Wednesday’s Moontower Munchies, Mondegreen Minds, was a celebration of computational thinking. I shared a quote by Montessori instructor Matt Bateman in reference to math:
It matters for your soul. Math is the realm of precision, exactitude, quantity, measurement, and logic. If that’s the realm you’ve populated with secondhand incantations, that will invariably transfer to areas of life in which those things are cognate. (Which is every area.) The exactitude of the mind, the quality of judgment of the mind, and the independence of the mind are interrelated.
He quotes Maria Montessori herself:
When you say “There goes a man of vague mentality. He is clever but indefinite,” you’re hinting at a mind with plenty of ideas, but lacking in the clarity which comes from order period of another you might say, “He has a mind like a map. His judgments will be sound” in our work, therefore, we have given a name to this part of the mind, which is built up with exactitude, and we call it “the mathematical mind.”
Is your mind made of routines that are alien incantations that you mysteriously “work”? Or is it understood, made up of independently cognized algorithms, which you can mull and interrelate, and in which you have earned confidence?
The reason I write anything on any particular day is usually opaque to me. Most of my alien incantations come from the mind-cleansing bombardment of a hot shower whose snippets I can sometimes reassemble into a cohesive message. I don’t ask why any particular topic occurs to me but this week my urge to promote computational thinking had a few sparks.
I’ll mention 2 here and another in Money Angle.
- This was StockSlam week.Steiner had a vacation in the Bay Area so we used the opportunity to host the pit trading simulation in SF and Walnut Creek. I love doing these sessions to meet people, play games, foster in-person connections, and help participants viscerally feel the concepts I write about.The world of finance, trading, and betting is an amazing laboratory to improve your thinking and decision-making. Being forced to put a price on a belief sharpens fuzzy thinking.
- A meeting with a local friendWhere I live in CA nobody talks shop (this is probably not true on the peninsula or showbiz land). Here folks people are obsessed with skiing (Tahoe this and Tahoe that and best season ever, yadda yadda) and mountain biking. I’m no adrenaline junkie and my Egyptian blood hates the snow.So I was surprised a) that a friend was actually in town and b) that they wanted to talk shop (kinda). This person invests in pre-IPO companies today but spent the past 20 years in software sales and the 90s as a software engineer. They reached out because they wanted to learn more about options. Not because they wanted to devote themselves to trading, but because they thought dabbling in options would help them be more methodical in their thinking.A few points they mentioned:
- They felt that their computational thinking muscle had atrophied since their engineering days, especially with a life in sales. While they had developed strong pattern recognition and business acumen, they felt gaps in how they synthesized those inputs into decisions.
- The founder of their fund seems to think in terms of options but uses a different language to describe scenarios. This reinforced my friend’s sense that this was a place they should improve.
- They wanted to take a more hands-on role in helping their kids (who incidentally take chess lessons at my house) think rigorously and thought directing their own attention in that direction would help.
- The grass isn’t greener. I was jealous of their experience.Those pattern-recognition inferences are inputs and can only be gathered by decades of reps. The reasoning part can be taught much faster. If you spent just a year in a trading/arbitrage environment you’d have a useful lens to carry with you for life. Acquiring a practical mental catalog of business models takes much longer. I believe I can take my brain and stick it in someone else (provided they had some minimum aptitude, desire, and work ethic). I can’t acquire the equivalent fraction of what they know in the same amount of time.[Obvious alert: this is why you try to assemble complementary teams. In Gauntlet, you want the long-range Archer, the healing Wizard potions, the Barbarian to deliver damage, and the Valkryie’s armor for protection.]
- We all get rusty.Despite years of trading and writing, when I read Agustin Lebron’s Laws Of Trading (my notes) I realized how lazy my own thinking had gotten. It put me right back in the culture and mind habits of prop firms in a way that reminded me that weeds of lossy heuristics were growing in my mental garden.
- I promised to send a list of posts to get the gears turningAs I sat down that afternoon to compile the list, I figured I should make it available to anyone who felt the same.
With that enjoy a new portal: