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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Brief History of Great Guys

They say that "on the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog" and that's a good thing since it allows us to concentrate on the argument itself rather than on who is making the argument. While I can't rationally disagree with that, not knowing who's making the argument still doesn't sit well with me, and I often find myself curious about a person who posts something on a blog.

In a recent comment on this blog, erp asked:
I see this was posted by Howard, but Howard who and who are the other great guys posting on this blog?
Since I can relate to erp's curiosity, I've decided to post the following history of this blog.

Eight of us who went to the same college (MIT) and now live all over the place get together once a year (usually sans spouses and children). We jokingly call it the Great Guys weekend. It's certainly a great weekend for us guys! We had such enjoyable conversations during those weekends that we decided to start up a private team blog to continue the conversations (in writing) throughout the year.

Two or three of us never posted at all and two or three others only ever posted a handful a times. Three of us were very active in the beginning. One of those three dropped out after a few months. There was one guest blogger a year or so ago (not one of the original "Great Guys"), but he also stopped posting after just a handful of posts. It seems that this blogging thing takes somewhat more energy and/or a thicker skin than most people have.

That left Howard and me as the only active members.

To answer erp's question almost directly, Howard is a turtle. Really! I'm not kidding! Not the type with a shell, of course, but rather this type:
To settle this dispute with William Eckhardt, a friend and fellow trader, in 1983 Dennis recruited and trained 13 people who became known as the "turtles." Many turtles have gone on to successful careers as commodity trading advisors.
Howard is still trading futures. He's one of those boring, single career type people.

Not me! I'm well into my third career. Signal and telemetry processing systems for defense applications in the 1980s, working with Howard to provide him with computer support for financial data collection and artificial intelligence modeling for his futures trading in the 1990s (I also traded futures privately), and vision based robotics in the 2000s. I'm not sure what I'll do during the 2010s, but I doubt it could be any more fun than the futures trading or the robotics. Perhaps I'll just be an old stuck-in-the-mud and stay with robotics.

Futures trading is an extremely unforgiving occupation. Every mistake, every misconception about how economies and markets work, and every hint of arrogance and certitude is immediately and irrevocably punished by the markets. I read tens of thousands of pages about markets, economics, and finance during those years I worked with Howard and Howard's study dwarfed mine by an order of magnitude. I believe that study coupled with the immediate and harsh feedback provided by the futures markets leads to a very specific and practical worldview. If Howard and I seem to have a very similar perspective, that's probably why.


erp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
erp said...

Re: cartoon. Nobody knows you're a geezerette either.

MIT - High Finance - and Blogging. Very impressive. So nice to formally meet you both.