it in the end … a yellow rating at best.

Stephanie Zacharek correctly writes: “… ultimately, the picture feels like a cheap thriller dressed up for the art-house set.”

 Do I look OK?

Do I look OK?

Movies Watched -- Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

Added on by C. Maoxian.

115 minute running time so at least 15 to 25 minutes too long. A W.D. By movie (written and directed by the same guy… and oh shit, he’s a “playwright”).

I hated this movie. It’s pointlessly violent and foul-mouthed. They’re playing an unspeakable tragedy and crime, and a mother’s grief, for laughs.

Drag out old Woody Harrelson to play a cracker cop, yet again. (And why would he have a pretty, Alicia Silvestone-ish wife, 30 years his junior?) Stick Frances McDormand in a blue jumpsuit and have her kick kids in the groin. Ha ha. Let’s all have a chuckle about those white trash morons out there in Missouri, shall we?

Red rating, avoid. One of the worst movies I’ve had to suffer through from 2017.

 Lessons from Momma

Lessons from Momma

Notes for Chat with Traders, Episode 168

Added on by C. Maoxian.

Episode 168 ... Anand Sanghvi ... "Sang Lucci" (95:20)

  • Prop trading model doesn't make sense any more, commissions too low

  • Prop trading firms now sell education

  • Prop firms take the other side of their own (poor) traders' trades

  • Recently moved to Puerto Rico

  • Live there 183 days and get serious tax breaks

  • No federal income tax, no capital gains tax in Puerto Rico [really??]

  • Sales tax in Puerto Rico is 11.5%

  • Island living very expensive though... everything is imported

  • Ton of crypto guys in Puerto Rico, waiting to take gains tax-free [gains?]

  • Crypto guys are now all "distraught"

  • Electing to mark-to-market is important if you're an active trader

  • Trading under a business entity, you can deduct a lot of things

  • Pay the $500 to set up an LLC if you are seriously active

  • Had a hedge fund, had a couple of bad months, biggest investor pulled out, shut it down

  • 95% long options strategy in the past

  • Looking to set up a new hedge fund in Puerto Rico, with less risky strategy, more automation

  • Trading strategy has changed completely in the last three years

  • Now he's 60% short options, 40% long options

  • Knows immediately if he's wrong when there's momentum

  • No momentum then you are in la-la land, no idea if you're right or wrong

  • Theta -- time component to options pricing

  • Trades NFLX, AMZN, NVDA (etc.) options

  • Used to be up a million in a month, then down 500K the next month, returns were too volatile

  • Holds things for one, two, three days max

  • Has traded options on the same stocks, the Usual Suspects, since 2010

  • AAPL options are so thick you can put 250K position on and take it off in minutes

  • You need portfolio margin to get more creative

  • Right now he's swing long TSLA ... long March 2019 400 strike calls

  • Sells short-dated TSLA calls against his core position to collect income

  • Follows his instincts ... has been trading for over a decade

  • If your trades are too short-term, you're going to get shaken out

  • There's a fine line between following your instincts and being stubborn

  • Instinct tells you to get out, but you're too stubborn to get out

  • Where are you trying to go with your $5,000 account?

  • Hedging allows you to stay alive until volatility returns

  • Find what strategy works for you and when it works for you

  • BTFD "buy the dip" worked for six years in a row

  • Trying to make your losses back -- that's how people go to zero

  • Your instinct will try to save you but you'll be stubborn and ignore it

  • Find ways to hedge your life and who you are as a person -- guard against depression

  • Figure out how to protect yourself from yourself

  • If you hold options till expiration, "the shit's going to zero"

  • There's a fine line between conviction and recklessness

  • If you're too attached to a position, you won't be able to cut it

  • After 2007, high frequency trading changed everything

  • All markets are emotional ... all auction markets are the same

  • Retail traders can't make any money because they're too emotional

  • Retail traders know they suck but they have no solution

  • With automation, you're only as good as your code

  • [He sounds like a profane Jim Cramer, not just the voice, but the pacing ... it's fascinating]

  • Interesting idea about using facial recognition technology to save you from yourself

  • You have an app on your phone that saves you from yourself

  • [Segment from 1:16:50 to 1:17:20 made me fall off chair laughing … “your daughter’s mother”]

  • Script stops you from trading the same ticker repeatedly within X amount of time

  • You need to create a behavioral profile of yourself as a trader, like Facebook has of you as a human

  • Multi-level marketing thrives in places where people have no opportunity and they're ignorant

  • Most people can't stick it out until they make it trading, it's too difficult, they quit (and who can blame them?)

