Thursday, July 01, 2010


I am planning to start posting again. Stay tuned.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A quick entry on earmarks

I haven't posted much lately, mainly because I have been incredibly busy. I feel compelled to write something about earmarks though, if only to point out the absurdity of the coverage of this bill.

Most Americans, myself included, have no understanding of how much much money is spent in the budget per year or how much it takes to actually get a budget passed. Moreover, most Americans, myself included, have no appreciation for how much $1 billion is, let alone $400+ billion (or $700+ billion or whatever). My understanding of Congress, from what little experience I have, is that it's going to take a lot more than talk to get the quid pro quo nature of government spending in line with private enterprise, and in all likelihood, it won't happen. But "earmarks" and "lobbyists" and what have you are necessary evils to get things done. And once this new administration and the markets calm down over what has become a self-fulfilling spiral, maybe things will start turning around so that twenty years from now, we're not worse off than we are now.

What the news reports about earmarks and how much billions are devoted to them fail to advertise is how small a percentage they actually are
. The budget is estimated at $410 billion or so and earmarks make up $7.6 billion. That's 1.9%. Considering how inefficient government typically is, the fact that the number got whittled down to this one is amazing in itself. And this 9000 number they keep tossing around is another red herring when you consider how complex and detailed the budget actually is. I say let's see what happens over the next six-eight months and make incremental adjustments along the way. But then again, I'm not the president. And neither is the 24/7 media reporting on the various situations that arise daily.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Fun with Madoff

Harry Markopolos, the now famous whistle blower who attempted to blow the cover on the Madoff ponzi scheme, testified before Congress today. I tried to find the actual transcript of the testimony after hearing about it from some people at work, but no dice. One summary was found here.

Some gems from the actual testimony include:

"Right now, the SEC is 3,500 chickens; we need to put some foxes in there."

"I plan on turning in a one-billion-dollar mini-Madoff to the SEC tomorrow." "I hope they will listen to me this time."

"If you flew the entire SEC staff to Fenway Park, they wouldn't be able to find first base."

From his prepared remarks (also a good read) you will find this one:

The biggest, most glaring tip-off that this had to be fraud was that BM only reported 3 down months out of 87 months whereas the S&P 500 was down 28 months during that time period. No money manager is only down 3.4% of the time. That would be equivalent to a major league baseball player batting .966 and no one suspecting that this player was cheating, and therefore fictional.

But the real kicker is how much money is $50 billion. I know CNN ran an article talking about how much a trillion dollars is, but this amount of money is just as staggering. If you spent $50/hour for 2009 years, you would still not go through one billion dollars. To blow through $50 billion in that same amount of time, you would need to spend $2839.15/hour. This is a ton of money. Which makes these comments all the more comical.

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

The Superbowl ads were super bad, but one online was pretty funny

For what turned out to be a great Superbowl game, the ads certainly were much more of a let down. I figured with the economy tanking there may be some funny ones that played on bailouts and what not, but they were plain terrible. If you missed them, Hulu has them online. I can't imagine how USA today will rank them tomorrow, but my overall impression is that they must have laid off the creative staff in some of these ad agencies. The Doritos and Cheetos ones were pretty funny though, and I laughed when that ostrich chased the mailman. The David Abernathy one was terrible.

In looking around for some of them on the internet this morning, I came across one that is so stupid that it actually works. It could use some work, but the concept would have worked for the Superbowl - people would have talked about this commercial, and they would have remembered it. Take a look at Coors 2nd Life Superbowl Commercial. Disagree or not, it's better than these Clydesdale commercials, which need to go the way of the frogs.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

President Obama elected

I was able to watch part of the inauguration today. One thing I thought was good about the speech was that it attempted to inspire people to start setting goals and trying to unite together. And manage expectations, that's the big thing I got out of it. Excellent speech. There are plenty of sites with the text of Obama's inauguration speech (or here) so I need not repeat any of it here.

I also sort of laughed when he and the chief justice flubbed up the oath. Hey, if anything it shows they make mistakes like anyone else. I think they were both just anxious and nervous, and as one article said, it was "close enough for government work." Embarrassing yes, but what can you do. I thought they played it off well. At least all of these silly suits about his citizenship were immediately mooted as a result, if they are even still around.

Looking over the crowd, I am still amazed how many people the president has inspired and this probably was the most watched event ever. It's a good thing, and probably has larger, long-term effects than any of us realize right now.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

New season of 24: pass

As a followup to my post the other day, I did wind up watching most of the four hour season premiere of 24. I'm sure there will be some good episodes mixed in, but the plot isn't doing anything for me and I will not be watching any further episodes, except maybe the season finale depending on my schedule. Frankly, the whole idea of a massive government conspiracy (which seems to be the basis for every season of 24) is just a bit spent. Fortunately, I have plenty of work to keep me busy, even in this slow economic time.

