Thursday, January 29, 2009


When someone says, why should the rich pay more in tax, I say, why should the rich be rich?

Of course you believe the rich should be rich if you believe you might be rich. But it doesn't make sense if you will always be poor. It used to be that people knew their station, and knew they could not become rich. Now they believe that the government will steal what's theirs should they win the lottery or have a hit pop single.

There are so many celebrities on TV that they have lost sight of how few people strike it lucky. No one reflects long on broken dreams.


A free market only seems like a good idea if you benefit from it. And if you benefit from it a great deal, it must surely occur to you that it cannot be fair.

Markets would only be free if all were free to compete. Which they are not.

I do not get to have my book published and let the market decide whether it's good. If the market's gatekeeper does not like my book, I have to use means to publish it that do not afford me equal access to the market.

The same is true of access to riches, but the argument would require more development than I have time for.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


My finger feels twisted when I touch it, but it doesn't hurt. Sometimes when I think about how there are bones beneath my skin, I feel scared. I think about the Elizabethans, who would keep a skull on their desk as a memento mori, and I ask myself why on earth you'd want reminding that you're going to die.


I was going to write more, but all it is is blah blah blah. I am considering the mystery of why when I type finger, I without fail spell it giner. This is the most interesting thing about me today.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

On goals

So here's the thing. I'm going to think out loud, and you get to read it. Good huh?

I have a problem. It's a mental thing. I don't know whether it's inherent or the outcome of years of being an editor, but it doesn't really matter, because it exists whichever way it came to be.

What it is, I'm goal oriented. When I face a task, I need to know what the outcome is supposed to be. And I mean, I need it. Without a defined goal, I become paralysed and unable to work at the task.

I suppose it's a good thing that I've recognised it, because it much more readily explains why I'm lazy than just believing I'm lazy. Because, really, I can do a ton of work if I am properly motivated, so laziness is not really a good explanation.

I realised that I have this problem by thinking about why I hate authoring courses so much. I should be good at it: after all, I believe myself to be a good writer, and it's at least true that I have no problem just writing whatever I want to. I don't struggle to put words together. So why do I hate writing courses? I think the reason is that my briefs are usually too open-ended. I don't know what my output is supposed to look like, and actually neither does my boss. So she fiddles a lot with what I've done, and I don't like that. When I edit, I know what the output is supposed to look like, and I have one of those minds that sees when things are "wrong". But if I don't have a good model of what's right, wrong is impossible to find.

More importantly, it's also hampering my poker, because I find it hard to motivate myself to study. I need to gain skills, particularly in ICM, that require a lot of hard study. But I can't motivate myself to do it. (I have an incentive for doing it: I can make money; but I can't make myself get down to it.) The work is not daunting: if I did three hours a night for a month, I would be skilled enough for my purposes, and do it for three months and I'd likely be as good as anyone.

I say "would be skilled enough" but the problem is that I don't know what "skilled enough" looks like or feels like and I don't know how to acquire the skills. Should I study my games and look deeply into spots I got into? Should I be systematic and work on spots that way? Should I enquire more deeply into the mathematics? Should I just look at tons of hands and hope it somehow soaks in? Different people suggest different methods, which implies there is no "right" way. But there will, I think, be a right way for me.

I am not seeking a functional understanding of ICM, nor am I trying to find a bodge that will "work". Some players do: they build charts that are enough to keep you profitable but are not even close to accurate. I want something more than that. I want to be able to look at a spot and know what I should do. I don't want to be guessing, as I am now. I want to know. I will make a lot of money if I acquire that ability. It is the single most valuable skill in the form of poker I play.

The problem, in case I'm not clear enough, is that I can't say "do thirty hours of button shoves and you'll understand button shoves to the required level" or "do thirty hours of equity calculations by hand and you'll understand the maths to the point where you can analyse shoves on the fly". There is no "do x, gain y" here that I know of. Or if there is, I don't know what it is.

Also, more importantly, I don't know what knowing ICM would be like. If you're struggling to understand the problem, let me explain by showing you learning with a defined goal. Take being a doctor. When you study medicine, you have a structured route to knowledge. Do the training, understand the human body. You understand it by learning different facts about different things. The body of knowledge required is purely external to you. You could be handed a (big) book with everything you need to know, and then simply study it until you had it down. The incentive for doing it is you get to be a doctor; the route to achieving it is to acquire and remember the knowledge. So someone presents with a cough, and you have a decision tree for coughs that you understand and can follow. Well, in a sense, what I want to achieve is the same. If I have 1.2K on the button and it's t150, my decision can be set out as a decision tree. I just don't know how to make the tree, and although it can be written down, it's not something you can study and remember. It's something you need to internalise.

So what's the solution? I'm thinking that probably I should try to find smaller goals, which I can define more easily, and pursue those. It's not easy, of course, to know which small goals will build into the bigger one, but it should be possible to find goals that I know will at least increase my skill.

And, yes, I know that it's perfectly possible that I'm overthinking it, and that just doing something would be much much better than being paralysed. I know that. I'm rational, after all. But we are beings who can know things for a certainly and still not be able to overcome the things that block us. Try telling someone with arachnophobia that spiders cannot hurt them.