Standardization and automation of human interaction

I argue that we increasingly standardize our interactions. At the same time, we delegate bigger parts of the process to automation. The text is mostly observations in different settings.

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All of our cells share the same DNA, even though they may serve different needs. A cell in our heart looks and functions differently than a cell in our liver or skin. What we call I, Fatim, Nick, or Hina is mostly the collection and the macroscopic deliberation of all these cells working together. To form an individual, cell communication both in short and long distance is of critical importance. Sometimes, we do focus on the individual parts at different scales. Perhaps a specific cell is used as a proxy to find the common DNA or other characteristics of the body. Perhaps an organ needs special attention due to a medical condition. Nevertheless, at least at a conscious level, we spend most of our time discussing the behaviors exhibited on a macro level.

The scale of our focus is shifted by the particular needs. Perhaps due to a medical reason, or scientific curiosity, we employ our understanding of the inner workings of our body to draw some high level conclusions. For example, we know that if we meet someone on a suspension bridge, we may find them more attractive because we tend to misattribute the reasons for our physiological stress.

In everyday life, we are usually busy analysing our behaviors at an individual level. What did Duong mean, would Marie want to do that presentation, should I ask my host for a second serving, since I really liked the meal they prepared? For some of these questions, there are not always definite answers, but sometimes we refer to what we call “culture” or social norms to advise us on what is considered as acceptable behavior. There are many possible definitions of culture, but what is of interest to us, is that the existence and acceptance of this reference indicates strongly that there is a typically constrained set of behaviors whose existence we constantly use to calibrate our actions.

Indeed, there are many behaviors that we learn in some form and shape our everyday interactions that we rarely question or ask for their origin. We greet someone when we meet them, or before we leave. There are other behaviors that are harder to observe but we can easily verify them. People across different cultures and languages may refer to the same color (wavelength) as the most “typical” red or blue. More cities are closer to water, like lakes, rivers, or sea than not. Policy makers, investors, or just curious people may be more inclined to use these behaviors as predictors for longer trends or to affect future behaviors.

Sometimes, group behaviors are conventions constructed to facilitate a specific purpose. As an example, during war times, we may observe a reinforcement of the patriotic interests of certain populations. In an increasingly complex and interconnected world, we need a certain standardization level to navigate the various complexities. There are nowadays places where you go and say you want some kind of pasta. You are then allowed to sit there, enjoy your meal and as you are ready to leave, bring close to a machine a small card, have a machine make a beep sound, display some frequently seen drawings that we call letters, and go your merry way with a full stomach. At the same time, your counterparty will be satisfied that they had a nice customer like you visit their restaurant. A restaurant that may have a quite unique character, a cuisine rarely found elsewhere and an amazing view.

The level of standardization and the rules implied by it differ across settings. In heavily interconnected places (cities), where many relationships are ephemeral, roles and expectations are more well defined and more frequently promoted to formal, with written guidelines associated. For example, in a village, the day care may be handled more frequently by grand-parents or neighbors compared to a bigger city. In a city, there are more daycares that have the obligation to operate according to some standard rules. The way of enforcement also differs: In formal relationships, there are written outcomes based on previously specified rules. In more informal settings, things like reputation and personal relationships play a bigger role. Apart from the obvious situations that we describe, we can also observe some second order effects from the various levels of standardization. Cities tend to be more liberal minded, while the countryside more conservative. A distinction that seems to span across countries and cultures.

The previous observations apply in various organizational forms. Big companies usually have more well defined roles than smaller ones. Members of small teams, irrespectively if they are in a small sports team or in a company, are expected to display more protective behaviors towards their members compared to members of bigger teams who are expected to stick closer to the rule book. The way that someone interacts in a video call with a small audience is different from a stream to a large audience, even in cases where they want to put the same message across.

The time scale of which we operate and from which we draw our observations is unfortunately limited. On the other hand, a considerable part of humanity that has ever lived is currently alive and heavily interconnected. This gives a sense of observations in a world that moves at an accelerated pace. Values that we currently use to orient ourselves become obsolete in an ever changing environment. In certain contexts, we behave as single minded maximizers towards what we perceive as utility returns. In other contexts, we behave seemingly irrationally, guided by internal processes that pherpas we haven’t demystified yet. As we push forward, and with assistance from machines, we grow the framework of our standardization. In certain cases, the mechanical logistics may grow too complicated, or just too inconvenient, to handle them in our heads. As a result, we delegate at various degrees its details to automated systems that we understand, or not, to various degrees.

