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Showing posts from 2024

The Darkest Days: Israel Gaza 6-months on... my reaction

Last night I watched a one hour BBC documentary introduced by Lyse Doucet called The Darkest Days . It was aired exactly 6 months after Hamas murdered over 1,200 Israelis. The documentary was in 2 parts. Footage and interviews in Israel following the attack, then a similar amount of footage describing (in gory detail) the carnage that followed, and continues to this day, in Gaza. I was in tears.  Watching anyone in pain, whether from physical injury or grief, is difficult at the best of times. But watching children and parents suffering - that's really hard to take. After watching it, I asked myself two questions. How could presumably sane people like the Hamas gunmen (of which there were hundreds or more involved) possibly commit those horrors? And what would I have done in retaliation - especially with regard to freeing the hostages?  It's really hard for someone like me, an atheist grandfather, living comfortably in a relatively peaceful society to put myself in the shoes of

The Valley of Death. Why most angel investments lose money.

I have been investing in start-up companies (businesses with little or no trading history) for around 20 years. Unfortunately, despite knowing a great deal about starting and selling businesses, at least half of the ones I pick eventually fail and lose me all the money I invested in them... although some of it might be recoverable as tax relief. So over the years, I've come to realise that the odds are heavily stacked against me backing a winner - typically defined as a sale of my shares, known as an exit , within 10 years, paying me at least 10 times the money I invested. To get the same result from guaranteed compound interest over 10 years, you would have to be paid a rate of about 25% - so get it right, and it's a big prize. I've managed it a couple of times, so overall have recovered most of what I've lost on the many companies who died, but it's a very high risk game. So why do so many angel investments in particular die, and why is it so hard for us to spot t

Prediction for peace in Ukraine

I started writing this on New Year's Eve 2023/24. The war in Ukraine has been grinding on for nearly two years. In the past couple of days, Russia has increased its intensity of rocket attacks across the whole of Ukraine. Many of those missiles are being intercepted and as far as I can tell, not much is being damaged. Russia's hope is presumably that these attacks will sap the morale of the state as well as absorb what's left of their US supplied anti-missile resources. At some point, Ukraine's stockpiles of war materials and trained military will be depleted compared to Russia's vastly superior stockpile including more than 2,000 warplanes they have been loathe to use until Ukraine's defences are weaker, and Russia will eventually push west when it controls the skies. We can't allow that to happen for two reasons: Where will they stop, and the further west they advance, the less the citizens in the territories they occupy will be prepared to accept Russian