There’s no manual for that
|Kyiv oblast in springtime. Photo by author.
We’ve been receiving since the war began text messages from the State Emergency Service of Ukraine every few days. They’ve contained information on how to comfort a child and what to do in case of a water outage.
But a question that I struggle to suppress irks within me: How would we know if there really was a threat coming our away? So how can I happily disregard an air raid siren and continue singing to my three-month-old son when I feel like a World War II film became reality? There’s no manual for that.
Along with the anxiety, there’s the guilt that always seems to appear alongside dinner we’re fortunate to still have each evening while brave Ukrainian soldiers are facing serious food insecurity. There’s no manual for how to deal with this guilt.
When it comes to the enemy, there is no manual for how to react to the news of Russian casualties. Every dead Russian soldier weakens Putin, but I also know that many of these men had wives and girlfriends who are now living a nightmare.
So, I felt like I had to start writing my own manual.
The anxiety around the air raid siren? Only with time does it get easier to ignore it, but never completely.
The guilt? All we can do is pray.
That inner conflict? As Russia continues to stun the world with its war crimes, my emotions get less gray — I have to get used to accommodating absurd levels of hatred.
Sadness? It feels a bit more manageable when we laugh, and a little alcohol helps (as it usually does).
Cabin fever? Step outside in the yard when possible. At least the sunshine is becoming more fervent with spring approaching.
Slava Ukraini. Heroyam slava. (Glory to Ukraine. Glory to the heroes.)
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1 year ago
War's Human Cost
War's Human Cost
I didn't start crying until I was outside a McDonald's in an Olempin, Poland rest area on highway S17.
Children pick toys at a refugee center, Olempin, Poland, March 4, 2022.
Refugee children, mostly alone with their mothers, but occasionally with a gray-haired grandfather or non-Ukrainian father, were coaxed into picking a toy from boxes provided by a kind-hearted company and volunteers.
I went to Warsaw to continue my research on my family's history during the Holocaust. In light of the ongoing Ukrainian conflict, I asked former colleagues in the US Department of Defense and Intelligence Community if it was safe to travel there. They said yes, as Poland was a NATO member.
I stayed in a hotel in the Warsaw Ghetto, where 90% of my mother's family was murdered in the Holocaust. Across the street was the first Warsaw Judenrat. It was two blocks away from the apartment building my mother's family had owned and lived in, now dilapidated and empty.
Building of my great-grandfather, December 2021.
A mass grave of thousands of rocks for those killed in the Warsaw Ghetto, I didn't cry when I touched its cold walls.
Warsaw Jewish Cemetery, 200,000–300,000 graves.
Mass grave, Warsaw Jewish Cemetery.
My mother's family had two homes, one in Warszawa and the rural one was a forest and sawmill complex in Western Ukraine. For the past half-year, a local Ukrainian historian had been helping me discover faint traces of her family’s life there — in fact, he had found some people still alive who remembered the sawmill and that it belonged to my mother’s grandfather. The historian was good at his job, and we had become close.
My historian friend, December 2021, talking to a Ukrainian.
With war raging, my second trip to Warsaw took on a different mission. To see his daughter and one-year-old grandson, I drove east instead of to Ukraine. They had crossed the border shortly after the war began, leaving men behind, and were now staying with a friend on Poland's eastern border.
I entered after walking up to the house and settling with the dog. The grandson greeted me with a huge smile and the Ukrainian word for “daddy,” “Tato!” But it was clear he was awaiting his real father's arrival, and any man he met would be so tentatively named.
After a few moments, the boy realized I was only a stranger. He had musical talent, like his mother and grandfather, both piano teachers, as he danced to YouTube videos of American children's songs dubbed in Ukrainian, picking the ones he liked and crying when he didn't.
Songs chosen by my historian friend's grandson, March 4, 2022
He had enough music and began crying regardless of the song. His mother picked him up and started nursing him, saying she was worried about him. She had no idea where she would live or how she would survive outside Ukraine. She showed me her father's family history of losses in the Holocaust, which matched my own research.
