Thursday, December 30, 2010
the nytpicker: NBC's Brian Williams Declares NYT's "Discovery" of Brooklyn As Media Story Of 2010. "It's Like Marrakesh," He Says.
Direct video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOxoCi4wCmI
Not only did I not know how to spell it, I couldn't even get close enough for the spell-checker to figure out what I was talking about. I tried out "conneseiur" and "connesiour", but MS Word (and ironically Chrome as well, which must be using the same spell-check engine), just wanted to suggest words that started with the word "connect" (connections, Connecticut, connectible, etc.). Quickly calculating that the ratio of vowel combinations to my knowledge of French approached infinity, I realized that this was not going to get anywhere. So, I turned to that modern oracle of all knowledge, Google.
In the address bar of my Chrome browser (not even on the Google site!), I started typing: c-o-n-n-e-s. The first suggestion Google gave me was "connestee falls." But the second? You guessed it. Google 1, spell-check 0. And as Google Instant likes to point out, I didn't even have to press enter.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
The English version of the same article omitted this detail.
On a personal note, the tragedy of this fire which claimed 42 lives and destroyed over 7% of Israel's forested land in mere days, weighed heavily on me during this Hanukah. This year, instead of the holiday being about celebrating the light of the eternal flame that our ancestors lit after vanquishing the Greeks from our lands, it was about cheering as Greek - and other - fire-fighting planes helped us extinguish flames that had gone out of control. It was hard to miss this tragic and bittersweet irony.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Facebook Messaging: Do You Really Want to Use a Messaging System Based on a Focus Group of Teenagers?
The product may be revolutionary if you are a modern teenager, Zuckerberg's apparent focus group for the project (if I read another article quoting Zuckerberg as saying that the idea for Messaging "came out of talking to current teenagers" ...). But for the rest of us? Do folks in the real world really want to use a product designed with the communication styles of high schoolers in mind? (and I'm not going to try to mock those communication styles since I'll probably just get it wrong, but we all went to high school once and how many of us want that experience rehashed in our inboxes every day? The occasional Breakfast Club or Ferris Bueller screening should be enough to remind us that *those are not days we want to go back to*)
At the same time, every one of Facebook's attempts at a communications fool so far has been to my taste unbelievably kludgy (think about the existing Facebook Messaging and IM systems compared to their competitors, or Michael Arrington's comment that the previous iteration of Facebook Messaging was "completely unusable as a personal or business productivity tool"). Even the demos of the new Messaging demos I've seen continue much of this kludgy-ness, and my predictions of adoption by the post-high school crowd are extremely low. Do I really want all of my communication to be sorted exclusively by who it's with? And subject lines may be an unnecessary formality in rare cases, but generally they serve to let me know what the rest of the message - and the entire conversation thread - is about, and to separate conversations accordingly.
Finally, there is an inherent conflict of interest b/w the use of private messaging systems like email, in which conversations are designed to be seen only by their recipients, and the kind of public conversations that Twitter and Facebook (through wall posts) encourage. Facebook wants all your conversations to be out there in the open, wants as much public sharing as possible, and email fundamentally represents the opposite of that. Therefore it's hard to see a company like Facebook seriously committing to the development of a private messaging system of any kind, over the long term.
But then again maybe at 31 I'm just an old fogey who doesn't "get it" when it comes to "modern messaging" (as Zuckerberg puts it). I just requested my Messaging invite and may end up eating my words if it promises to be the biggest revolution in modern communication since Twitter. But somehow I doubt it. Communication paradigm shifts happen organically, not by declaration from on high. Just think back to last year when to buzz was all about Wave, another promised revolution in social communication. We all know how that went ...
Sunday, October 24, 2010
After two weeks w/ the iPhone, I thought "Anyone who is worried about not having a keyboard b/c they don't think they'll be able to type just hasn't tried it before." After 24 hours w/ the T-Mobile/Google/HTC G2 I still agree with that statement, but realized that it misses the point. The problem w/ typing on the iPhone (or any other phone w/o a physical keyboard) isn't the typing per se ... it's that the keyboard takes up half the screen! I was perplexed by the decision to include a physical keyboard on the G2 initially, until I started using it and reallized that for applications requiring text imput (which includes web browsing, maps, SMS, twitter, and most other social applications in addition to email) it makes the effective screen size much bigger than the iPhone - or even the mammoth 4.3" Droid X phone.
So, while for short bits of text or applications in which key input is secondary or limited to a lesser number of keys, such as dialing, I use the on screen keyboard with no problem, for longer text writing (including this and my last post), I use the slide out keyboard. The extra weight is slightly annoying, but I'm willing to put up with it for the best of both input worlds.
Some thoughts for the future:
- I wouldn't be surprised if in the next generation or two of phones we saw phones w/ a slide-out second screen instead of a slide out keyboard, where the OS automatically moved the keyboard to the second screen in typing applications.
- In Korean this probably won't be as much of a problem due to the uniquely fast method of inputting the Hangul alphabet on a feature phone keyboard
Everybody thinks that they, personally, are fair and balanced. People who don't are exceptionally intellectual and/or reflective. Don't believe me? Try telling a friend that you think that they are unfair and judgmental. See how far you get.
Therefore it's logical that when someone hears an opinion that they agree with, they will most likely think that it to is fair and balanced, and likewise whomever said it. Otherwise the cognitive dissonance in holding said opinion would be too great.
And herein lies the problem with the complaints that liberals make about Fox News claiming to be Fair and Balanced: they're preaching to the choir. Only people who disagree with Fox News will disagree w/ their slogan, while people who like Fox are going to defend them.
And I say this as one who tends towards the liberal and thinks Fox News is full of sh!t.
