NEW YORK – Fannie Mae, Merrill Lynch and all of your least favorite Wall Street players were seen brawling in the streets this evening. The winner will claim an extra trillion dollar bailout. It’s a financial crisis of epic proportions!
Wall Street Fighter 4
Rabid fans of mixed martial arts often consider their sport to be a proven, scientific, and highly evolved form of fighting. Modern MMA practices are contrasted with those of American Judo and Karate-do—unwittingly cast to represent “traditional martial arts” at large—and judged uniformly superior.
Putting aside the revisionist history underlying such comparisons, let us consider the possibility and implications of MMA’s evolution. What can Darwin’s theory teach us about the present state, predict for the future fate of mixed martial arts?
Ask a Dodo About MMA
Many centuries ago, a flock of pigeons departed their native land, roosting on the tiny Indian island of Mauritius. Enjoyed the relaxing tropical atmosphere, and an environment free of natural predators, they decided to stay awhile.
While the vast ocean protected the birds from attack, evolutionary forces reshaped their bodies and minds. Continue reading The Evolution of MMA and Dodo Birds
Many long-term students of Taiji enjoy improvements in their metabolic and kinesthetic efficiency. They burn fewer calories, and expend less effort, to accomplish the same amount of work, whether that “work” consists of repeating the Taiji forms or any other activity.
When food is scarce and plain, this efficiency is an obvious benefit. For most people living in developed countries today, however, food is abundant and tasty. To a person who has become addicted to eating—as the majority of Americans are, studies show—this hard-earned fruition of Taiji is actually a problem: it makes you fat. (Technically, eating the food makes you fat, but let us ignore that detail, as everyone does.)
Dedicating oneself to longer and more strenuous practice might seem like an intelligent solution. Unfortunately, this is likely to accelerate the efficiency gains, exacerbating the problem in the long run. If we choose to define physical fitness as effort and exertion, then Taiji is a lousy fitness routine.
A comfortable and plausible short-term solution: redefine success as failure, and vice-versa. Prioritize effort expended, rather than work accomplished. Sure, your new Taiji may be less functional, but at least you’ll look good doing it!
The more responsible, but less appealing solution is to start eating within your means: to consume calories in accordance with physical needs, rather than insatiable desires. In the meantime, returning to one’s target weight requires a disciplined starvation diet, in conjunction with regular exercise.
Can we view this scenario as a metaphor for the United States economy? Continue reading The Taiji Solution to Weight Loss and Fiscal Solvency
This is Zen:
Two hands clap and there is a sound. What is the sound of one hand?
This is not Zen:
Tazo Zen Tea (24 bags)
An enlightening blend of the finest green teas and rare herbs available in this world.
Continue reading This is Zen, This is Not Zen
A Fake Interview with Real* Quotes
Credit: Mark Hirschey
Martial Development: First of all, congratulations: a recent surge in Berkshire Hathaway’s stock price has made you the richest man in the world. $62 billion dollars, I hear. According to my estimates, you could literally buy up all the tea in China.
Warren Buffett: I drink Coca-Cola.
Martial Development: Fair enough. You know, kung fu is all about profitably investing time and effort. As one of the world’s greatest investors, I thought you might have some unique insights to share with us.
Warren Buffett: I’ve never even made a hostile acquisition! What do I know about kung fu?
Martial Development: More than you realize. Continue reading Warren Buffett on MMA Training and Self-Defense
In medical science, one must pay attention not to plausible theorizing, but to experience and reason together.
The James Randi Educational Foundation has not validated any extraordinary human ability; ergo, none is likely to exist.
— Anonymous crank
Are psi and other forms of mental kung fu real? Some research suggests that they are, but to properly evaluate the data, you need a solid background in experimental design, statistical probability, and the subject itself. Science is hard.
Supposition and common-sense appeals are easy, and unlike research data, they always support the desired outcome. A suitable bit of folk wisdom can be found to justify any emotional investment.
For example, if you want to master a difficult new skill, you’ll remember that practice makes perfect; later, if you become frustrated and finally give up, it is only because you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. This is all ex post facto rationalization—not reason, and certainly not science.
So belief and disbelief are not two poles on the spectrum of opinion, or two sides of the same coin. They are both on the same side of the coin. There is nothing inherently rational about a default to skepticism, it’s just another bias.
Maybe we can do better than that. Continue reading James Randi’s Million Dollar Hustle
My Fellow Investors,
These are perilous times, for even the best of us.
A few short months ago, the market analysts were telling us this would never happen…that the fallout from the banking industry’s irresponsible lending practices would be confined mainly to the housing sector, and our broader economy would continue its gentle ascent.
Folks, the hot-air balloon ride is over. Today, we find ourselves unwilling passengers on an economic Hindenburg. The markets are dropping fast. Typically reserved pundits are openly using the R-word—recession—and a few have even mentioned the D-word! Continue reading Two Recession-Proof Investment Picks for 2008-2010
In the past few years, mixed martial arts has enjoyed remarkable commercial success. Some fans imagine that its popularity is a result of its vast technical superiority over traditional martial arts styles. But neither MMA techniques nor training methods are particularly innovative; much of what you see in the competition ring was pioneered decades or even centuries ago.
The recent success of the MMA product is best explained with a sociological model, not a technical one; and this model predicts an inevitable fall from grace. MMA will decay, like every style before it, into a traditional martial art. Continue reading Is This The End of Mixed Martial Arts?
In How To Choose a Bad Martial Arts Instructor, I provided a quick and easy guide to finding an inappropriate school. John W. McKenna’s recent call for thoughts on leadership reminded me to follow up on that guide, with more helpful advice.
John asked, does most leadership suck? My answer: none of your business. You don’t need to follow every leader; one qualified sensei is enough. A more useful question is, how do you find that sensei? Continue reading You’ll Always Have The Sensei You Deserve
Why are the vast majority of Karate instructors below average? George Akerlof’s research on information asymmetry explains this apparent mathematical impossibility. Continue reading Is Your Sensei a Lemon? Uncertainty and the Karate Market