Enjoying PGA Championship, Beautiful Saturday in NYC

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Whistling Straits PGA Championship golf courseWatching PGA Championship, writing my random thoughts

What a beautiful day in NYC today as I hang out watching the PGA Championship being played on my home state of Wisconsin's beautiful Whistling Straits golf course. Does it get any better than a major golf tournament, a cold beer and a nice breeze? Following Tiger's worst performance of his entire PGA career shooting 18-over at the Bridgestone Invitational, he is back and playing somewhat better this weekend. It is pretty incredible how mental golf is and how easily an unsettled mind will filter into a player's game. It reminds me of how easy it is to blow through capital in a trading account when the mind is in the wrong place.

I am back to the trading floor this week after an entire week of serving on the jury of a criminal trial last week. This is the second criminal trial that I have sat on as a juror and it does not get any easier to decide the fate of another's life. While jurors are instructed to ignore the consequences of their decision and simply discern on matters of fact, it is still impossible not to feel sick as the judgment is read. Yet, I am a believer in our system of justice and I am more than willing to fulfill my civic duty.

Now that the dust has settled on the Panic of 2008, I put my Barnes & Noble membership to good use this weekend and picked up what I have come to think are the best books written about the crash. I went with Michael Lewis' The Big Short, Zuckerman's The Greatest Trade Ever, Lowenstein's The End of Wall Street, Ritholtz's Bailout Nation, Scott Patterson's The Quants and just for fun the unrelated Catching the Wolf of Wall Street because Belfort is a maniac and The Wolf of Wall Street was way to entertaining not to read his second book. I know my good buddy Elliot would tell me I need some Stiglitz and Minsky as well but there's only so much time and I find the financial market approach just more engaging than the economic or political approach to the problems we saw. Anyways, once I finish up How I Became a Quant and Cramer's Getting Back to Even I should be kept busy enough for a while.

A business in cyberspace, and nowhere else

The Week magazine has an excellent article titled "The WikiLeaks way" describing the history of the website that made headlines last month after "it released 90,000 classified U.S. military documents from Afghanistan". I found one particular section of the article fascinating:
How does the site operate?

Certainly not transparently. People with access to controversial or classified documents send them to the site, often anonymously. Then a group of volunteer editors decides what information is important and reliable, and publishes it accordingly. Operating from undisclosed and changing locations around the world, WikiLeaks maintains its content on more than 20 servers and under hundreds of domain names, and its most sensitive information passes through countries that offer it legal protection, including Sweden, Iceland, and Belgium. WikiLeaks is almost impossible to sue because it exists mostly in cyberspace, and it can't be shut down because it has an elaborate cybersecurity system devised by devoted computer geeks. With just five paid staff members, it's supported mainly through donations of time and money from leftist activists and other who believe in its mission.
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