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Hollow Men, Hollow Markets, Hollow World

Tyler Durden's picture




 

Submitted by Ben Hunt of Epsilon Theory

Kurtz: Did they say why, Willard, why they want to terminate my command?

Willard: I was sent on a classified mission, sir.

Kurtz: It's no longer classified, is it? Did they tell you?

Willard: They told me that you had gone totally insane, and that your methods were unsound.

Kurtz: Are my methods unsound?

Willard: I don't see any method at all, sir.

Kurtz: I expected someone like you. What did you expect? Are you an assassin?

Willard: I'm a soldier.

Kurtz: You're neither. You're an errand boy, sent by grocery clerks, to collect a bill.

It is my belief no man ever understands quite his own artful dodges to escape from the grim shadow of self-knowledge.
The question is not how to get cured, but how to live.

      Joseph Conrad (1857 – 1924)

 

Billions of dollars are flowing into online advertising. But marketers also are confronting an uncomfortable reality: rampant fraud.

 

About 36% of all Web traffic is considered fake, the product of computers hijacked by viruses and programmed to visit sites, according to estimates cited recently by the Interactive Advertising Bureau trade group.

      -- Wall Street Journal, “The Secret About Online Ad Traffic: One-Third Is Bogus”, March 23, 2014

 

Over the last decade, institutional management of equity portfolios has increased from 54% to 81%. …

 

Institutional buys and sells accounted for 47% of trading volume between 2001 and 2006, but only 29% of trading volume since 2008. …

 

One of the most significant results of the tension between fewer market participants and larger parent order sizes is that the share of ‘real’ trading volume has declined by around 40% in the last five years.

      -- Morgan Stanley QDS, “Real Trading Volume”, Charles Crow and Simon Emrich, April 11, 2012

 

Hollow Men, Hollow Markets, Hollow World

I first saw Apocalypse Now as a college freshman with two roommates, a couple of years after it had been released, and I can still recall the dazed pang of shock and exhaustion I felt when we stumbled out of the theatre. Nobody said anything on the drive back to campus. We were each lost in our thoughts, trying to process what we had just seen. Our focus was on Marlon Brando’s Col. Kurtz, of course, because we were 18-year old boys and he was a larger than life villain or anti-hero or superman or … something … we weren’t quite sure what he was, only that we couldn’t forget him.

When I reflect on the movie today, though, I find myself thinking less about Kurtz than I do about Martin Sheen’s Capt. Willard. Both Kurtz and Willard were self-aware. They had no illusions about their own actions or motivations, including the betrayals and murders they carried out. Both Kurtz and Willard saw through the veneer of the Vietnam War. They had no illusions regarding the essential hollowness of the entire enterprise, and they saw clearly the heart of darkness and horrific will that was left when you stripped away the surface trappings. So what made Willard stick with the mission? How was Willard able to navigate within a world he knew was playing him falsely, while Kurtz could not? I don’t want to say that I admire Willard, because there’s nothing really admirable there, and this isn’t going to be a web-lite note along the lines of “Three Things that Every Investor Should Learn from Apocalypse Now”. But there is a quality to Willard that I find useful in recalling whenever I am confronted with hard evidence that the world is playing me falsely. Or at least it helps keep me from shaving my head and going rogue.

The WSJ article cited above – where it now seems that more than one-third of all Web traffic is fake, generated by bots and zombies to create ad click-throughs and fake popularity – is a good example of what I’m talking about. One-third of all Web traffic? Fake? How is that possible? I mean … I understand how it’s technologically possible, but how is it possible that this sort of fraud has been going on for so long and to such a gargantuan degree that I don’t know about it or somehow feel it? I’m sure that anyone in e-commerce or network security will chuckle at my naïveté, but I was really rocked by this article. What else have I been told or led to believe about the Web is a lie?

But then I remember conversations I have with non-investor friends when I describe to them how little of trading volume today is real, i.e., between an actual buyer and an actual seller. I describe to them how as much as 70% of the trading activity in markets today – activity that generates the constantly changing up and down arrows and green and red numbers they see and react to on CNBC – is just machines talking to other machines, shifting shares around for “liquidity provision” or millisecond arbitrage opportunities. Even among real investors, individuals or institutions who own a portfolio of exposures and aren’t simply middlemen of one sort or another, so much of what we do is better described as positioning rather than investing, where we are rebalancing or tweaking a remarkably static portfolio against this generic risk or that generic risk rather than expressing an active opinion on the pros or cons of fractional ownership of a real-world company. Inevitably these non-investor friends are as slack-jawed at my picture of modern market structure as I am when I read this article about modern Web traffic structure. How can this be, they ask? I shrug. There is no answer. It just is.

My sense is that if you talk to a professional in any walk of life today, whether it’s technology or finance or medicine or law or government or whatever, you will hear a similar story of hollowness in their industry. The trappings, the facades, the faux this and faux that, the dislocation between public narrative and private practice … it’s everywhere. I understand that authenticity has always been a rare bird on an institutional or societal level. But there is something about the aftermath of the Great Recession, a something that is augmented by Big Data technology, that has made it okay to embrace public misdirection and miscommunication as an acceptable policy “tool”. It’s telling when Jon Stewart, a comedian, is the most authentic public figure I know. It’s troubling when I have to assume that everything I hear from any politician or any central banker is being said for effect, not for the straightforward expression of an honest opinion.