  • Website: www.sanglucci.com

  • Twitter: @sanglucci

Love Me True

Added on by C. Maoxian.

Greek dad, Jamaican mom … not sure why she changes the lyric to “please love me too,” “say you love me too,” but… wow. (Bacharach always thought that Aretha’s version was rushed … and he was right, as this cover proves.)

Also check out: Lianne LaHavas NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert

Daily Civics Lesson

Added on by C. Maoxian.

Liz Trotta in 1991, pre-Internet

“[News] won't have to be packaged within 22 minutes anymore by seven or eight guys who think this is what your civics lesson should be for the day.“

And on Madame Nhu:

“The Dragon Lady, yes. She represented a sort of female Eastern viciousness and mystery and chicanery and betrayal and all the rest of it and they kind of focused all the animosity towards our allies in Madame Nhu.“

Movies Watched -- Good Time (2017)

Added on by C. Maoxian.

100 minute running time so the perfect length, but it was so grim and sleazy (Guy Lodge calls it “gutter realism”) that I had to watch at 1.5x fast forward in order to bear it. It’s about a deaf, semi-retarded guy and his criminal brother … they rob a bank and everything goes wrong … the deaf brother is captured but the the criminal one is still on the run and it’s all about the chaotic hours of his life that follow. Super depressing. Jennifer Jason Leigh (who is getting old, unlike me) briefly plays a girlfriend character.

I don’t know how to rate this … it’s super low budget, best represented by the cheapie techno soundtrack, but it isn’t badly made … it’s just awful to watch these lowlifes doing awful, violent things in ugly places (like Queens). Yellow rating, I guess.

Ann Hornaday writes: “… a pulp thrill ride that turns out to be as petty as Connie’s crimes.“

Ben Sachs writes: “… the film encourages delight at the adventures of an amoral dirtbag content to exploit people who are poor, black, or disabled. Not since Gaspar Noé's Enter the Void (2009) have I been so mesmerized by a film I found morally repugnant.“

Rex hated it: “Vile and repulsive, Good Time is just under two hours of pointless toxicity.“

A.O. Scott hated it: “… a rickety genre thrill ride [that tries to] feel like something daring and new. It isn’t. It’s stale, empty and cold.“

Alison Willmore calls it a “masterfully scuzzy feel-bad.“

 You ever do time before?

You ever do time before?

Movies Watched -- The Wonders (2015)

Added on by C. Maoxian.

In Italian and German. 110 minute running time but felt much longer… at least 20 minutes too long. (I’m catching up on the last few movies I missed from 2015.) I wasn’t too thrilled with this. Beekeeping family in Italy living on the margins … grumpy German Dad with Italian wife and four young daughters … you feel bad for all the kids, especially the oldest girl, Gelsomina (they all have lovely names). You should be glad that this rural life of drudgery disappeared, no need to be wistful. Yellow rating.

 Gelso confronting Dad’s whacky expression of love

Gelso confronting Dad’s whacky expression of love

Movies Watched -- The Tribe (2015)

Added on by C. Maoxian.

In Sign Language. 130 minute running time so at least 30 to 40 minutes too long. See screencap below.

SPOILERS: School for the deaf in the Ukraine… new kid comes … there’s a gang of boys who run things … new kid joins them … they mug people, but their main source of income is from pimping out two female classmates at a truck stop … kid falls in love with one of the girls … quite a bit of graphic sex … gets her pregnant … what former Soviet republic movie doesn’t include a gruesome home abortion? … the girl is going to be sent to Italy for the larger crime syndicate’s prostitution operation … kid objects, tries to destroy her precious passport, other gang members beat him and leave him for dead. Somehow he survives and comes back and murders them all in their sleep.

