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# 12
Darwin’s Bulldog

Charles Darwin was a brilliant man with a brilliant idea. But he was old, frail, good-natured and was just plain too nice to directly confront the hardliner scientists of his era who were critical of his fringe concepts. Then along came Thomas Huxley to Darwin’s side — young, fiery, totally uninhibited. Unafraid to clash swords with anyone. Willing to shout at and stare down even the most revered personality around. And boy did he gave his opponents quite the lashing. Without Huxley, the Theory of Evolution would have found it more difficult to go mainstream in the middle of all the criticisms thrown against it by the standing scientific establishment of the time. Hats off to Huxley and his sharp tongue.

*** To be brilliant is a good thing. But to remain quiet and nice in the middle of stupidity is not. Sometimes we have to shout. Sometimes we have to show people how dumb they really are.


# 11
Cortes and the Aztecs, Pizarro and the Incas

Hernan Cortes and the few hundred Spanish soldiers who was with him brought down Montezuma and the entire Aztec civilization within a few short years of their landing in Mesoamerica. Francisco Pizarro and his few hundred Spaniards did the same thing to Atahualpa and the empire of the Incas farther south several years later. Sure, they used every dirty trick in the book to achieve what they achieved — deceit, false promises, unholy alliances, opportunistic grabs — you name it they did it. But you’ve got to admit, what they did was pretty amazing considering the massive comparative disadvantage they found themselves in on the way towards getting what they wanted.

*** Creativity can compensate for lack of brute force. Adaptive ability to improvise on-the-fly is better than the rigidity of structured planning. People who insists on following plans to the letter doesn’t live in the real world.


# 10
Francis Drake, Gentleman Pirate

Francis Drake, El Draque, was that bastard English pirate whom the Spanish hated and feared so much that they were willing to pay hefty sums for the privilege of seeing his rotting corpse swinging on the gallows. Drake raided the Spanish Main for loot. Sunk ships. Burned villages. He struck fear in the hearts of Spanish sailors well before the Armada left port to attack England. To Spain, he was despicable.

To England, Drake wasn’t just Drake — he was Sir Francis Drake. Pirate who? No, no, he was an admiral of the navy, always welcome in the royal court, Elizabeth’s favorite adventurer. Huh? He did what? Sunk Spanish ships? Pillaged Spanish cities in the Carribean? No, no, you must have mistaken him for someone else. The guy was adorable.

After the defeat of the Spanish Armada, Drake could’ve retired a rich man and a hero at home. But he didn’t. He continued his seafaring adventures, died and was buried at sea in his 50s.

*** Just do what you want to do. Some people will hate you. Some people will love you. Doesn’t matter. It’s your life, you do what you want with it. Go down with the ship if that’s your thing.

 

# 9
Thermopylae

The story of the Spartan King Leonidas and his 300. You know how it went, you’ve seen the movie. Persian king invades Greece with his 250,000 men. Heroic Spartans blocked their path along a narrow pass. After the bloodbath, the 300 lay dead, betrayed by a snitch, but they were heroes anyway because their sacrifice galvanized the Greeks, yada yada …

Here’s the thing though. The whole Spartan army did not mobilize because they were in the middle of observing a religious holiday. Only Leonidas and a select 300 went out to meet the threat. Screw that! That was stupid. They could’ve won the war right there.

*** Away with all religiously motivated observances. If some relic of an old tradition gets in your way of achieving things, heck, throw it away, go all out, break some bones and bash some heads! [getting carried away but i mean it — in a less violent way]


# 8
The Battle of Verdun

1916. The Great War. France against Germany. It was a stalemate. Neither side knew how to win it. What started as a vague German offensive quickly deteriorated into a massive slaughterfest where the only sense of strategy left was to kill the enemy’s men faster than the enemy could kill yours. Millions of soldiers from both sides were sent to the killing fields on false promises of victory and glory by their knucklehead leaders who were fully aware that a breakthrough was impossible. At the end of it all, 250,000 men laid dead and half a million injured. 70% of the men who died where ripped to pieces by artillery barrages.

*** Take charge of your own life. Never let the authorities tell you what to do. Most of the time, these people are as dumb as a pile of bricks. And always, they are looking out for their own interest, pushing their own agendas, not yours.


# 7
Tutankhamun

King Tut is perhaps, arguably, the most well known Egyptian pharaoh on this side of the galaxy. His intact tomb was discovered in 1922 and since then, by virtue of all the attention he has been getting, he has become the undisputed superstar of Egyptian mummy pop culture. But seriously, King Tut is a minor pharaoh. In terms of achievements of historical significance, he couldn’t possibly compare against the likes of Khufu, Rameses II, Akhenaton, and, I even dare say, ummm… Cleopatra. Well, his sarchophagus is shiny and there are lots of shiny objects buried with him so nevermind if he was a bum kind-of-a-pharaoh. The world likes shiny things, the world loves him.

*** Life is unfair. It always has been and it always will be. We do our thing. We give it our best shot. If we achieve something great, we fight to take the stage, then we cross our fingers and hope the world takes notice. If the world doesn’t take notice, well, screw them, they’re stupid.

~ GC

 

12 Stories in History that Changed the Way I Think – Part 2

 

*** [First Post: This is a filler] I wrote this piece on November 3, 2009. The stock market, my playground, specifically the TSX, has rebounded since then and my plays in gold, silver and lithium proved to be perfectly timed calls of genius. Yes! Genghis is one lucky smart-ass. *** 

=====

A couple of months ago, I remember myself simultaneously smiling and shaking my head when the most hardcore day traders in my community bullboard started falling victim, one by one, playing the downward trending 2x bull natural gas ETF (HNU) on the TSX.

I was smiling because I couldn’t help but admire the fighting spirit of these people — risking hundreds of thousands of dollars of their own money in support of their belief that a rebound in natural gas prices was imminent. Gotta love ’em. Gotta love that attitude. Putting your money where your mouth is. Believing in something so strongly and be willing to bet the farm that you are right. Win or lose, it doesn’t matter. That act is just downright admirable. Bravo.

I was shaking my head because I was on the other side of the fence on the fundamental issue. I thought every indicator pointed towards the opposite direction. I played that ETF a bit then decided to pull out when I thought a rebound wasn’t coming anytime soon. Cutting my losses, I was still out $400. But $400 was spare change compared to the tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands my bad asses peers lost when prices continued falling … To this day, that rebound we were hoping for hasn’t happened yet.

That was 2 months ago.

By hindsight, I know I made a good call pulling out. But at that time the call was made, I couldn’t help but feel cowardly for not being so gung-ho …

Enter November 2009. And here I am again in the same exact, albeit, ironically, opposite, situation. Being forced by circumstances to choose between what looks like the path leading to the practical and what looks like the path leading to some form of “blaze of glory”. Crazy.

Last week, wild swings in the equity markets knocked off more than 50% of the value of my entire portfolio. Everything I was holding went down – my plays in uranium, lithium, silver and gold. All of them. It was brutal.

On paper, the losses were so high that an amateur player like me should cringed and start questioning myself why the heck am I even playing this game in the first place when I should be out there like a regular dude, working a regular job, earning a regular paycheck. Yeah, the losses were high enough that I began questioning the very rationale that keeps me holding on, stubbornly, to this dream.

Should I sell and get out now while I still have enough to take care of my expenses while I go look for a job?

Or, should I wait it out, hope to recover, and face the risk of losing more while the market pulls back or worse, enter the second leg of what could very well be a double dip recession?

Ha-ha-ha. Choices.
Iam laughing but this is serious.

If my father was here and knew about it, he would be the first person to pounce on me to say those ominous words “I told you so”. Afterall, last year when I decided to engage in this risky business, he had like seven paragraphs of bad things to say about my decision making abilities. Gotta love the old man.

But looking back, it has been a year indeed since I took the plunge with a mere $6k to start with. Everybody said it couldn’t be done. That it was contrary to all sound financial wisdom that $6k invested in the stock market will yield enough profit to support even a half-decent lifestyle. That it was impossible. Yada, yada … Yet here I am, living a perfectly decent lifestyle, feeding off entirely from profits of my half-serious, home-bound, online trading activities, and growing that initial $6k portfolio to what it is today. So really, who is the smart-ass?

But then, I am in trouble. And I guess whenever people get into trouble, they begin to doubt themselves, they begin to lose faith, they begin to question their abilities. Iam not that different from everyone else it seems. Well, except that Iam a little bit more stubborn …

The drop in my portfolio value wasn’t predicated in the drop of prices of any of the underlying commodities. Gold is at all time highs, bound to get stronger as the US dollar continues to collapse. Silver looks promising, traditionally outperforms gold in precious metal bull runs. Uranium prices are so-so but not exactly weak. And lithium, by golly lithium, is key component to electric battery technology which is expected to spearhead the world’s transition from oil into alternative energy. So really, what am I worrying about? My positions are all well researched ones.

I guess this is a question of staying power. When the marketmakers start playing games, they will try to squeeze the regular guys out, back retail investors to a corner with these usual scare tactics, to make them sell. The weak sells, scratches their heads, absorbs the losses, quits the stock market, then goes back to the security of a regular paycheck. The stubborn gives them the finger, says “kiss my ass Merrill Lynch”, stays, gets a bit bruised, but lives on to fight another day.

Did you hear me say Iam giving up?
You’re dreaming!

 

*** UPDATE
2:45 pm

As I was writing this note, news came out that India bought the 200 tonnes of gold put forth for sale by the IMF (1/6 of the IMF’s entire reserves). Consequently, gold price shot up to new all time highs, touching $1089 as of 2pm today. Just my point: Iam playing with solid fundamentals here so these fucking dips are all artificial creations of the big financial houses – mostly through naked short selling.

To be fair, it wasn’t Merrill Lynch at play manipulating the stocks in my space, it was good old Canadian badboy Cannacord. But who cares really? These big boys are all about greed, all of them. One day, one of them will make another miscalculation and end up broke like Lehman while we small players laugh, hahaha … Errr, laugh? Sorry, let me take that back. I forgot. The government will bail them out.  Ouch.

Care to bail me out just in case? Anyone? Please ..? LOL

~ GC