As we explore a bigger part of our common future through experience, it seems our lives become increasingly interconnected with each other and with the machines. At least in a naive level, I don’t consider myself equipped to fully understand the implications of this relationship, which seems born out of a need to experience and enjoy bigger parts of our world, beyond the limited capabilities of the unassisted individual. I wonder what someone who operates on a different time scale would observe.

Get infinite email addresses

How to get

There are a few different ways. One of the simplest could be:

  1. Get a domain from a service like https://domains.google/.
  2. Set up email forwarding to your existing account. https://support.google.com/domains/answer/3251241?hl=en#emailForwarding
  3. Use the wild card option.

Cost

Depends on the domain. Nowadays, there are many different domain endings available, which makes it possible to find a nice domain that is relatively cheap.

How to use

Register to every different service with a different email address. That can be easily done by following a rule like website-name@example.com, where example.com is your registered domain and website-name is the name of the service you use or a slight modification of the name.

To friends, and family you can always give a nice email address like name@example.com or fabulous@example.com.

Why

  • Security: If you register on different services with different mailing addresses you can easily figure out that a service leaked your address, because most likely, you start receiving spam on that address. This allows you to:
    • identify the website that leaked your address and:
      • change your password
      • change your email address there
      • redirect all new emails from the old email address to your spam folder.
    • make less obvious how you register an account on different services. This may be important, if you want to avoid someone trying to hack into your account.
  • Flexibility: Even if you change your underlying host of your email, you don’t have to notify anyone. The change will be transparent.
  • Organization: It becomes even easier to set up email filters. You have now another useful input, which is the email address that received the message.
  • Vanity: This is true only with a cool sounding domain name.

Maintenance

  • It either needs minimal or no maintenance.

Drawbacks

  • You need to remember to renew your domain. This may be possible to automate.
  • The cost. Usually, it is quite low cost.

Learning German (B1-B2)

Despite living in Switzerland, after my studies at ETH my German level plateaued for many years. There are many reasons for that: speaking English at work, birth of my daughter, and almost everyone in Zurich being able to discuss in English.

Here is what helped me get over the plateau and reach B2 and what I wish I had read a few years ago:

Goal

  • Being understood and understanding. Mistakes are OK, as long as you can express what you want and can understand others.

Motivation

  • Have a concrete goal. An exam for some certification works well.
  • Find a motivating teacher who cares and wants to see you progress.

Logistics

  • Have 1-1 classes.
  • Have them 2-3 times per week. Less and you forget what you learn, more and you may not have the time to study properly if you work full time.
  • Learn grammar by yourself. You will find more than enough resources online. Do the related exercises until you feel that you understand it. Bring up questions if you have. You can correct the exercises yourself. Don’t waste time that you could be listening/speaking.
  • Do the exercises.
  • Focus almost exclusively on discussions during the class and occasionally answering questions that come up as you solve exercises.
  • Read news articles for things that interest you in German.
  • Read books in German. Theatrical plays are accessible. Highly recommended: “Die Physiker” by Friedrich Dürrenmatt, “Siddhartha” by Hermann Hesse (much more difficult — I had in parallel the book in English).
  • Subscribe to youtube channels that produce interesting content in German. Some suggestions: ArtDE, Business Deutsch, Deutsch mit Rieke, Dinge Erklärt, Easy German, Easy Deutsch, Germania, Hallo Deutschschule, kathrin shechtman, SRF comedy, SRF dok, SRF Kultur, Swiss German for Beginners, The Big Greek, Y-Kollektiv
  • Turn the language of every device you have to German, if possible.
  • Always speak in German when you have the opportunity. Even when people realize that your German sucks and they switch to English.
  • If you have the motivation, Anki is the best way to learn vocabulary.
  • Use an e-ink tablet, optimized for writing and have your material for studying German there. It avoids the mess that is usually otherwise created and makes it very easy to share writings/random exercises you solved with the teacher. It also expands significantly the pool of available material to the whole internet, without having to print anything.

Note

  • None of the above is must-do that you need to feel guilty, if you don’t have time to do. That’s OK. What is important is that you want to learn the language and maintain this goal over an extended time period. The only way to do that, is to make it a priority.

I am currently trying to improve my German towards C1. In case, someone has any advice, I am always happy to hear.