Not a feel-good pic. Not cheerful. A lot of the scenes reminded me of China, but this was much grimmer. Sort of interesting, the whole sign language thing, but I can’t recommend it … too gruesome, too depressing. Yellow rating.

Tirdad Derakhshani correctly writes: “Embrace it as a great work of political critique, or reject it as a form of aesthetic bullying; there's no denying The Tribe is a powerful provocation. “

 Now you tell me!

Now you tell me!

Movies Watched -- Somersault (2004)

Added on by C. Maoxian.

106 minutes so only about ten minutes too long. I recently saw and liked Berlin Syndrome, which was directed by Cate Shortland. This movie was written and directed by Cate Shortland (W.D. By), so I thought I’d give it a watch … no subtitles on my DVD, so I missed at least 30% of the dialogue … just couldn’t understand a lot of the Australian English.

There’s no story here … it’s very thin … I wasn’t thrilled. A beautiful teenage girl, a perfect Lolita type, gets busted fooling around with her mother’s boyfriend, so she runs away to a ski area (Australia has ski areas?), and is living this sort of marginal life alone … sleeping with random guys, or trying to … she clearly lacked a strong father figure.

She tries to be the girlfriend of this guy who is also sort of a mess, though in a different way. But who cares, I just couldn’t get into it. May appeal more to blonde teenage runaway girls than old bald homebound guys. Yellow rating at best.

 Underneath, people are... are different

Underneath, people are... are different

Movies Watched -- Their Finest (2017)

Added on by C. Maoxian.

110 minutes long but felt much longer … at least 20 minutes too long. A period piece (WW2), a love story, a movie about movies, and a feel-good pic. Best thing about it was Gemma Arterton, who is both beautiful and stacked.

Wasn’t thrilled though, yellow rating.

 Not confusing facts with truth

Not confusing facts with truth

Movies Watched -- GETT: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem (2015)

Added on by C. Maoxian.

In Hebrew and French. 115 minute running time, so way over the sacred 100 minute mark, but I liked this one. Who knew that divorce in a rabbinical court could be so thrilling? The absurdity of it all is just so great that it plays like a comedy at times… but of course it’s a tragedy. The cast of characters who come through the court … it’s hilarious (and terrible). Really well done. Recommended. Green rating.

The movies I can recommended from 2015 are:

  • 45 Years

  • GETT: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem

  • Mad Max: Fury Road

  • Shaun the Sheep Movie

  • Son of Saul

  • Tangerine

  • The Diary Of A Teenage Girl

  • The Revenant

  • Wild Tales

 Unending Trial

Unending Trial

Movies Watched -- Berlin Syndrome (2017)

Added on by C. Maoxian.

115 minute running time so at least 15 to 20 minutes too long. There were quite a few scenes that I could have cut to get it closer to the sacred 100 minute mark, but I liked this one. It’s a thriller that borders on horror … really well made, but not easy to watch.

It was not on the Rotten Tomatoes Top 100 list, so I just stumbled across it, and I’m glad that I did. Again, this proves that the Rotten Tomatoes list is deeply flawed.

Abduction and sexual captivity movies aren’t for the faint of heart, but if you’re a tough guy or girl who enjoys a well-crafted, well-acted thriller, you’ll like it. I just wish it had been tighter, cut 15 minutes out and it would be near perfect. Teresa Palmer is another super talented Australian actress (like Naomi Watts and Nicole Kidman).

Recommended. Green rating. This is the fifth movie I can recommend from 2017 … the others are Thelma, Land of Mine, Graduation, and Wind River.

(I see now that the director of this movie also made Lore, which had one of the best endings I’ve seen.)

 Why do you always throw yourself at me?

Why do you always throw yourself at me?

Movies Watched -- Appropriate Behavior (2015)

Added on by C. Maoxian.