The question is not “Is it a Hollow World?”. If you’re reading Epsilon Theory I’m pretty sure that I don’t have to spend a lot of words convincing you of that fact. Nor is the question “How do we fix the Hollow World?”. Or at least that’s not my question. Sorry, but being a revolutionary is a young man’s game, and the pay is really bad. More seriously, I don’t think it’s possible to organize mass society in a non-hollow fashion without doing something about the “mass” part. So given that we are stuck in the world as it is, my question is “How do we adapt to a Hollow World?”. As Conrad wrote, the question is not how to get cured, but how to live. How do we make our way through the battlefield of modern economics and politics, a world that we know is hollow and false in so many important ways, without losing our minds and ending up in a metaphorical jungle muttering “the horror, the horror” to ourselves?

Two suggestions for adapting to the Hollow Market piece of a Hollow World, one defensive in nature and one for offense.

On defense, recognize that modern markets are, in fact, quite hollow and everything you hear from a public voice is being said for effect. But that doesn’t mean that the underlying economic activity of actual human beings and actual companies is similarly fake or bogus. The trick, I think, is to recognize the modern market for what it IS – a collection of socially constructed symbols, exactly like the chips in a casino, that we wager within games that combine a little skill with a lot of chance. There is a relationship between the chips and the real-world economic activity, but that relationship is never perfect and often exists as only the slimmest of threads. The games themselves are driven by the stories we are told, and there are rules to this game-playing that you can learn. But it’s a hard game to play, and it’s even harder to find a great game-player who will bet your chips on your behalf. A better strategy for most, I think, is to adopt an attitude of what I call profound agnosticism, where we assume that ALL of the stories we hear (including the narratives of economic science) are equally suspect, and we make no pretense of predicting what stories will pop up tomorrow or how the market will shape itself around them. What we want is to have as much connection to that underlying economic activity of actual human beings and actual companies as possible, and as little connection as possible to the game-playing and story-telling, no matter how strongly we’ve been trained to believe in this story or that. I think what emerges from this attitude can be an extremely robust portfolio supported by more-than-skin-deep diversification … a portfolio that balances historical risks and rewards rather than stories of risk and reward, a portfolio that looks for diversification in the investment DNA of a security or strategy as well as the asset class of a security or strategy.

On offense, look for investment opportunities where you have information that reflects an economic reality at odds with the public voices driving a market phenomenon. This is where you will find alpha. This is where you can generate potential returns when the economic reality is ultimately revealed as just that – reality – and the voices shift into some other story and the market matches what’s real. These opportunities tend to be discrete and occasional trades as opposed to long-standing strategies, because that’s the nature of the information beast – you will rarely capture it in a time and place where you can act on it. Almost by definition, if the information is being generated by a public voice it’s probably not actionable, or at the very least the asymmetric risk/reward will have been terribly muted. But when you find an opportunity like this, when you have a private insight or access to someone who does against a market backdrop of some price extreme … well, that’s a beautiful thing. Rare, but worth waiting for.

I’ll close with a few selected lines from TS Eliot’s The Hollow Men, because I’m always happy to celebrate a time when poets wore white-tie and tails, and because I think he’s got something important to say about information and communication, authenticity and deception.

Between the idea

And the reality

Between the motion

And the act

Falls the Shadow

What is the Shadow? I believe it’s the barrier that communication inevitably creates among humans, including the mental barriers that we raise in our own minds in our internal communications – our thoughts and self-awareness. Sometimes the Shadow is slight, as between two earnest and committed people speaking to each other with as much authenticity as each can muster, and sometimes the Shadow is overwhelming, as between a disembodied, mass-mediated crowd and a central banker using communication as “policy”. Wherever you find a Shadow you will find a hollowness, and right now the Shadows are spreading. This, I believe, creates both the greatest challenge and opportunity of our investment lives … not to pierce Eliot’s Shadows or to succumb to Conrad’s Heart of Darkness in our hollow markets, but to come to terms with their existence and permanence … to evade their influence as best we can, all the while looking for opportunities to profit from their influence on others.

 

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Mon, 03/31/2014 - 20:36 | 4612467 Latina Lover
Latina Lover's picture

Even worse, the governments are dominated by hollow persons with hollow hearts, that can only be filled with illusory money.

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 21:32 | 4612609 Surly Bear
Surly Bear's picture

The horror... the horror...

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 21:49 | 4612645 Almost Solvent
Almost Solvent's picture

"You're an errand boy, sent by grocery clerks, to collect a bill."

 

VISA: It's everywhere you want to collect a bill, or Priceless!

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 22:51 | 4612800 duo
duo's picture

Never get out of the boat.

Tue, 04/01/2014 - 00:06 | 4612941 H. Perowne
H. Perowne's picture

Charlie don't surf!

Tue, 04/01/2014 - 01:05 | 4613025 A Nanny Moose
A Nanny Moose's picture

"Charlie didn't get much USO. He was dug in too deep or moving too fast. His idea of great R&R was cold rice and a little rat meat..."

