My Predicted 2020 Presidential Electoral Map

I’m predicting that Joe Biden will win a slim electoral majority, as well as a large popular-vote advantage, over Donald Trump.

election 2020

In this particular scenario, the swing states all go for Trump, except for Arizona and Florida, which Biden wins. Both Arizona and Florida have large elderly populations, and I don’t think they’re much caring for the way Trump is treating them as disposable people when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you would like to make your own prediction-map, the website to visit to do so is www.270towin.com.

Cubes Made of Lux Blox

What is a cube? That’s a simple question, and I thought it had a simple answer . . . until I took on the project of building cubes with Lux Blox. Lux can be bought at this website, but one thing you won’t find there, or in shipments of Lux, are directions. This was a little frustrating at first, but I understand it now: the makers of Lux don’t want directions getting in the way of customers’ creativity.

A cube has six square faces. This is the six-piece Lux model based on that statement.

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This first cube model is interesting, but it is also severely limited. Lux Blox connect at their edges, and all edges in this model are already used, joining one face to another. The model has no openings where more can be attached, and added to it.

Next, I made a cube out of Lux Blox which is open, in the sense that more Lux Blox can be attached to it. It also has an edge length of two.

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Besides the openness of this model to new attachments, it also has another characteristic the smaller cube did not have: it can be stretched. If you take two opposite corners of this model and gently pull them away from each other, here’s what you get:

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Stretching a cube in this manner creates a six-faced rhombic polyhedron known as a parallelopiped.

The third cube model I’ve built of Lux Blox uses Lux Trigons in addition to the normal square-based Lux Blox.

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In this model, the black pieces in the center are the Lux Trigons — twelve of them, occupying the positions of twelve of the twenty faces of an icosahedron. The other eight faces are where the orange triangles (or triangular prisms, if you prefer) are attached. The orange triangles mark the eight corners of a cube. This model has pyritohedral symmetry — the symmetry of a volleyball — as I hope this last picture, a close-up of this third type of cube, helps to illustrate.

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On Picking Stocks and Mutual Funds: An Experimental Proposal

[Important disclaimer: I am not a registered investment advisor. If you choose to try the experiment described below, which is shared with everyone for free, the risk is yours alone.]

Lots of people have jumped into the stock market lately, many of them with little experience. That isn’t stopping them, though; they’re creating Robinhood accounts and trading penny stocks at a blinding rate. I’m writing this to propose an experiment individuals can use to evaluate their own skills at picking stocks and mutual funds. This experiment does require some experience investing, but not much.

First, divide your investment capital into three parts of equal size. With the first part, buy either QQQ or SPY, or equal amounts of each. These are ETFs which track well-known stock indices: the technology-heavy NASDAQ 100 and the broader S&P 500, respectively. This chart shows how the S&P 500 has performed over the last five years.

stock chart

This first third of the investment money is analogous to a control group; it is the standard by which we measure the performance of the other two-thirds.

The second third is to be invested in no-load, open-ended, actively-managed mutual funds. You should try to choose the best ones you can find. Two that I’ve bought shares of, myself, are TRBCX (a fund which invests mostly large-cap blue-chip stocks), and WAMCX (a fund investing in small-cap, rapidly-growing companies’ stocks).

The final third is made of stocks you pick and buy/hold/sell yourself, using whatever criteria you choose. If you run this experiment for six months (or longer), and this third is the largest at the end of this period, you have good evidence that your stock-picking methods work well, justifying continuing investing in this manner.

If, on the other hand, your hand-picked mutual funds do best, then the data supports the idea that you’re a good fund-picker, but should probably not invest in individual stocks.

Finally, what if SPY and/or QQQ do best? If that is the case, I wouldn’t try to beat the market with my own picks, but would simply invest in open-ended index funds, or ETFs.

I’m trying this experiment myself. So far, my hand-picked mutual funds are doing best. If the running of this experiment continues in this way, I’ll abandon the picking of individual stocks, in favor of mutual funds. Of course, it’s always possible to study and learn new things. If this running of the experiment yields the answer “funds,” there’s nothing stopping me from studying stock-picking some more, and then repeating the experiment to see if I get better results for the choosing of individual stocks. One could also abandon the experiment, but continue to invest in those particular stocks which did well.

There are some types of investment I haven’t mentioned here. Cash, money market funds, CDs, and bonds were not mentioned because interest rates are at historic lows, limiting the return one can get from such investments. As for derivatives, such as options or futures, those have not been included simply because I have no experience with derivatives. Traditional hedges against inflation, such as gold and silver, are not included because inflation is almost non-existent.

One last thing: Robinhood’s customers will have a hard time doing this experiment, for that company does not offer mutual funds. Schwab does, though; that’s the broker I use — and the one I recommend. You can find them online at http://www.schwab.com.