Daily Speculations

The Web Site of Victor Niederhoffer & Laurel Kenner

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Tom Ryan on Sportsmanship

One of the more interesting takeaways I got from reading Moneyball by Lewis was that psychologically, when it came to the players, the die was already cast by the time they made it to AAA or the big leagues. And this from a guy (Beane) who was known as 'Mr. Volcano' by his teammates. I saw this in the army. There is a myth about how trial by fire either in severe training or combat changes a person. Well it does and it doesn't. I think it does in terms of one’s outlook on life, but with regard to social skills and outlook toward others, I am not so sure.

I also see this in my business. In this field you run into eccentric geniuses now and then who seem to just have an inordinately difficult time getting along with others or with their own life. For example, a brilliant mining geologist who worked in Nevada for years with various companies, one after another, had this one-man crusade to end ranching on public lands that was so passionate he was often questioned by the FBI and had his trailer burned to the ground one night. Or the genius rock mechanics engineer who got his girlfriend in high school in Gillette pregnant at age 17, got his girlfriend in college in Butte pregnant at age 21, and his girlfriend in Soda Springs pregnant. Three child support payments in three states by age 30. And of course there was a fourth in Tucson two years after his employment with us. Or the incredibly talented mine modeler who "had" to leave Reno for unknown reasons (we thought bad marriage) and who, on her first job for us diverted herself to Las Vegas for a few hours on her way to Asia and then showed up at the client site in Malaysia with no money because she lost all of her travel advance gambling in the few hours she spent in Vegas on her way to LAX. Anyway we are always susceptible here when it comes to hiring people like this but our experience is that people don't really change and as a result it just never seems to work out.