Tue, 04/01/2014 - 00:17 | 4612959 SF beatnik
SF beatnik's picture

Was it not the same year that "Kramer versus Kramer" won the big Academy awards?

 

Sad state of US culture. We're a bunch of retarded grocery clerks. 

Tue, 04/01/2014 - 01:11 | 4613032 A Nanny Moose
A Nanny Moose's picture

Fuck the Motion Picture Academy. Use to do work for them. Perhaps the only orginazation on the planet with tighter security than The Federal Reseve.

Never trust anyone who works under the veil of such secrecy....at least they don't have all the guns.

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 21:57 | 4612660 illyia
illyia's picture

The horror is that no one cares. That's what is hollow.

No commitment, no real investment, no great passion, its all just show, nothing of import, who cares.

It's all a bad joke...

That is really tragic. Imagine that those guys in WWII died for this...

HA. Now where's the joke...

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 22:06 | 4612680 THX 1178
THX 1178's picture

No one cares? Yes- as of right now. When the Shit hits the fan, I think everyone all around the world will suddenly find more than just a passing interest in politcal and economic and monetary matters.

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 22:57 | 4612811 ILLILLILLI
ILLILLILLI's picture

Too late, of course.

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 22:23 | 4612729 Snidley Whipsnae
Snidley Whipsnae's picture

"That is really tragic. Imagine that those guys in WWII died for this..."

Yeah, once that line is crossed from experimental capitalist republic to empire there seems to be no way back... or, maybe a few have reigned it in, like England... most didn't.

We are in a long list of countries that have gone down this road.

Tue, 04/01/2014 - 09:14 | 4613459 Raging Debate
Raging Debate's picture

Success leads to empire building and an ingrained behavior like the Romans: "We expand or we die!" England stayed intact by handing off the reigns of the global reserve currency to America. They cut there military to the bone which is what America is talking about doing and will. We also handed the infrastructure off to China who is becoming the next reaerve currency. The nation that holds the peg also is in charge of protecting global trade.

Why America did the job fairly well but became a bully. Less so than other empires like the British but still awful at it's end. There is no guarantee history has to repeat in world war but such transitions are always painful.

As budgets for defense and vote buying (entitlements) reach a certain point and the new host nation for reserve currency is set up, political insiders lott with abandon. America is getting it's house in order the most painful way but it is happening. Buy Yuan, it will begin to soar in the next 3-4 years.

The risk is geopolitical on return. Any major military would delay redemption so you may be holding it for a decade.

Of course, a nuclear war means all things reset to zero and for that risk, have a bug-out bag ready, food, water/purification like chlorine, matches wrapped in plastic, shotgun and scope, rope, thread/needles, heavy clothes, first aid kit, netting for bugs, knife, axe, fat such as crisco, compass and a wilderness survival manual.

I am going to keep trying to make money and make some more new friends and try to have fun. I love science and where as a species we're headed after whatever continuing readjustment occurs over the next several years.

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 22:25 | 4612736 Carpenter1
Carpenter1's picture

Enjoy your pathetic, short life.

 

Whether you have $5 or $5,000,000 doesn't make the slightest difference in the end. It all will return to dust, since that's all it ever was to start with. 

 

 

Tue, 04/01/2014 - 01:14 | 4613033 franciscopendergrass
franciscopendergrass's picture

+1000


illyia has me thinking now.  With the current state of our society, government, and economy, why did the poor souls die in WWII on both sides?  Are all of us just Captain Willards?

 

Tue, 04/01/2014 - 03:42 | 4613159 Canoe Driver
Canoe Driver's picture

And even more amusing, illyia, is that your thesis is essentially the same as Adolf's.

Sun, 04/13/2014 - 21:17 | 4655444 illyia
illyia's picture

Ha-Ha-Ha...

 

Tue, 04/01/2014 - 13:11 | 4614145 El Diablo Rojo
El Diablo Rojo's picture

The Best line in this article supports your statements illyia.

"Sorry, but being a revolutionary is a young man’s game, and the pay is really bad."

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 22:18 | 4612705 MeMongo
MeMongo's picture

"I was given a miision, and for my sins they gave me one".

Tue, 04/01/2014 - 03:37 | 4613156 Canoe Driver
Canoe Driver's picture

Hey look, Latina, we have basically the same avatar.

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 20:37 | 4612476 Mr Pink
Mon, 03/31/2014 - 23:03 | 4612825 ILLILLILLI
ILLILLILLI's picture

"The Los Angeles Times suspended the blog of one of its top columnists last night, saying he violated the paper's policy by posting derogatory comments under an assumed name.

The paper said in an online editor's note that Michael Hiltzik, a Pulitzer Prize winner who writes the Golden State column, had admitted posting remarks on both his Times blog and on other Web sites under names other than his own. The Times said it is investigating the matter. Editor Dean Baquet declined comment, and Hiltzik said he could not comment."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/20/AR200604...

 

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 23:51 | 4612918 Nick Jihad
Nick Jihad's picture

Click-baiting, by trolling his own articles?  Post an incendiary comment to your own article, then link to it from say, HuffPo, saying "this LAT blog has enraged the Teanazi-party!!!".