Advice for 10x Software Engineering projects

The items listed below is advice collected some long time ago.

  • 10x, not 10%.
  • Find where the real problem is.
  • Start with the hardest problem first.
  • Make contact with real people to validate it.
  • Fall in love with the problem.
  • Embrace failure learning.
  • Get out of the executive way. (Don’t block execution)
  • Why can’t we do that tomorrow.
  • Low latency is key to learning.
  • Weekly feature. Optimise for latency.
  • Plan for it.
  • Smaller teams with lower latency cycle.
  • Demo instead of design documents.
  • Advice is not to be taken at face value.

Revolut practical tips

I have been using Revolut as my main debit card for more than a year now. Under some conditions, it is free and makes it easy for someone to use multiple currencies. The tips are based on my experience living in Switzerland. I use almost exclusively CHF, EUR, and USD as currencies.

  • Deposit money through bank transfer.
    • It is free.
    • It takes 1-2 working days.
    • I have a standing order every month.
    • Usually the delay of 1-2 days is not a issue for me.
  • Convert between currencies on workdays.
    • It is free for up to about 1000 pounds per month. There is no better exchange rate anywhere else since it uses the interbank exchange rate.
    • I maintain a minimum balance in all three different currencies.
    • This avoids currency any conversion fees during the weekends.
    • I don’t spend more 1000 EUR/USD in a month. Spending in CHF is not affected.
    • But if I may spend that much, I can plan and convert between currencies in the previous calendar month.
  • I use the virtual card, instead of the physical, anywhere I can.
    • It is much easier to cancel it, in case something goes wrong.
  • I use the physical card only in physical stores.
    • I have disabled online transactions in the physical card.
    • I have disabled the magnetic stripe. Almost no one uses that in Europe.
    • I have disabled the cash withdrawal functionality.
    • I have enabled the contactless payments. It is very convenient. If someone gets my card, they have to use it in a physical store, possibly exposing themselves and I will get a instant notification on where it was used.
  • I sometimes use the temporary virtual cards, that is destroyed after a transaction:
    • Low trust online stores.
      • No need to worry about credit card details leaking, when that card is no longer valid.
    • Subscriptions that I intend to cancel.
  • I have rarely use cash.
    • It is harder to keep track in an automated way on where I spend money.
    • Nevertheless, it is a nice fallback if card doesn’t work for some reason.
    • Therefore…
  • …Before a trip to Europe, I withdraw some money the calendar month before the trip.
    • This allows me to have about 200 EUR in cash.
    • And also have the option to withdraw another 200 EUR in cash during my trip.
  • I pay almost all my regular bills through my bank account.
    • This is almost automated.
    • No need to involve Revolut in this flow.
  • I don’t put too much money on the card.
    • Revolut is not considered a bank yet in many countries.
    • I don’t see a reason why I should have a lot of money in a debit card.
  • I have changed the default username.
    • Someone can use Revolut to transfer money to other people through phone number or username.
    • The default username is not as nice as the one I have picked. 😛

Summary of benefits with the above workflow:

  • Free
    • No recurring fees.
    • No exchange fees.
  • Safe
    • Through the usage of virtual cards.
    • …and disabling most of the functionality on the physical card.
  • Convenient
    • I don’t use any other debit or credit card.
    • I prefer not have any incentive to buy. For that, I am happy to sacrifice the buy-back of some cards in exchange of the piece of mind that I don’t pay unnecessary fees.

Smooth functions

It is funny how many people have opinions on how others should live, despite very different circumstances. It is also funny how good we are at internalizing other people expectations. This gets drilled very deeply especially through school.

A thought process could be:

  • what I want
  • what I have
  • what is the difference
  • how is the process of covering the difference

At the end, where we start and where we end doesn’t matter that much. It is the function that connects the two points the part that we call life. It is damn too easy to focus on the start and the end, and forget the rest. This is particularly bad if the fleeting happiness of the end point doesn’t backpropagate to the iterative process we call everyday life.

There is no better model for life, than a function that fits well on what we consider important, is smooth, and generalizes on unforeseen cases without the need of a large normalization factor.

Well, perhaps there is. Who am I to know any better? I also don’t want to contradict myself within a single blog post.

Shortcut to success

Having a strong interest in something can be a shortcut to being successful at it. This can be both an opportunity and a disaster in the long term. The difference may boil down to reflection.

