Better Parenting via Broken iPhones

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Well, I broke my iPhone. I tried to remove some dust that was mucking up my camera but, after some unscrewing, prying, opening, tilting, spraying (canned air), praying, closing, and powering on – it did not power on. Actually it did, but it looked like a glitch in the Matrix. Not the good kind of glitch that the movies are built around, but a real glitch.

The mistake, as most things do, reminded me of parenting. You see, there was no reason ex ante to think that the repair wouldn’t work. The video demonstration of the fix was only five minutes long in itself. How much can you mess up in five minutes?

Apparently an iPhone.

I did not know this. If I had known the outcome, I wouldn’t have done what I did. That’s the thing with kids, they never know the outcome. They need time to mess up, screw up, and blow up to learn. I never would have known the perilous balance of an iPhone innard without opening it up. Now I know.

My kids need to mess up too. It’s part of growing up. The issue is that I weigh in on their choices ex post. As the expression goes, hindsight is 20/20. Of course they wouldn’t write on the walls or jump on their sister if they had perfect information. But they didn’t. The acted with good intentions, but harvested a bad outcome.

I will do to remember that, and I’ll have a constant reminder in my pocket.

Weekly review #39, what I’ve been reading and writing. 

I finished When Genius Failed, the story of Long Term Capital Management, a hedge fund from the mid-90’s. It’s an interesting story but unlike some other books, I don’t know what the big takeaways are. Watch out for hubris, don’t be a know it all – what else?

One of the big ideas is the idea that data and knowledge aren’t absolute attributes. They’re good to have, but not the only things you want. Pattern recognition is a big skill. Even in 94-98 there was a lot of data to read and story to tell. Had the LTCM guys thought more in terms of patterns (particularly the blow ups) they wouldn’t have blown up.

I’ve added a few other financial history books to my list and as I read more – much like my experience with kids, cooking, education, psychology, and economics – I’ll see more patterns in books like When Genius Failed.

One of them is Misbehaving by Richard Thaler. It’s doesn’t introduce a lot of psychology or economics that I’m unfamiliar with BUT it does explain the birth of those topics. This is a big deal. As each war comes out of the previous war and as each financial crisis is influenced by more than just the economics, so too do idea births matter. The radio wave is a good example about how the invention influences other things.

This week was a slow week for writing. I published a post about how my productivity increased when I stopped watching football. I also speculated about what Bill Simmons will do at HBO. Not much this week because I’m working on a longer project.

// Photo is of our backyard sunflowers.

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