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Dr. Spider's  Instablog

Dr. Spider
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Proverbial Jack of all trades and master of none. Many interests, many children, and many confused ideas. Not afraid to hold three or four incompatible ideas in my head at the same time. Much too emotional to ever be any good at investing. Should really buy index funds and forget it, but I am... More
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  • What Is Pneumonia, Anyway?

    An old Pulmonolgist once told me that the longer he practiced medicine, the less sure he became exactly what Pneumonia was. I was in medical school when he told me this, and I thought he was a little crazy. I mean, pneumonia is a very basic and common infection, and this guy was a lung specialist, for crying out loud. I thought he must have been getting a little senile.

    Now I've been practicing Pediatrics for 13 years, and every time I see a borderline chest X-ray of a fairly well child get read as "Pneumonia," I can't help but smile to myself. I totally get it.

    I have these same thoughts when it comes to investing. I read an article that says "Do this," or "This is going to happen," or "Buy this company," and I shake my head.

    My point is simply this. The longer you do something, the more you know about it, the more of an expert you become on a given subject, the harder it is to succinctly express your opinion.

    And, in a very real sense, that is what investing is. It is saying, with your money, "This is what I think is going to happen." And I just cannot succinctly guess. Maybe it's the times; maybe the future always looks like this.

    So I can't help but be drawn to an investing philosophy like Nassim Taleb's, where one just makes option bets on lots of unexpected, and therefore underpriced, events. But I can't for the life of me figure how to apply that to actual investing. Options are sold by really smart people that make their living off doctors that have more money than knowledge or sense. Still seems like a sucker's game to me.

    I don't know how to make money off it, but I am certain that shocks both directions are in store in the next 12 months. How about that for a earth-shattering prediction?


    Dec 09 10:09 AM | Link | 2 Comments
  • Oh, Yeah, I'm Still The Mark

    Well I was smart enough to raise some cash the last few months getting ready for this almost guaranteed pull back in the stock market. But I thought it was going to be faster and harder. Now we are having this slow, painful descent, and I just don't have the guts to jump in here.

    It seems to me that there is a good reason for the market to pull back. It needs to come in a lot more, to me. If Apple is only worth a PE of 12, where does that leave anyone else?!? I just don't understand anything these days.

    I didn't understand the last few years when the cyclicals were flying up. Didn't the people buying these stocks know the recovery was slow? Were they not reading the same news I was? When Terex (which I own a lot of) got north of 30, I was so confused. But I didn't sell, because I am terrible about holding losers and selling winners prematurely. Well, heck, TEX is at 14 again. Still above my cost basis, but, but, but its was over $30! Makes me sick.

    So things look pretty ugly again. The bottom could be a long way away. Guess I'm a sucker again and won't be buying anything for a while.


    Disclosure: I am long AAPL, CAT, SPY, TEX.

    Dec 03 8:19 AM | Link | Comment!
  • Crazies

    You know, the older I get the less sure I am of anything. Not to sound like an old man, but nothing seems certain to me anymore. And I think the internet exacerbates this. Want 156 very reasonable, yet completely incompatible, opinions in .68 seconds? That is what Google is for!

    When I was growing up, people who thought Fed reserve conspiracies were real were the cuckoos. Now, a libertarian doctor from Texas and a socialist from the northeast have teamed up in congress to say, "Yeah, all the conspiracies are true."

    People that thought the fluoride in the water was hurting us were crazy people. Now? The EPA says, "Uh, maybe we have been putting too much fluoride in the water...." WHAT? I've been special ordering fluoridated water for my kids because the "experts" at the Med School and dental school said I should. And now maybe it is making them dumber?!?

    And, I always thought people that said the "right" and the "left" were two sides of the same coin and the whole system was just designed to enrich the "haves" were ridiculous cynics. Now, to me anyway, those people seem like the most reasonable people in the room. Read this and see if you agree:

    What do you think?


    Tags: cynicism, crazies
    Dec 03 8:13 AM | Link | Comment!
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