Having the strong motivation on doing a task well, can lead to active thinking towards the topic, its properties and how these lead themselves to a solution. You may see variations of the same mantra under different phrasings: The customer is always right, focus on the user, or more academically, start by defining the problem and its desired properties.

This process also makes more effective the related communication with others. When everyone is focusing on the same topic, it becomes easier to fill in the gaps with the correct assumptions, as they arise from the understanding of the topic even if they are left unsaid. Fields develop their established lingo and culture in a kind of similar way, (but admittedly, in a larger scale).

Because of the strong inherent motivation, a generalisable methodological approach of the problem may be deemed superficial, bureaucratic and unnecessary. It may require much more time than it is really necessary when compared with an approach that takes advantage of the inherent structure of the topic at hand.

Our interest in a topic may be flickering. If it is connected in a naive way to satisfying curiosity (information gain) or monetary rewards, we may experience relatively soon a flattened curve. Some argue about the logarithmic return of money after a certain level or, many times what we experience as an exponential function may really be just a sigmoid.

This may have been less of an issue, if we didn’t have higher level abstraction capabilities or other external factors. Both may provide with, perhaps external to the topic itself, reasoning why insisting on it may make sense beyond the experienced naively defined returns discussed above.

Moreover, most likely at some point we will move towards a new task. The strong interest may be there or may need some time to be cultivated or it may be a coin flip and we got the wrong side of the coin. Then, we will find ourselves reflecting on our past experiences and if we rely too much on the presence and deeper understanding of the topic, we may find that our experience doesn’t count for much. In other words, I am talking about getting too used to the specifics of a situation (overfitting) to such a degree that we are not able to tackle other situations that may differ in a substantial way.

Thinking, to the external observer, may be glossed over as a waste of time. Why spend time on thinking, if you could have somehow the conclusion (could you?) and start executing faster? Even more strongly, reflective thinking almost by definition may seem redundant, unless your explicit goal is to generalize the knowledge of the task you are performing.

Experiencing success can be a blessing. You have the opportunity in first person to observe some of the qualities that help you do well what you are doing. Sometimes, that may also include some noise (lucky charms?) but it may also lead to establishing healthy habits.

Experiencing success can also be a curse. You don’t need to take a systematic approach and deeper look on what you are doing. The autopilot can do the work for you. The gaps are filled by your passion of focusing on the problem. A passion, which admittedly, is hard to be replaced by any system. Therefore, you may never establish the systematic approach that leads to success even when the intensive interest is lacking. You may also find that the established habits are built on shaky grounds leaving you without much.

Failure is an important component. Similar to success can come to two different flavors, leaving either a positive influence or a negative. Both can be based on the level of reflection that is induced. Nevertheless, here the situation may be different. Usually, the sentimental magnitude of an experienced failure may be stronger from the corresponding magnitute of a success. This quantitative difference may lead to qualitatively different results. People are usually more prone to introspection after a failure (or a perceived one). If done to an unhlealthy degree, this can be quite demotivating. Otherwise, in balance and in context, it can be the breeding ground of a systematic approach that coupled with some successful stories, leads to systems that decrease the variance between the two outcomes (failure and success) and also shift it to the right.

Having pondered during this blog post based on the assumption that there is a distinction both objective and subjective between success and failure, it would be unfair to call at this point on the reevaluation of this assumption. Nevertheless, its evaluation (both under personal and objective terms) is the critical final component that ties together the experiences and the systematic approach that may arise to the different context and lead to its transfer among tasks in something that we have the tendency to characterize as much as a part of our personality.

Having said that, it is very easy to observe the flip side of what I mentioned on tasks that we find both uninteresting and we have no external reasons to ever become good at them. Most likely, I will never get good at playing FIFA 98.

To bring this to a conclusion, perhaps a bit hastily, I am arguing for a more systematic approach of the things that we consider important. The shape of the system can differ. Reflection on the differences can reveal some of the underlying properties of the topic we are occupied with. Comparison with other systems we or others have followed in the past can lead to generilisable attributes that we may one day promote to what we feel defines us. Contemplation of what consists of success and what is a failure has the potentially of profoundly shaping our values. Observing the flip side of all that can reveal what is really what interests us and why, which is the long road of arriving to the first sentence of this blog post.

How to talk about FIRE at a party

This is a guide on how to try to sound smart at a party while talking about FIRE. Given that this is in the context of a party, half of it will be nonsense. You, as a reader, will decide which half. If you read it twice, you may realize that the other half is nonsense too.