But, if you like the action and conspiracy theories that are prevalent in the past couple of seasons of 24, I'm sure you'll devote another day out of your life to watching Jack Bauer save the day again. I'll be content to just read the top 100 facts about Jack Bauer instead.

Now, Lost is another story - I'm too far invested in the show to give up on it this close to the finish. Only another week or so to go for that one.

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

24 new season starts up

Although I have been fairly successful in limiting my television watching (or at least limiting the tivo to just a couple of shows), I think I'm going to go ahead and watch 24 tonight and then decide whether I want to keep watching it or just record it and watch it all at once in the summer. It is nice having the freedom to watch shows online at my own convenience, that's for sure.

So is the new season of 24 going to be any good? I'm sure that it will be entertaining and nowadays I need some mindless crap to watch just to keep things interesting and sane.

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

NY Model wants to unmask anonymous commenter

A blogger called model Liskula Cohen a "skank" has decided that she wants to confront the person who hurled the insult under the guise of first amendment protection. See Model Liskula Cohen Sues Google Over Blogger's 'Skank' Comment. Apparently these posts came shortly after what amounted to a drunken brawl.

Now, I'm no first amendment expert, but I think that implying that this is a slam dunk defamation case is a little bit much. Of course, I haven't read the complaint either, and I'm sure there is more to it than the article makes there out to be. Regardless, it's an uphill wall to climb, and I'm sure this just made the headlines for lack of more pressing things to report about. Doesn't this model bring more negative publicity to herself by bringing such a longshot suit? At least she acknowledges that this is "petty . . . stupid and . . . pathetic." Oh wait, that's what she said about the sniping. Same difference.

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Monday, January 05, 2009

Thoughts after a month of online dating with

Much of this sort of echoes my previous experiences with online dating, but it's changed somewhat since I'm not in school and I'm actually have a decent job, so I thought it worth writing some thoughts. Maybe someone with experience from the other side can chime in as well. I almost am tempted to do something along the lines of what Law With Grace does out in Chicago with some of these dates, but I'll have to think about that some more.

I did have drinks with someone who told me she had just quit her job to go back to school (at night), but when I asked why they didn't want to take a part time job (during the day), she told me she wouldn't be able to collect unemployment. She must have seen the look of confusion on my face and it ended not too long thereafter.

This whole winking and emailing is nonsense. Winking moreso than emailing. I hate email, but you have to do it in order to get anywhere on this site. One girl told me she averaged 30 winks a day during the week and double on the weekend, and probably 10 or so emails a week. I had no response to that one other than shock and awe. Well, more shock and then a thought that maybe I'm not emailing enough to different girls. Then again, apparently a boatload of these are from divorcees and men with two or more half-children, so it sort of makes sense now why so many women feel compelled to put in their description that they don't want 60 year olds emailing them.

I could write more, but there's simply no point. Since I often get searches for "how long should I wait to respond to a wink" (or the other side of the coin "how long does it take for someone to email back"), however, I'll simply offer this advice: There is no internet etiquette (or at least the threshold is pretty low). If you're interested in a guy or girl who winks, you should respond within one day. If you're not interested, use the "no thanks" option. Same goes with email. If it takes a day or two and she seems to be playing on the swingers calendar, I take the same amount of time to respond. Other times I do it that day, but mainly because (again), I hate email and I figure I'll forget otherwise.

If you send one email and don't get a response, I take that to mean they aren't interested. Apparently others interpret this to mean send another two or three emails and a bunch of winks, or, in one case, stalk them on facespace or over i-m after figuring out their name. Weirdos. Don't do that, you're making the rest of us look bad. It's like that saying, if you don't know who the most annoying kid in your class is, it must be you.

Also, I can't tell you how many profiles I've seen where women under 6'0 are looking for men more than six inches taller? Seriously? There must be a lot of men on this site that lie about their height. Because of this, and these weirdo emailers, I'm beginning to think people like me (who stands at a meager 5'9) are getting screwed over.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Uncle Scrooge decides to put a tax on air

This is just ridiculous: Gov. David Paterson unveils dire New York State budget that includes new taxes, layoffs and cuts. This is the sort of progressive taxing plan that operates to hurt those not making those hefty six figure salaries. Taxes are going up on everything related to entertainment, junk food, travel, clothes, gas, and everything else. This almost reminds me of the Simpson's Radioactive Man episode where Springfield taxed the movie company out of production, but just not as funny. I wonder how McDonalds and Coke are going to react to this one. Why not start putting a tax on people's weight and complete the circle.

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