86 minutes so well within the sacred 100 minute mark. Not just a W.D. By movie (written and directed by the same person), but a W.D.S. movie — written, directed, and starring the same person, in this case a young woman named Desiree Akhavan.

It’s mainly a homosexual love story, but it’s more complicated than that — she can’t reveal to her Persian parents that she’s gay, so there’s a cultural barrier thing going on too. It’s about educated rich kids living the hipster life in Brooklyn. “Shirin” is an Iranian-American … her family has money and she went to Smith. She’s attractive, but sometimes looks like a transgender man, her body type is manly — it’s weird. She has a deep, sexy voice and she’s smart and not conventional — all attractive qualities.

The movie is very funny in parts … I didn’t hate it, but I also didn’t like it enough to recommend it. If you’re interested in privileged hipsters in Brooklyn, and the sexual experimentation that some young people engage in, you might like it. Yellow rating.

Stephen Holden titled his excellent review Aimless Adventures of a Hip Narcissist, which is spot-on.

 Mom, I’m a little bit gay.

Mom, I’m a little bit gay.

Movies Watched -- Lady Bird (2017)

Added on by C. Maoxian.

94 minute running time so well within the sacred 100 minute limit. A coming-of-age story set in 1992 … the trouble I had with it is Saoirse Ronan couldn’t pass for a seventeen-year-old in my mind. In every scene, I thought why is this woman in her twenties going to Catholic high school?

There are a lot of cute scenes (the discouraging guidance counselor made me laugh out loud), it’s quirky, but it’s sort of overly precious throughout (though it doesn’t descend into Wes Anderson or Little Miss Sunshine or, god forbid, Noah Baumbach territory.) The class element interested me (east Sacramento versus west Sacramento), going to state college versus some private school in NYC, etc. But I wasn’t that thrilled in the end. Yellow rating.

 Hottie from Haifa closer to seventeen than the lass from Dublin

Hottie from Haifa closer to seventeen than the lass from Dublin

Notes for Chat with Traders, Episode 87

Added on by C. Maoxian.

Episode 87 ... Tom Sosnoff (60:58)

  • Aaron recommends Sosnoff’s Ted Talk

  • Caddying 18 holes is called a "loop"

  • Jimmy Rocko, his caddy master, grifted him out of all his earnings, cheap life lesson

  • Current generation way too risk averse

  • Current generation has too much student debt, makes them scared

  • Take risks when you're young ... it's common sense

  • Risks usually aren't efficiently priced

  • Graduated college in summer of 1979

  • Wanted to work for a lobbyist but couldn't find job

  • Worked for Drexel Burnham right out of college, fall of 1979

  • "Bullshitted his way" in

  • Pre-Milken, he was long gone before the collapse of Drexel

  • Gold and silver exploding then

  • Stepped on floor of CBOE and knew that's where he belonged

  • National Semiconductor (NSM) pit, first words to him: "f-ck you!"

  • Trading floors: all alpha males, strong egos, independent, grifters -- fit his personality

  • Spent 20 years on the floor of CBOE

  • 3-5% of the people they hired made it

  • He just got lucky and made it

  • Only instruction to trainees was "go make some money"

  • Couldn't outsmart anyone so tried to outwork them

  • Made enough money so he could build ThinkOrSwim

  • The only way to make money with options: trade small, manage profits, sell options naked

  • All about creating a statistical chance of success with options

  • No such thing as a quantitative model that can beat the markets

  • Market making models (and HFT) can beat the market, but that's it

  • The world prices everything perfectly -- no free money, no edge out there

  • Derivatives overprice for fear, take advantage of this opportunity

  • Sell high implied volatility

  • There are people who make money, but they're outliers

  • Can't steal money from your customers anymore, this is how people used to make money

  • Be product and strategy agnostic, all your focus is on liquidity

  • Manage your winners, forget about your losers

  • Learn all about implied volatility, learn how to sell premium

  • Price is not mean reverting, but implied volatility is

  • He's on pace to do 10,000 trades for the year (2016)

  • Start young and start small and learn

  • If you can order a pizza, you can trade. It's not rocket science

  • 100,000+ tastytraders [not sure what this means? active viewers?]