Having said that, let me also increase the prestige of this blogpost by reminding you that I am not a financial advisor.

There will be two sides of the story, for and against the FIRE movement. If you feel neutral about either and you just want to impress someone at the party, voice the opinion that people have heard less but they can still confidently follow. If you have already form an opinion, just read the point of view that is closer to what you already believe, as we usually do on the web nowadays.

Having explained the setup, let’s proceed to the guide which is in the form a question/answer. It has the potential to significantly expand your social circle when you talk to your acquaintances about FIRE. And by saying potential, I mean it is very likely that it will do nothing. It definitely hasn’t helped me. At any party. Not that I am invited to any, anyways.

  • What is FIRE?

FIRE stands for Financial Independence, Retire Early. Sounds lit? It is basically the idea that you can make enough money at some point in your life so you don’t have to work again.

For: You save money. Put it in something that gives a high interest rate, and withdraw only once you reach a goal. People have done some maths (Trinity study, later studies) and it works. No need to rely on external factors or wait for an official retirement age. You can be free to do whatever your heart desires after you reach your goal.

Against: This is a DIY privatized retirement plan with uncompensated risk (you die early). A lot of the mechanics are heavily disputed (SWR — Safe Withdrawl Ratio) and essentially is for people who don’t know what to with their money.

  • What is Financially Independent?

Financially Independent is the person who doesn’t need to work for the rest of their lives. (Insert joke here “I have enough money if I die tomorrow”).

For: If you hate your job, you have the opportunity to do something else. Even if you like it, you don’t have to worry much about outside factors (what your boss thinks of you) that may diminish your motivation to do it properly.

Against: Being part of the society means also doing work that you don’t really enjoy. Even if you are financially independent, this moral obligation doesn’t change. At the end of the day, someone has to do the work that no ones wants to do.

  • What are the mechanics of FIRE? (practice)

There are long books that essentially will tell you things are complicated. Follow this strategy. They may also explain a little bit why they are complicated. Nevertheless, they are not THAT complicated, but in any case, not the most fun thing to explain in a party.

For:

  1. Make sure you have no debt, unless that’s very cheap (mortgage).
  2. Save enough money in case of emergency (3-6 months).
  3. Buy the ETF called VT until you come close to (early) retirement.
  4. When you are getting closer to your retirement, start increasing your allocation to bonds (perhaps reaching 40%).

Against:

Live your life now. You may die sooner than you think. You will definitely never be as young as you are now. Your memories that you take in your retirement are more important than your money.

  • What are the mechanics of FIRE? (theory)

You save a lot of money. Saving money means that you earn more than you spend. If you have risk tolerance (e.g. you are young), you put your money in stocks which historically and averaging long enough periods of time have returns of about 7%. Otherwise, you put your money on bonds (2-3% returns) which are more stable. If you are really risk averse, you can have them even in cash in a bank account.

There are other strategies too, like using structured products, which usually make more sense for institutions because they involve fees that don’t scale well at individual level. There are also markets of other assets classes (precious metals like gold) or private companies that go beyond what is fun to explain during a party.

There are also strategies that are a mix of stocks, bonds, and cash.

For: You have worked harder or smarter than others. You take advantage of the exponential nature of the returns (compound interest) and you are being rewarded for being proactive and understanding our financial system with the option of being able to retire early.

Against: Your life is sustained by the work of others. The stock market is a way aggregates way too much capital back to the people who already have it, under the false pretense of return for assumed risk. The argument that capital allocation reflects prioritization to social beneficial initiatives is … (sip some drink here and quickly skip to another topic. If someone insists, see further points below. The trick is to not make your audience tired with too many financial details and you don’t want to sound like a communist. Waving hands can go a long way to a drunk audience. Much better than starting a 10 minute monologue.)

  • What is an ETF?

ETFs are stocks. Essentially ETFs are special companies that the only thing they do is to own shares in other companies. Because they also need to make some money, they charge you some fees, called TER. Because they also want to make some more money, they also lend their shares to short-sellers but that doesn’t really affect you.

By buying an appropriate ETF, you buy a little bit of many companies. A popular strategy is to buy a little bit of (almost) every company in the world. That’s what you do by buying VT. Of course, in practice it is impossible to buy a bit of every company in the world (due to lack of liquidity for small companies among other practical reasons) so they are some kind of approximation to that.