Btw if you think the current media situation is untenable and represents the demise of democracy as we know it, you'd do well to read this: http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions/2009/10/26/2009-10-26_unbalanced_even_for_abe.html. I'd say we're slightly better off now from a media perspective and that our democracy has survived just fine in the last 150 years ...
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Asking the question this way would take the question of intentionality out of the picture, and even require accepting disagreeable "personality traits" that will continue even after we have forgiven them (as opposed to something that the other person feels truly "sorry" for and therefore can be expected not to repeat). Could such a request be made? Could it be honored? My rambling reflection complete (more or less), I am curious what you think.
Friday, September 17, 2010
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Great quote at the Liberty Walk, An Interfaith Rally for Religious Freedom. Where else could you find "a Born-Again Christian and a rabbinical student working together to hold a rally in favor of a Muslim community center, held in a Catholic Church?" [audience applause]
Saturday, September 4, 2010
Monday, June 28, 2010
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Monday, March 8, 2010
An Outlook Mystery, Solved: Why Some Emails Have Inline Attachments While Others Have an Attachment Field
Sunday, February 28, 2010
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Thursday, January 14, 2010
According to Hyman Minsky however, speculative is only the middle type of three types of finance: hedge, speculative, and Ponzi. Minsky, for those unfamiliar, is the late American economist whose genius was unappreciated in his lifetime but has suddenly become quite trendy to quote in relation to the recent economic bubble and crash.
Minsky's three types of finance are defined in reference to debt that the "investor" is assumed to have taken to fund his investments. In other words, it does not cover self-funding investments. His model is nonetheless quite useful, as the reality is that most economic activity is funded by debt, be it mortgages, small-business loans, or larger bond floats that are done by major corporations or governments.
Hedge finance, then, is defined as purchasing an investment asset for which the anticipated operating income (rent, dividends, etc.) is sufficient to pay both the interest and principal on the debt incurred to acquire the asset. Regardless of what happens to the value of the asset, the hedge financier is covered. He might not make a killing, but he will not go bankrupt; he is "hedged."
Speculative finance is where the anticipated operating income is sufficient only to pay the interest, but not the principal, on the debt incurred to acquire the asset. The speculative financier can only pay down the principal and avoid bankruptcy by borrowing more money, in the form of new loans or renegotiated terms with the original lender. He is OK as long as the asset value appreciates and he is able to get new loans, but if the asset value depreciates (as it inevitably does when a bubble bursts), he will have a liquidity crunch and both be forced to sell at a loss and potentially face other consequences of not being able to pay back his loan.
The final type of finance, Ponzi finance, is where the anticipated operating income does not even cover the interest. The Ponzi financier finds himself falling into ever greater indebtedness as he borrows new money to pay merely the interest on the old, and will find himself in deep trouble as soon as others realize what he is up to, unless he is so lucky that the asset value appreciates fast enough to allow him to sell and pay back all of his creditors.
According to Minsky, when the economy sours, some of the individuals and firms in the hedge category get pushed to the speculative category as their income goes down, while some of the players in the speculative category find themselves in the Ponzi category. This is precisely what happened in 2008-9 with many of the banks who had liquidity crises as their payments from their CDOs started shrinking as defaults rose.
The original Ponzi, by the way, was not particularly successful at his eponymous scheme, only managing to keep his hustle going for a few months before it crashed.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
As an example, buying oil or wheat to have fuel or grain is not speculation, but buying them to trade them to someone else after their value rises is. Note that it is only speculation if the gain on the commodity is a capital one rather than an operating (or ordinary income) one. In other words, if you are a distributor, retailer, broker, or trader of oil or wheat, you are not speculating. The precise difference between a capital gain and an ordinary gain on a commodity can be fuzzy in some cases, but in general is quite clear.
Once speculation is defined that way, the next step is to consider the special case where the commodity is a stock. Stock is definitely a commodity: one share of a given class of stock in a given company is completely exchangeable for another share of the same class of stock in the same company. Most other securities are commodities as well.
In the case of a security, a capital gain is the result of income from selling the security at a higher price than paid for it. Operating income is the dividends or payments from the security during the period that it is held.
This definition might miss a few cases in its simplicity, such as growth stocks that don't pay dividends, but it's pretty much spot on.
The books is Manias, Panics, and Crashes by Charles Kindleberger. Kindleberger was a professor of economics at MIT for 30 years, and his book is widely cited by other books on market cycles such as Bull! by Maggie Mahar, which is where I read about it.
Saturday, January 9, 2010
I got an email this morning informing me that Amazon was "unable" to obtain the book, which was just published in June.
Apparently sales they must have not done a lot of sales because it is ranked #1,005,832 on Amazon.com and #137,153 on Amazon.co.uk. By comparison, Man Walks into a Pub: A Sociable History of Beer, also by Pete Brown ranked #395,371 in the US and #11,254 in the UK. (It is also #6 under the category of Books > Food & Drink > Drinks & Beverages > Beer, which we don't even have in the US).
Full text is below:
Greetings from Amazon.co.uk.
We regret to inform you that we have been unable to obtain the following item:
Pete Brown "Hops and Glory: One Man's Search for the Beer That Built the British Empire"
This item has now been cancelled from your order #203-2653883-6631506 and we can confirm that you have not been charged for it.
We are no longer able to offer this item for sale. Our supplier has informed us that this item has been discontinued and is no longer available.
Please accept our apologies for any disappointment or inconvenience caused.
If you took advantage of a promotional offer when placing this order, this cancellation may affect your order's eligibility for that offer. If you discover this to be the case, please contact customer service so that we may investigate. You can send an e-mail to customer service from the following URL:
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