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 20:41 | 4612487 monkman
monkman's picture

gee, no mention of the obvious, eh?

The introduction from The Shadow radio program "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!" spoken by actor Frank Readick Jr., has earned a place in the American idiom. These words were accompanied by an ominous laugh and a musical theme, Camille Saint-Saëns' Le Rouet d'Omphale ("Omphale's Spinning Wheel", composed in 1872). At the end of each episode The Shadow reminded listeners that, "The weed of crime bears bitter fruit. Crime does not pay... The Shadow knows!"

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 20:45 | 4612495 fonzannoon
fonzannoon's picture

This is a lot of words to say btfd.

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 21:31 | 4612606 kaiserhoff
kaiserhoff's picture

Yeah, this Dude needs to buy a dog.

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 20:46 | 4612496 stant
stant's picture

Never get off the boat

Tue, 04/01/2014 - 00:33 | 4612982 TheMeatTrapper
TheMeatTrapper's picture

I love the smell of napalm in the morning. 

 

It smells like...victory.

 

One day this war's gonna end....

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 20:46 | 4612497 NoDebt
NoDebt's picture

So, everything's actuallty OK, then?

Buy stawks.  Got it.

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 20:48 | 4612498 10mm
10mm's picture

My top movie of all time. COL KURTZ ROCKS. The horror, the horror.

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 20:55 | 4612511 PaJoad
PaJoad's picture

All I wanted was some fucking mangoes....

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 21:02 | 4612529 magpie
magpie's picture

I think that's racist...

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 21:00 | 4612524 Ckierst1
Ckierst1's picture

Jon Stewart???  That phony interview ambushed Judge Napolitano with some 5 other shitheads and botched the job.  Not hollow?

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 21:03 | 4612533 fonzannoon
fonzannoon's picture

I have brought this up on here before and been ridiculed for it. Jon Stewart has emerged as "the truth in media". I am not saying I endorse this view. Just that it is becoming widely accepted. Stewart is more than your average useful tool.

Tue, 04/01/2014 - 11:15 | 4613775 agstacks
agstacks's picture

His interview with Alan Greespan (below) was pretty awesome.   He's not perfect, but with the media we have his brand of comedy is as close to investigative jounalisrm as there is.

http://thedailyshow.cc.com/videos/cenrt5/alan-greenspan

 

 

Tue, 04/01/2014 - 14:40 | 4614494 TheRedScourge
TheRedScourge's picture

Jon and his socialist A/V club claim to be strong supporters of raising the minimum wage, meanwhile they use unpaid interns almost exclusively.

Tue, 04/01/2014 - 08:01 | 4613332 Ghordius
Ghordius's picture

lol. I know what you mean, yet JN looked quite pleased to be cast in the role of the ambushed, the underdog, in my eyes

Stewart is quite reasonable, as long you don't touch what he holds as dear and holy. Judge Napolitano too

and there is their appeal

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 21:01 | 4612526 christofay
christofay's picture

Good quote from Conrad.

 

What is this Epsilon theory? I did the lazy way to research on wikipedia & amazon and didn't find anything that will quickly help me understand that

 

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 21:02 | 4612530 undertowed
undertowed's picture

Kurtz is no different than your average bank exec. INSANE.  This is the end, my friend. 

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 22:00 | 4612668 Snidley Whipsnae
Snidley Whipsnae's picture

"Kurtz is no different than your average bank exec. INSANE. "

Kurtz simply adopted the methods of the VC that his superiors sent him to fight. But, his methods were unacceptable to his superiors so he "was to be terminated with extreme prejudice." 

Remember when Kurtz related the story of the children of a village being inoculated against a disease? The VC came behind the American doctors and cut off all the arms of those inoculated children and left them in a pile in the village. Kurtz knew, in that instant, that to win he would have to adopt the same methods, or more brutal, as the VC, and he did. 

Having to employ those tactics over a few years would probably drive any rational man to insanity... imo.

Conrad did write some funny yarns in his collection of short stories "Tales of Land and Sea"... Most are much lighter and filled with irony...and humor.

Then there is 'Nostromo'... which I believe was also the name of the mining space ship in 'Alien'. Coincidence?

Tue, 04/01/2014 - 01:24 | 4613041 A Nanny Moose
A Nanny Moose's picture

"We train young men to drop fire on people, but their commanders won't allow them to write "fuck" on their airplanes because it's obscene!"

What's so Civil about War anyway? "Winning" frequently requires adopting more brutal methods than your enemy.

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 21:09 | 4612543 TrustWho
TrustWho's picture

I think this article is much too kind to the current situation. We live in a time ruled by lies and fraud by our leaders. I think this is why Putin has struck a chord with many. Here is a leader willing to take action based on his understanding of the truth and defend his position in a debate or on the battlefield. Is any political leader a good man who defends the defenseless before his back pocket?

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 21:47 | 4612640 Redneck Hippy
Redneck Hippy's picture

Putin is a gangster and a kleptocrat, not to mention a former KGB agent.  Anybody who's into Putin right now should consider from whence his love of authoritarians springs.