For: ETFs is the only investment that you need to make, apart from bonds. You don’t have to worry about companies going bankrupt or losing a lot of value, because you have a little bit from many of them. Just buy an ETF with low TER and you are set for life.

Against: ETF is one of the surest ways to make guaranteed money in the stock market… by creating them. By creating them, you charge the people who buy them, you make money by lending their shares and you also keep the voting rights for yourself (or charge extra to lend your shares to those who want the voting rights).

  • What is a bond?

Bond is a loan. There are bonds issued by governments and by companies. That means that a government (or a company) asks for some money now and promises that they will pay you back later. Bonds in theory help you diversify further and therefore decrease your systematic risk. Nevertheless, in practice their performance recently has a quite high correlation with stocks.

For: Bonds are more stable than ETFs because their return is guaranteed unless the government (or company) goes bankrupt. Nevertheless, their returns are smaller, especially nowdays.

Against: Bonds are an alternative way of financing a company without diluting the voting rights of the current stockholders or making them share with you their future profits. The company essentially bets that your return will be smaller compared to that of the current shareholders. You are fine with the smaller return only because you want to decrease its volatility.

  • Should I buy stocks?

Stock is a piece of a company. Buying a stock gives you (partial) ownership and with that some voting rights on the decisions that the company makes. By buying stocks to specific companies, you are exposing yourself to the risk associated with the destiny of that company.

For: Only buy ETFs. Buying a stock of a company is too much trouble and likely you will get it wrong. There are way too many stocks, you are competing with professionals and the chances that you can outperform them are minimal. That’s why choosing an ETF with a low TER and tracking error are so important.

Against: To replicate a market capitalization index fund can be done relatively easy with some automation if you care enough or alternatively manual rebalancing should be good enough for practical purposes. Nevertheless, it may be too tempting to spend time on things that make small difference to the world (or your world) that it may not be the most advisable path.

  • Should I do day trading?

Day trading is the activity of buying and selling stocks in short period of time. Some people call it speculation instead of investment because the time horizon makes a difference on the mentality.

For: No. Not worth the trouble or the fees that this may incur.

Against: No. Not worth it.

  • How does really buying a stock (or an ETF) work?

You open an account with a service called broker. This is a website (or an app) that shows you stocks, ETFs and other stuff you can buy (or sell). Once you choose something to buy, this service forwards your order to another service called wholesaler. A wholesaler aggregates many orders and tries to match them internally. That is, if for a stock they see an offer to buy for 200$ and to sell for 100$, they will execute internally. Then, they will split the difference with all participants (including them, the broker, you, your counterparty, the other broker…). If they don’t manage to do that for some reason, the order will go a stock exchange where it will be matched against other orders. On top of the fees that you pay based on the splitting of the spread difference, you also pay commission fees and taxes for your purchase (or sell). If you are interested in this topic more, you can search terms like “dark pool”, “odd lot” and so on.

For: It doesn’t matter. As long as you buy and hold, the mechanics of a single transaction don’t go beyond the level of noise.

Against: There are too many intermediates that make money out of a system that they purposefully keep obscure.

  • Amazing! How do you know all this stuff?

If we reached this part during a party, which I highly doubt since you are from the people who are still reading this blogpost, it means the above worked! Congrats! Now you have the self-confidence to also make up some financial “facts” to impress at a party!

For: What is your phone number?

Against: What is the phone number of your friend?


You may have noticed that above I didn’t include any links. That’s because I just made up this blog post. Don’t take it too seriously. Feel free to leave a comment with your opinion or made up facts in the comments though. I promise not to take them seriously.

Gnome vs KDE

Some pieces of software have an imaginary part and just like complex number, you can’t enforce an ordering. You may have infinite options with the same length (but only one with zero length).

I am tired of flame wars.

Long vs Short in investing

To long a stock, is to own one. That is, when it goes up, you make money and when it goes down you lose money.

To short a stock is about the opposite. That is, when it goes up, you lose money and when it goes down you make money.

That has an important consequence. Owning a stock has a lower bound on your losses (the stock becomes worthless) and theoretically no upper bound on wins. Shorting a stock is the opposite. You can win only up to the amount the stock has decreased in value but your losses are unbounded.

Moreover, shorting a stock, due to the mechanics (you have to borrow it from someone) also incurs higher costs.