After an hour of drinking tea and trying to speak of hope, I left for the 3.5-hour drive west to Warsaw.
It was unlike my drive east. It was reminiscent of the household goods-filled carts pulled by horses and people fleeing war 80 years ago.
Jewish refugees relocating, USHMM Holocaust Encyclopaedia, 1939.
The carefully chosen trinkets by children to distract them from awareness of what is really happening and the anxiety of what lies ahead, made me cry despite all my research on the Holocaust. There is no way for them to communicate with their mothers, who are worried, absent, and without their fathers.
It's easy to see war as a contest of nations' armies, weapons, and land. The most costly aspect of war is its psychological toll. My father screamed in his sleep from nightmares of his own adolescent trauma in Warsaw 80 years ago.
Survivor father studying engineering, 1961.
In the airport, I waited to return home while Ukrainian public address systems announced refugee assistance. Like at McDonald's, many mothers were alone with their children, waiting for a flight to distant relatives.
That's when I had my worst trip experience.
A woman near me, clearly a refugee, answered her phone, cried out, and began wailing.
The human cost of war descended like a hammer, and I realized that while I was going home, she never would
1 year ago
The downfall of the Big Four accounting companies is just one (more) controversy away.
Economic mutual destruction.
Multibillion-dollar corporations never bothered with an independent audit, and they all lied about their balance sheets.
It's easy to forget that the Big Four accounting firms are lousy fraud enablers. Just because they sign off on your books doesn't mean you're not a hoax waiting to erupt.
This is *crazy* Capitalism depends on independent auditors. Rich folks need to know their financial advisers aren't lying. Rich folks usually succeed.
No accounting. EY, KPMG, PWC, and Deloitte make more money consulting firms than signing off on their accounts.
The Big Four sign off on phony books because failing to make friends with unscrupulous corporations may cost them consulting contracts.
The Big Four are the only firms big enough to oversee bankruptcy when they sign off on fraudulent books, as they did for Carillion in 2018. All four profited from Carillion's bankruptcy.
The Big Four are corrupt without any consequences for misconduct. Who can forget when KPMG's top management was fined millions for helping auditors cheat on ethics exams?
Consulting and auditing conflict. Consultants help a firm cover its evil activities, such as tax fraud or wage theft, whereas auditors add clarity to a company's finances. The Big Four make more money from cooking books than from uncooking them, thus they are constantly embroiled in scandals.
If a major scandal breaks, it may bring down the entire sector and substantial parts of the economy. Jim Peterson explains system risk for The Dig.
The Big Four are voluntary private partnerships where accountants invest their time, reputations, and money. If a controversy threatens the business, partners who depart may avoid scandal and financial disaster.
When disaster looms, each partner should bolt for the door, even if a disciplined stay-and-hold posture could weather the storm. This happened to Arthur Andersen during Enron's collapse, and a 2006 EU report recognized the risk to other corporations.
Each partner at a huge firm knows how much dirty laundry they've buried in the company's garden, and they have well-founded suspicions about what other partners have buried, too. When someone digs, everyone runs.
If a firm confronts substantial litigation damages or enforcement penalties, it could trigger the collapse of one of the Big Four. That would be bad news for the firm's clients, who would have trouble finding another big auditor.
Most of the world's auditing capacity is concentrated in four enormous, brittle, opaque, compromised organizations. If one of them goes bankrupt, the other three won't be able to take on its clients.
Peterson: Another collapse would strand many of the world's large public businesses, leaving them unable to obtain audit views for their securities listings and regulatory compliance.
Count Down: The Past, Present, and Uncertain Future of the Big Four Accounting Firms is in its second edition.
1 year ago
You Misunderstand the Russian Nuclear Threat
Many believe Putin is simply sabre rattling and intimidating us. They see no threat of nuclear war. We can send NATO troops into Ukraine without risking a nuclear war.
I keep reading that Putin is just using nuclear blackmail and that a strong leader will call the bluff. That, in my opinion, misunderstands the danger of sending NATO into Ukraine.
It assumes that once NATO moves in, Putin can either push the red nuclear button or not.
Sure, Putin won't go nuclear if NATO invades Ukraine. So we're safe? Can't we just move NATO?
No, because history has taught us that wars often escalate far beyond our initial expectations. One domino falls, knocking down another. That's why having clear boundaries is vital. Crossing a seemingly harmless line can set off a chain of events that are unstoppable once started.
One example is WWI. The assassin of Archduke Franz Ferdinand could not have known that his actions would kill millions. They couldn't have known that invading Serbia to punish them for not handing over the accomplices would start a world war. Every action triggered a counter-action, plunging Europe into a brutal and bloody war. Each leader saw their actions as limited, not realizing how they kept the dominos falling.
Nobody can predict the future, but it's easy to imagine how NATO intervention could trigger a chain of events leading to a total war. Let me suggest some outcomes.
NATO creates a no-fly-zone. In retaliation, Russia bombs NATO airfields. Russia may see this as a limited counter-move that shouldn't cause further NATO escalation. They think it's a reasonable response to force NATO out of Ukraine. Nobody has yet thought to use the nuke.
Will NATO act? Polish airfields bombed, will they be stuck? Is this an article 5 event? If so, what should be done?
It could happen. Maybe NATO sends troops into Ukraine to punish Russia. Maybe NATO will bomb Russian airfields.
Putin's response Is bombing Russian airfields an invasion or an attack? Remember that Russia has always used nuclear weapons for defense, not offense. But let's not panic, let's assume Russia doesn't go nuclear.
Maybe Russia retaliates by attacking NATO military bases with planes. Maybe they use ships to attack military targets. How does NATO respond? Will they fight Russia in Ukraine or escalate? Will they invade Russia or attack more military installations there?
Seen the pattern? As each nation responds, smaller limited military operations can grow in scope.
So far, the Russian military has shown that they begin with less brutal methods. As losses and failures increase, brutal means are used. Syria had the same. Assad used chemical weapons and attacked hospitals, schools, residential areas, etc.
A NATO invasion of Ukraine would cost Russia dearly. “Oh, this isn't looking so good, better pull out and finish this war,” do you think? No way. Desperate, they will resort to more brutal tactics. If desperate, Russia has a huge arsenal of ugly weapons. They have nerve agents, chemical weapons, and other nasty stuff.
What happens if Russia uses chemical weapons? What if Russian nerve agents kill NATO soldiers horribly? West calls for retaliation will grow. Will we invade Russia? Will we bomb them?
We are angry and determined to punish war criminal Putin, so NATO tanks may be heading to Moscow. We want vengeance for his chemical attacks and bombing of our cities.
Do you think the distance between that red nuclear button and Putin's finger will be that far once NATO tanks are on their way to Moscow?
We might avoid a nuclear apocalypse. A NATO invasion force or even Western cities may be used by Putin. Not as destructive as ICBMs. Putin may think we won't respond to tactical nukes with a full nuclear counterattack. Why would we risk a nuclear Holocaust by launching ICBMs on Russia?
Maybe. My point is that at every stage of the escalation, one party may underestimate the other's response. This war is spiraling out of control and the chances of a nuclear exchange are increasing. Nobody really wants it.
Fear, anger, and resentment cause it. If Putin and his inner circle decide their time is up, they may no longer care about the rest of the world. We saw it with Hitler. Hitler, seeing the end of his empire, ordered the destruction of Germany. Nobody should win if he couldn't. He wanted to destroy everything, including Paris.
In other words, the danger isn't what happens after NATO intervenes The danger is the potential chain reaction. Gambling has a psychological equivalent. It's best to exit when you've lost less. We humans are willing to take small risks for big rewards. To avoid losses, we are willing to take high risks. Daniel Kahneman describes this behavior in his book Thinking, Fast and Slow.
And so bettors who have lost a lot begin taking bigger risks to make up for it. We get a snowball effect. NATO involvement in the Ukraine conflict is akin to entering a casino and placing a bet. We'll start taking bigger risks as we start losing to Russian retaliation. That's the game's psychology.