 

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 22:44 | 4612781 Errol
Errol's picture

Redneck, you are correct that Putin is a gangster; after the collapse of the Soviet Union previously-existing organized crime groups saw their opportunity and siezed it.  It took a Capo di tutti Capi to stop the disorder and establish a respected hierarchy.

Some non-Russians admire Putin for his foriegn policy experience, bare-knuckles rise thru VERY competitive ranks to a position of leadership, and committment to Russia first (not a shadowy group of "Multinationals").

Compare and contrast with the US narcicist-in-chief who never led any organization larger than the crew in the Choom Wagon, who lacks any foreign policy experience, and is house servant to a group of Multinationals.  Hint: "multinationals", as the name suggests, don't have allegience to any nation - only to self-continuation and accumulation of unlimited wealth.

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 23:58 | 4612927 Nick Jihad
Nick Jihad's picture

WTF? Admire Putin because he's more competent than Obama?  Sure, and I admired Kim Jong Il because he wasn't as batshit crazy as Pol Pot.

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 21:12 | 4612550 ramacers
ramacers's picture

and none other than that hollow man, yellen, knows judging from today's panic button push.

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 21:13 | 4612555 Tinky
Tinky's picture

"I remember when I was with Special Forces... seems a thousand centuries ago. We went into a camp to inoculate some children. We left the camp after we had inoculated the children for polio, and this old man came running after us and he was crying. He couldn't see. We went back there, and they had come and hacked off every inoculated arm. There they were in a pile. A pile of little arms. And I remember... I... I... I cried, I wept like some grandmother. I wanted to tear my teeth out; I didn't know what I wanted to do! And I want to remember it. I never want to forget it... I never want to forget. And then I realized... like I was shot... like I was shot with a diamond... a diamond bullet right through my forehead. And I thought, my God... the genius of that! The genius! The will to do that! Perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure. And then I realized they were stronger than we, because they could stand that these were not monsters, these were men... trained cadres. These men who fought with their hearts, who had families, who had children, who were filled with love... but they had the strength... the strength... to do that. If I had ten divisions of those men, our troubles here would be over very quickly. You have to have men who are moral... and at the same time who are able to utilize their primordial instincts to kill without feeling... without passion... without judgment... without judgment! Because it's judgment that defeats us."

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 21:27 | 4612597 eddiebe
eddiebe's picture

Yes might is right in this world. Their judgement to cut off all those arms sure defeated those little kids. Fucking humans are all insane.

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 22:14 | 4612700 Snidley Whipsnae
Snidley Whipsnae's picture

Tinky, I posted above before I saw your post... sorry.

When the slaughter of Russians began during operation Barbarosa (German invasion of Russia) German SS troops were being used to shoot the Russians standing in their mass graves.

It wasn't long before the SS troops had to be replaced by local villagers that worked for pay, to save their own lives, or simply to settle old scores and steal the property of those being shot. 

So, even hardened and loyal SS troops broke down under this type of duty after a few weeks or months.

Himmler traveled to the Eastern front and shot one Russian and became violently ill... and quickly returned to his search for the Holy Grail... or some other proof to German superiority.

Tue, 04/01/2014 - 09:54 | 4613551 Citxmech
Citxmech's picture

Check out the movie "The Act of Killing."   

Tue, 04/01/2014 - 00:18 | 4612958 dogismycopilot
dogismycopilot's picture

Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?

 

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it.

 

--60 Minutes (5/12/96)

 

Tue, 04/01/2014 - 01:25 | 4613046 franciscopendergrass
franciscopendergrass's picture

The horror.

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 21:13 | 4612556 booboo
booboo's picture

I'm not so fatalistic, we live in a fallen world, but "God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" believing and acting on that is work when we live in a constant midway of carnival barkers, images flashing, bells and whistles, legalized pick pockets and weak minded sloths that are our appointed "leaders". I can choose not to participate in most of it, the rest I let God figure out and so far it's been a good life, good wife and fine young sons who are passing it on. Turning off the TV is the first step. Other then that, the best trades you will ever make will be betting on yourself. Life has sucked from the dawn of man and there has never been a period where strife, greed, malice and murder has not been wolven into the fabric. Having hoards of barbarians battering down the city gates intent on grinding everyone inside into dust is my idea of a shitty day, everything else is just gravey. The key to "happiness" is being thankful. It would not hurt to turn of the Hedge for a while too, afterall we are what we eat and good news is not the story here but I do love the pithy posters for a good laugh.

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 21:50 | 4612649 Cabreado
Cabreado's picture

"The key to "happiness" is being thankful."

With due respect, I believe your sentiment ultimately leads to misery for many...

I suggest that the key to "happiness" is truth, and your neglect of the lies only helps the process along.

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 22:13 | 4612698 booboo
booboo's picture

"With due respect, I believe your sentiment ultimately leads to misery for many"

Wrong, wrong, and......... WRONG

 

Tue, 04/01/2014 - 01:34 | 4613050 A Nanny Moose
A Nanny Moose's picture

So we should not seek the truth? Should we simply accept that which is handed to us by slave masters, to whom we've outsourced critical thinking skills?

God? What happens when those masters begin to say that they were ordained by God (scimitars, Ladies of the Lake, Watery Tarts, and all that horseshit??) ....oh wait, the entire planet has been down that path already.

Perhaps God is sittin' this one out?

Tue, 04/01/2014 - 00:13 | 4612955 Bdelande
Bdelande's picture

You can be thankful and stand up for truth all at the same time, they are not mutualy exclusive?

Tue, 04/01/2014 - 11:07 | 4613769 Raging Debate
Raging Debate's picture

Cabreado - It is true that "the truth shall set you free." But what does one do afterward? Boodo was ackowledingly a harsh world not ignoring it. Perhaps after he realized the truth he decided to have a positive outlook.
"They were the best of times and the worst of times."

I think that's true of every year on earth although certainly in scale some seasons are worse than others.

I agree with that other poster it is healthy to get out and face some fears because the rewards of making some friends or collaborting to get something done far supercede the knicks one will take for doing so.

I love Apocalypse Now. I am under no illusions. Someday, we might be the VC and if and when that time comes I'll do what needs to be done.

PS - Am getting tired of Putin dick sucking here. Putin is behaving like any leader would when facing a superior force with his back to the wall. I respect his balls and intelligence compared to our leadership but enough already!

Tue, 04/01/2014 - 03:51 | 4613165 Canoe Driver
Canoe Driver's picture

There are few things more pernicious, boo, than the notion that things are not bad until the enemy is at the gates. An employee of mine once insisted that it's not the "end of the world" until you "can't breathe." Hogwash.

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 21:16 | 4612564 eddiebe
eddiebe's picture

There's another movie that is a classic and it's title fits in nicely with what is going on at the top of the pile: Hang 'em high!

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 21:24 | 4612588 Billy Shears
Billy Shears's picture

I worry that my son might not understand what I've tried to be. And if I were to be killed, Willard, I would want someone to go to my home and tell my son everything. Everything I did, everything you saw, because there's nothing that I detest more than the stench of lies. And if you understand me, Willard, you will do this for me.

COLONEL WALTER E. KURTZ

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 21:39 | 4612620 nmewn
nmewn's picture

Plus one.

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 21:35 | 4612614 nmewn
nmewn's picture

"What else have I been told or led to believe about the Web is a lie?"

Anything and everything you never bother to substantiate for yourself and accept at face value. Its not our problem, its yours.

Kinda like with this:

"...it now seems that more than one-third of all Web traffic is fake, generated by bots and zombies to create ad click-throughs and fake popularity – is a good example of what I’m talking about. One-third of all Web traffic? Fake? How is that possible?"

Someone or something paying people in BitCoin (for example, payment type doesn't matter, stay with the subect under discussion, its not a slam on BitCoin that is my object) all day to click on websites/vids and whatnot, like homeless people, bums, winos etc...whatever. It was presented as "helpful". Almost charity, at no cost, wasn't it?

Just pennies.

No thought is ever given as to why someone or something would pay for that. No thought of the abuse of someone in those circumstances either. And no thought of the deception of the act.

It seemed like a win-win and poking a finger in the eye of the man, didn't it?

And now everyones shocked...lol.

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 21:41 | 4612623 10mm
10mm's picture

What do you call the assasions who kill the assasion. A lier.

Tue, 04/01/2014 - 01:55 | 4613069 SameAsItEverWas
SameAsItEverWas's picture

Sic!

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 21:42 | 4612627 barwar
barwar's picture

Well written, kudos to the author.  Break up your paragraphs into smaller, easier on the eye bite size pieces but well done.

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 22:10 | 4612683 Dickweed Wang
Dickweed Wang's picture

So basically the guy is saying "you can't change shit so just deal with it" . . . . what a fucked up attitude! If this guy's view point represents a good portion of society then we are screwed.

Also, if over 1/3 of the web is fake why is it that I have never run into one of those issues (or sites) and no-one I know of has?  If 1/3 of the web was fake you would think I would run into that stuff on a regular basis.  Looks to me like that [bullshit] story in the WSJ might have some other agenda behind it, like; "we need to control the web because of all those fake sites out there".

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 23:09 | 4612837 Advoc8tr
Advoc8tr's picture

1/3 of the web is not fake ... it is full of very real people paying very real advertising bills - 1/3 of the traffic visiting sites and clicking on an ad that then generates a charge to the advertiser is reported as fake.   As an web-surfer you'll never notice this as it is no different than both of us reading this page at the same time ... makes no difference to your experience.

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 23:24 | 4612867 Terminus C
Terminus C's picture

Uh, fake traffic, not fake sites.

Fake traffic allows companies like farce book to bill their advertisers more than they otherwise would have. Create some viruses, increase click throughs, profit.

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 22:23 | 4612726 22winmag
22winmag's picture

Everyone gets everything he wants. I wanted a mission, and for my sins, they gave me one. Brought it up to me like room service. It was a real choice mission, and when it was over, I never wanted another.

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 22:28 | 4612746 dizzyfingers
dizzyfingers's picture

The "answer"? Stop playing the games. Decide what's most important and rebuild life around that.

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 22:41 | 4612777 Creepy Lurker
Creepy Lurker's picture

Bingo.

I am sometimes utterly astonished when someone hits on a profound truth yet has no idea what they have just done, like this author. That he concludes with 'buy stawks' proves it.

