Contemplations and Consumptions: Vol 16


I discovered Jim Simons when I read his obituary in the New York Times earlier this month. I was fascinated by his story and decided to get his biographical book referenced in the obituary.

Jim Simons was a brilliant mathematician who believed that financial market prediction was a maths problem. He hired a team of mathematicians and scientists to develop computer models that analysed historical financial data to predict future market prices. They did all this without any financial or business background.

Simons’ company, Renaissance Technologies, created big data machine learning models years before they became fashionable in Silicon Valley. The company regularly outperformed the markets and produced huge returns for its employees and investors.

Renaissance Technologies was able to identify and exploit profitable inefficiencies in the financial markets overlooked by other investors.

Simons told a colleague in the early days of Renaissance Technologies that ‘if we have enough data, I know we can make predictions.’ The team spent years collecting and cleaning historical financial data for their models, which gave them a competitive advantage over their rivals.

The predictive computer models were so sophisticated and powerful that even the team didn’t fully understand how it made financial trades based on the analysed data. The goal of these models was not to be always right but to be right enough to generate profits for the company and its investors.

The Man Who Solved the Market is one of the best books I have read this year. Gregory Zuckerman wrote a compelling biographical account of Simons’ journey from academia to finance and the involvement of all the men who helped him build the models that beat the market.


📺 (TV Show)

Diarra from Detroit is an enjoyable TV show. What makes the show special is the way Diarra Kilpatrick tackles the TV crime mystery genre. She blends this genre with romantic-comedy (Rom-Com) elements, ensuring that seriousness is balanced by comic relief.

Diarra Kilpatrick plays Diarra Brickland, a Black woman going through divorce proceedings, who moves back to her childhood home in the Detroit projects. She goes on a date with a guy she meets through a dating app, and he then ghosts her because he was kidnapped. Despite her friends’ concerns, she spends her energy trying to figure out what happened to him.

Gillian Tett, in Anthro-Vision, said, ‘a good story catches the audience’s attention by offering something familiar, but a better story opens their eyes to something strange too, that they did not expect, like the second half of a domino.’

Diarra Kilpatrick weaves familiar and strange elements in this show by telling stories of Black characters in a familiar TV genre that historically rarely features them. The fact that the show’s protagonist is a strong Black woman only highlights the strangeness of this show and what makes it successful. She has created and executive produced a show that is personal for her but universal for the audience.

Other Black creators have examined familiar genres from a Black perspective and produced fresh stories. Jordan Peele is famous for his exploration of the horror genre via movies like Get Out and Us. Dewayne Perkins and Tracy Oliver tackled the slasher horror genre in their movie, The Blackening, by infusing it with comedy and satire. Jeymes Samuel did likewise in his movies: The Harder They Fall (Western genre) and The Book of Clarence (Faith-Based genre).

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