It's impossible to stop. So will politicians and citizens from both Russia and the West, until we risk the end of human civilization.
You can avoid spiraling into ever larger bets in the Casino by drawing a hard line and declaring “I will not enter that Casino.” We're doing it now. We supply Ukraine. We send money and intelligence but don't cross that crucial line.
It's difficult to watch what happened in Bucha without demanding NATO involvement. What should we do? Of course, I'm not in charge. I'm a writer. My hope is that people will think about the consequences of the actions we demand. My hope is that you think ahead not just one step but multiple dominos.
More and more, we are driven by our emotions. We cannot act solely on emotion in matters of life and death. If we make the wrong choice, more people will die.
Read the original post here.
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1 year ago
The Berkus Startup Valuation Method: What Is It?
What Is That?
Berkus is a pre-revenue valuation method based exclusively on qualitative criteria, like Scorecard.
Few firms match their financial estimates, especially in the early stages, so valuation methodologies like the Berkus method are a good way to establish a valuation when the economic measures are not reliable.
How does it work?
This technique evaluates five key success factors.
Strategic alliances in its primary market
Production, followed by sales
The Berkus technique values the business idea and four success factors. As seen in the matrix below, each of these dimensions poses a danger to the startup's success.
It assigns $0-$500,000 to each of these beginning regions. This approach enables a maximum $2.5M pre-money valuation.
This approach relies significantly on geography and uses the US as a baseline, as it differs in every country in Europe.
A set of standards for analyzing each dimension individually
Fundamental principle (or strength of the idea)
Ideas are worthless; execution matters. Most of us can relate to seeing a new business open in our area or a startup get funded and thinking, "I had this concept years ago!" Someone did it.
The concept remains. To assess the idea's viability, we must consider several criteria.
The concept's exclusivity It is necessary to protect a product or service's concept using patents and copyrights. Additionally, it must be capable of generating large profits.
Planned growth and growth that goes in a specific direction have a lot of potential, therefore incorporating them into a business is really advantageous.
The ability of a concept to grow A venture's ability to generate scalable revenue is a key factor in its emergence and continuation. A startup needs a scalable idea in order to compete successfully in the market.
The attraction of a business idea to a broad spectrum of people is significantly influenced by the current socio-political climate. Thus, the requirement for the assumption of conformity.
Concept Validation Ideas must go through rigorous testing with a variety of audiences in order to lower risk during the implementation phase.
This aspect reduces startup's technological risk. How good is the startup prototype when facing cyber threats, GDPR compliance (in Europe), tech stack replication difficulty, etc.?
Check the management team's efficacy. A potential angel investor must verify the founders' experience and track record with previous ventures. Good leadership is needed to chart a ship's course.
Strategic alliances in its primary market
Existing and new relationships will play a vital role in the development of both B2B and B2C startups. What are the startup's synergies? potential ones?
Production, followed by sales (product rollout)
Startup success depends on its manufacturing and product rollout. It depends on the overall addressable market, the startup's ability to market and sell their product, and their capacity to provide consistent, high-quality support.
We're now founders of EyeCaramba, a machine vision-assisted streaming platform. My imagination always goes to poor puns when naming a startup.
Since we're first-time founders and the Berkus technique depends exclusively on qualitative methods and the evaluator's skill, we ask our angel-investor acquaintance for a pre-money appraisal of EyeCaramba.
Our friend offers us the following table:
Because we're first-time founders, our pal lowered our Execution score. He knows the idea's value and that the gaming industry is red-hot, with worse startup ideas getting funded, therefore he gave the Basic value the highest value (idea).
EyeCaramba's pre-money valuation is $400,000 + $250,000 + $75,000 + $275,000 + $164,000 (1.16M). Good.
Crypto Zen Monk
1 year ago
How to DYOR in the world of cryptocurrency
We must create separate ideas and handle our own risks to be better investors. DYOR is crucial.
The only thing unsustainable is your cluelessness.
On social media, there is a lot of false information and divergent viewpoints. All of these facts might be accurate, but they might not be appropriate for your portfolio and investment preferences.
You become a more knowledgeable investor thanks to DYOR.
DYOR improves your portfolio's risk management.
My DYOR resources are below.
Messari: Major Blockchains' Activities
New York-based Messari provides cryptocurrency open data libraries.
Major blockchains offer 24-hour on-chain volume. https://messari.io/screener/most-active-chains-DB01F96B
What to do
Invest in stable cryptocurrencies. Sort Messari by Real Volume (24H) or Reported Market Cap.
Coingecko: Research on Ecosystems
Top 10 Ecosystems by Coingecko are good.
What to do
Invest in quality.
Leading ten Ecosystems by Market Cap
There are a lot of coins in the ecosystem (second last column of above chart)
CoinGecko's Market Cap Crypto Categories Market capitalization-based cryptocurrency categories. Ethereum Ecosystem www.coingecko.com
Fear & Greed Index for Bitcoin (FGI)
The Bitcoin market sentiment index ranges from 0 (extreme dread) to 100. (extreme greed).
How to Apply
See market sentiment:
Extreme fright = opportunity to buy
Extreme greed creates sales opportunity (market due for correction).
Glassnode gives facts, information, and confidence to make better Bitcoin, Ethereum, and cryptocurrency investments and trades.
Explore free and paid metrics.
Stock to Flow Ratio: Application
The popular Stock to Flow Ratio concept believes scarcity drives value. Stock to flow is the ratio of circulating Bitcoin supply to fresh production (i.e. newly mined bitcoins). The S/F Ratio has historically predicted Bitcoin prices. PlanB invented this metric.
Utilization: Ethereum Hash Rate
Ethereum miners produce an estimated number of hashes per second.
ycharts: Hash rate of the Bitcoin network
TradingView is your go-to tool for investment analysis, watch lists, technical analysis, and recommendations from other traders/investors.
Research for a cryptocurrency project
Two key questions every successful project must ask: Q1: What is this project trying to solve? Is it a big problem or minor? Q2: How does this project make money?
Check out the white paper.
check out the project's internet presence on github, twitter, and medium.
the transparency of it
Verify the team structure and founders. Verify their LinkedIn profile, academic history, and other qualifications. Search for their names with scam.
Where to purchase and use cryptocurrencies Is it traded on trustworthy exchanges?
From CoinGecko and CoinMarketCap, we may learn about market cap, circulations, and other important data.
The project must solve a problem. Solving a problem is the goal of the founders.
Avoid projects that resemble multi-level marketing or ponzi schemes.
Your use of social media
Use social media carefully or ignore it: Twitter, TradingView, and YouTube
Someone said this before and there are some truth to it. Social media bullish => short.
Investigate. Spend time. You decide. Worth it!
Only you have the best interest in your financial future.
1 year ago
The best financial advice I've ever received and how you can use it.
Taking great financial advice is key to financial success.
A wealthy man told me to INVEST MY MONEY when I was young.
As I entered Starbucks, an older man was leaving. I noticed his watch and expensive-looking shirt, not like the guy in the photo, but one made of fine fabric like vicuna wool, which can only be shorn every two to three years. His Bentley confirmed my suspicions about his wealth.
This guy looked like James Bond, so I asked him how to get rich like him.
"Drug dealer?" he laughed.
Whether he was telling the truth, I'll never know, and I didn't want to be an accessory, but he quickly added, "Kid, invest your money; it will do wonders." He left.
When he told me to invest, he didn't say what. Later, I realized the investment game has so many levels that even if he drew me a blueprint, I wouldn't understand it.
The best advice I received was to invest my earnings. I must decide where to invest.
I'll preface by saying I'm not a financial advisor or Your financial advisor, but I'll share what I've learned from books, links, and sources. The rest is up to you.
Invest your Money
Money is money, whether you call it cake, dough, moolah, benjamins, paper, bread, etc.
If you're lucky, you can buy one of the gold shirts in the photo.
Investing your money today means putting it towards anything that could be profitable.
According to the website Investopedia:
“Investing is allocating money to generate income or profit.”
You can invest in a business, real estate, or a skill that will pay off later.
Everyone has different goals and wants at different stages of life, so investing varies.
He was probably a sugar daddy with his Bentley, nice shirt, and Rolex.
In my twenties, I started making "good" money; now, in my forties, with a family and three kids, I'm building a legacy for my grandkids.
“It’s not how much money you make, but how much money you keep, how hard it works for you, and how many generations you keep it for.” — Robert Kiyosaki.
Money isn't evil, but lack of it is.
Financial stress is a major source of problems, according to studies.
Being broke hurts, especially if you want to provide for your family or do things.
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” — Benjamin Franklin.
Investing in knowledge is invaluable. Before investing, do your homework.
You probably didn't learn about investing when you were young, like I didn't. My parents were in survival mode, making investing difficult.
In my 20s, I worked in banking to better understand money.
So, why invest?
Growth requires investment.
Investing puts money to work and can build wealth. Your money may outpace inflation with smart investing. Compounding and the risk-return tradeoff boost investment growth.
Investing your money means you won't have to work forever — unless you want to.
Two common ways to make money are;
-interest or capital gains from investments.
Capital gains can help you invest.
“How many millionaires do you know who have become wealthy by investing in savings accounts? I rest my case.” — Robert G. Allen
If you keep your money in a savings account, you'll earn less than 2% interest at best; the bank makes money by loaning it out.
Savings accounts are a safe bet, but the low-interest rates limit your gains.
Don't skip it. An emergency fund should be in a savings account, not the market.
Other reasons to invest:
Investing can generate regular income.
If you own rental properties, the tenant's rent will add to your cash flow.
Daily, weekly, or monthly rentals (think Airbnb) generate higher returns year-round.
Capital gains are taxed less than earned income if you own dividend-paying or appreciating stock.
Time is on your side
“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it; he who doesn’t — pays it.” — Albert Einstein
Historical data shows that young investors outperform older investors. So you can use compound interest over decades instead of investing at 45 and having less time to earn.
If I had taken that man's advice and invested in my twenties, I would have made a decent return by my thirties. (Depending on my investments)
So for those who live a YOLO (you only live once) life, investing can't hurt.
Investing increases your knowledge.
Lessons are clearer when you're invested. Each win boosts confidence and draws attention to losses. Losing money prompts you to investigate.
Before investing, I read many financial books, but I didn't understand them until I invested.
What do you invest in? Equities, mutual funds, ETFs, retirement accounts, savings, business, real estate, cryptocurrencies, marijuana, insurance, etc.
The key is to start somewhere. Know you don't know everything. You must care.
“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” — Lao Tzu.
Start simple because there's so much information. My first investment book was:
Robert Kiyosaki's "Rich Dad, Poor Dad"
This easy-to-read book made me hungry for more. This book is about the money lessons rich parents teach their children, which poor and middle-class parents neglect. The poor and middle-class work for money, while the rich let their assets work for them, says Kiyosaki.
There is so much to learn, but you gotta start somewhere.
I hope I'm not suggesting that investing makes everything rosy. Remember three rules:
1. Losing money is possible.
2. Losing money is possible.
3. Losing money is possible.
You can lose money, so be careful.
Read, research, invest.
Golden rules for Investing your money
Never invest money you can't lose.
Financial freedom is possible regardless of income.
"Courage taught me that any sound investment will pay off, no matter how bad a crisis gets." Helu Carlos
"I'll tell you Wall Street's secret to wealth. When others are afraid, you're greedy. You're afraid when others are greedy. Buffett
Buy low, sell high, and have an exit strategy.
Ask experts or wealthy people for advice.
"With a good understanding of history, we can have a clear vision of the future." Helu Carlos
"It's not whether you're right or wrong, but how much money you make when you're right." Soros
"The individual investor should act as an investor, not a speculator." Graham
"It's different this time" is the most dangerous investment phrase. Templeton
Avoid quick-money schemes. Building wealth takes years, not months.
Start small and work your way up.
Thanks for reading!
This post is a summary. Read the full article here