A hollow world full of hollow men. Indeed.

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 22:37 | 4612771 Son of Captain Nemo
Son of Captain Nemo's picture

With the exception of the comment that "Jon Stewart is one of the most authentic public figures"... Please!... This is one that was both very timely and memorable.

Always been a fan of Conrad's "Heart of Darkness"

Thanks

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 23:06 | 4612834 Frozen
Frozen's picture

And soon, Hollow Points.

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 23:28 | 4612845 TheAnswerIs42
TheAnswerIs42's picture

Eventually we will all get old and die.

Life goes on.

Mom never said it would be easy.

Deal with it.

 

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 23:19 | 4612853 PeeramidIdeologies
PeeramidIdeologies's picture

Hollow markets indeed. HFT perpetual money making machines cycling digital numbers back and forth as communities break down, people starve, and the wealth of a nation consolidates into a few unstable hands, who believe they can control the world.... Amazing.

No offence to the author but his investing techniques are a little too conventional for my tastes. A little too wolf of Wall Street, not enough Forrest Gump. What I would would like to see, is a fresh take on investing. A completely new (or perhaps not if you were an investor in another time ) concept, one that doesn't involve IPO's, transaction fees, or the deception of Wall Street's career criminals.

I get it, I do, it's easy, or relatively so, to invest in today's world. You hand over your cash, pay your fee's and the Feds got your back. But is it effective? Is it fullfilling? If the markets "collapse" suddenly, what exactly have you invested in?

I read a book the other day about a small start-up company that was randomly approached by an inconspicuous elderly gentleman that had a lot more to invest then just money. I'll spare the you the complete summary as I don't type for my health, but while the story was set through the eyes of the companies owner, I couldn't help but think about the situation through the eyes of the investor. This guy selected his investment opportunity from his own community. He invested time, knowledge, and himself into this company, resources that are far more valuable then fiat paper. He wasn't held hostage by the market, and had there been a market crash he would maintain a stake in more then an empty bag. This technique makes far more sense to me then any of the strategies I come across on the internet. But the moral of the story, of course, is fuck Wall Street.

Tue, 04/01/2014 - 00:10 | 4612947 kurt
kurt's picture

Apocawebtraficlypse

Tue, 04/01/2014 - 00:24 | 4612969 dogismycopilot
dogismycopilot's picture

staying clean when you live in filth requires superhuman power.

very few have that power.

 

Tue, 04/01/2014 - 00:52 | 4612983 Radical Marijuana
Radical Marijuana's picture

"How was Willard able to navigate within a world he knew was playing him falsely, while Kurtz could not?"

Willard had a duty to kill one man, in a possible way. Kurtz had a duty to kill millions of men, but he was not allowed to do so, due to the way that his executing his operational duty had crossed over the boundary of sanity into the insanity of weapons of mass destruction. Willard was able to use conventional weapons, to achieve a conventional mission. Kurtz was not allowed to use weapons of mass destruction, to achieve his mission in an objectively efficient way, because of the real threat of any actual use of weapons of mass destruction spinning out of control.

The war that Kurtz was a general in was the first war where the reality of weapons of mass destruction had reached the thresdhold where engaging in that kind of war could result in the almost total destruction of civilization on the whole planet. Kurtz was justifiably insane, because he had been givern an insane mission, which could not be accomlished in any sane way. Kurtz was put into the most extreme paradoxical double-bind Catch 22, more so than any general in previously known human history had ever been placed into.

"Hollow Men" is such a 19th Century, old-fashioned level of poetic understanding. It is such an old-fashioned, 19th Century question to ask “How do we adapt to a Hollow World?”  The question in the 21st Century is how do we adapt to a runaway criminally insane world, because, in the 21st Century, we are now DEEP INTO RUNAWAY COLLECTIVE CRIMINAL INSANITIES, DUE TO ATTEMPTING TO MAINTAIN ATTITUDES OF EVIL DELIBERATE IGNORANCE TOWARDS THE EXISTENCE OF AN ABUNDANCE OF WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION.

The world is still overflowing with guys like Willard, who are able to maintain the sublime cognitive dissonance of operating in conventional ways, to achieve conventional objectives, DESPITE THAT THE REAL WORLD AROUND THEM HAS BECOME GLOBALIZED ELECTRONIC FRAUDS, BACKED BY ATOMIC BOMB FORCES. Kurtz is what happens when someone who is competent to think about those PROBLEMS actually does so. Meanwhile, the overwhelming vast majority of the rest of the human species is behaving like Willard ...

Anybody who has been reading my comments posted on Zero Hedge will recognize that I have been attempting to theoretically work through the PROBLEMS that Kurtz dramatized. I.e., how to cope with the fact that "money" is measurement backed by murder, after that "money" has become electronic, and the threats of force to back that fraud up have become atomic. However, since the overwhelming vast majority of human beings continue to operate at a level like Willard, or usually far below, attempting to comprehend how Kurtz should deal with his real PROBLEMS is somthing that continues to mostly not even be remotely considered by our current culture.