  • Markets 35 years ago were inefficient

  • Individual investors today at no disadvantage to professionals -- fees, technology the same, only know-how different

  • Trading psychology is 100% bullshit

  • We make people feel good about their lack of know-how

  • People aren't successful because they don't take the time and the commitment to be successful

  • Industry makes money by managing other people's money

  • There's no psychological element to blackjack or even poker (it's all mechanics, playing by the book)

  • He stood in the same two foot spot for twenty years in the pit

  • Saw the hurricane coming and wanted to be the first one out

  • Scott Sheridan his partner ... hired great technologists to build ThinkOrSwim

  • Hired smart people to execute their vision

  • He didn't see his family for ten years while building ThinkOrSwim

  • Built a great company and product

  • Didn't want to sell ThinkOrSwim, but it was a public company and TD bought them out

  • Sold ThinkOrSwim for $750MM

  • Went to CEO of TD Ameritrade and told him he wanted to leave

  • Built tastytrade, which is a media company, profitable since Day One

  • In order to trade for a living: you need capital and need to know what you're doing, stay small

  • His biggest revelation was that he was trading too large ... got smaller, got successful

  • Eight hours a day of live content on his website every day, tens of thousands of hours archived

  • Website: www.tastytrade.com

Movies Watched -- Only the Brave (2017)

Added on by C. Maoxian.

134 minute running time so at least 30 to 40 minutes too long. SPOILERS: I didn’t realize this movie was commemorating a real tragedy, memorializing a group of wildfire firefighters, a.k.a., “hotshots.” It did make me wonder if the disaster were avoidable … were bad decisions made? I guess that’s something you can’t dare ask.

What interested me about it most were the parallels to War Porn … Josh Brolin is a sergeant (“Superintendent”) leading his squad of brave and buff young white men into battle, except they’re not killing ragheads in the desert to protect the homeland, they are battling mother nature to protect homes in the western United States. The classic-rock soundtrack, the pretty blonde wives (and nurses!) who call their men heroes, the fetishizing of the gear and the rigors of the training — all the usual macho stuff, just a different context.

It wasn’t badly made, but it was way too long … the culture of wildfire firefighters is interesting, and they did about as good a job dramatizing it as they could … but, it gets a yellow rating from me.

 Mark Zuckerberg, former junkie, current hotshot

Mark Zuckerberg, former junkie, current hotshot

Hard To Categorize

Added on by C. Maoxian.

I skimmed this Hidden Tribes: A Study of America’s Polarized Landscape (PDF) report. This is how they segmented the groups:

  • Progressive Activists: younger, highly engaged, secular, cosmopolitan, angry.

  • Traditional Liberals: older, retired, open to compromise, rational, cautious.

  • Passive Liberals: unhappy, insecure, distrustful, disillusioned.

  • Politically Disengaged: young, low income, distrustful, detached, patriotic, conspiratorial.

  • Moderates: engaged, civic-minded, middle-of-the-road, pessimistic, Protestant.

  • Traditional Conservatives: religious, middle class, patriotic, moralistic.

  • Devoted Conservatives: white, retired, highly engaged, uncompromising, patriotic

Where do I fit in this? I’m secular, cosmopolitan, retired, open to compromise, rational, detached, patriotic, and civic-minded.

Movies Watched -- Girls Trip (2017)

Added on by C. Maoxian.

122 minute running time so at least 20 to 30 minutes too long. I only made it 10 minutes in before going to 16x fast forward. This is so squarely aimed at black women of a certain age and class that it holds no appeal to anyone else. Who wants to watch foul-mouthed women with chemically-straightened hair spout vulgarities for two hours? Terrible. Red rating, avoid at all costs.

This made the Rotten Tomatoes Top 100 list, which shows you how broken that list is.

Donald Clarke’s review.

 Gag me with a banana

Gag me with a banana