Progress based on profound paradigm shifts in sciences like physics have enabled things like electronic and atomic technologies to become trillions of times more capable and powerful, while all of our politics continues to be able to operate like Willard, rather than like Kurtz. The basic structure of our civilization was created by the history of warfare. The successes in warfare based on backing up deceits with destruction enabled building a financial world based on backing up frauds with force. That that has become PROBLEMATIC electronic frauds, backed the threat of the force of atomic bombs, is something that we have, so far, been able to collectively maintain an attitude of evil deliberate ignorance towards.

Theoretically, we should be going through intellectual scientific revolutions, that would apply to politics in general, and especially to militarism in particular, regarding how to operate the necessary death controls backing up the debt controls, after those have become backed and based upon atomic bombs and electronic frauds? However, in practice, whomever might be like Kurtz in that regard is still being wiped out by the overwhelming numbers of Willards, that manage to continue to mostly not think about that.

Tue, 04/01/2014 - 01:37 | 4613056 Clowns on Acid
Clowns on Acid's picture

Well written Rad. Congrats.

Tue, 04/01/2014 - 09:57 | 4613559 muleskinner
muleskinner's picture

You got me on the first 2 sentences and then I read the whole doggone thing.  You can't write those things, electronic cash backed by atomic force is too radical.  Cut it out.  Quit thinking.

Then, after I am done reading it all, I have to scroll all the way back to the top and go green.

I am beginning to think it is all in copout mode.

 

Tue, 04/01/2014 - 01:32 | 4613052 franciscopendergrass
franciscopendergrass's picture

We live in a society of fake tits, push up bras, viagra, payday loans, fake Web traffic, govt propaganda, lies spewed by the MSM, fake economic data, Ponza schemes passed as investments.  Nothing is real.   The only thing to do is to play the game, know for yourself what is real and what is fake, don't get caught into the hype and learn to profit/protect yourself from the effects of our messed up society.

Tue, 04/01/2014 - 07:00 | 4613275 ParkAveFlasher
ParkAveFlasher's picture

There are real tits out there.  Let's not get carried away.

Tue, 04/01/2014 - 03:31 | 4613153 francis.sawyer001
francis.sawyer001's picture

MH370 Malay gubmint admits that PILOT who called in the "GOOD NIGHT" was not the pilot in COMMAND at take-off,

They never got the message that they said they got ...

http://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/malaysianairlinemystery2014/rac...

"We would like to confirm that the last conversation in the transcript between the air traffic controller and the cockpit is at 0119 (Malaysian Time) and is "Good night Malaysian three seven zero," the Department of Civil Aviation said in a statement late on Monday.

Minutes later its communications were cut off and it turned back across Malaysia and headed toward the Indian Ocean.

Malaysia's ambassador to China told Chinese families in Beijing as early as March 12, four days after the flight went missing, that the last words had been "All right, good night".

The statement said authorities were still conducting "forensic investigation" to determine whether the last words from the cockpit were by the pilot or the co-pilot. Previously, Malaysia Airlines has said that the words were believed to have come from the co-pilot.

Tue, 04/01/2014 - 03:53 | 4613169 Canoe Driver
Canoe Driver's picture

Diego Garcia is an Hispanic musician.

Tue, 04/01/2014 - 05:32 | 4613229 Grouchy Marx
Grouchy Marx's picture

I'm trying to ascertain which 1/3 of ZH commenters are bogus. If it's not the post before me or after me, it could be me? Another damn existential crisis.

Tue, 04/01/2014 - 06:02 | 4613241 dogismycopilot
dogismycopilot's picture

apocolypse redoux is well worth seeing. it explains why they have Col Kilgore's surfboard in their PT boat in a few scenes: because they fucking stole it!

Tue, 04/01/2014 - 06:28 | 4613255 Disenchanted
Disenchanted's picture

Speaking of T.S. Eliot:

 

The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms


In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river


Sightless, unless
The eyes reappear
As the perpetual star
Multifoliate rose
Of death's twilight kingdom
The hope only
Of empty men.
Tue, 04/01/2014 - 06:49 | 4613268 nmewn
nmewn's picture

Excellent, plus one.

Tue, 04/01/2014 - 08:10 | 4613345 Oldwood
Oldwood's picture

We are hollow because so many seek to profit from means other than productive ones. So few now days have ever "made" anything so I don't imagine they have a clue of what I speak. The world now believes that the only source of happiness, or personal satisfaction comes through money and those toys which it will buy, and the easier that money comes, the sweeter it is. Gamblers epitomize this mentality, be it through casinos or the markets, such as they are. Society can afford the drag that these leaches impose as long as it is in small doses, but now vampires and zombies seem to be all the vogue. The lottery seems innocent enough but imagine if we all abandoned our work to instead buy lotto tickets. We would see a massive wealth redistribution to  very few while all else starved to death. This is what is happening now.

Tue, 04/01/2014 - 08:11 | 4613346 Dollar Bill Hiccup
Dollar Bill Hiccup's picture

Fuck you Feinstein.

Tue, 04/01/2014 - 08:25 | 4613353 RaceToTheBottom
RaceToTheBottom's picture

When something costs nothing, it is also worth nothing.

 

Clicks.

Dollars.

Liquidity seeking HF trades

 

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