Thursday, May 28, 2009

Things that make you go Hmmm

Nicholas Kristoff reports that conservatives are more likely to report being disgusted by something than a liberal.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Management Ego

Ever notice how management operates under the assumption that any Sally, Tom or Rajesh can take over your cubicle without any meaningful loss in productivity - but THEY are indispensable?

Friday, May 15, 2009

QOD - Eric Hoffer

Absolute faith corrupts as absolutely as absolute power.

Eric Hoffer

Thursday, May 14, 2009


I have refrained from commenting on the Lost series, ever so popular in Blogistan. I have reserved judgment because I sensed that the philosophical themes that everyone raves about were baked in from the beginning and therefore may prove well-thought out. Inspite of being disappointed by every movie or TV show featuring time-travel I held out hope that Lost might transcend the rabble. After all, a number of people whom I consider thoughful and discriminating follow the show.

Well, I am refraining no more. Posts here and here relate the details of the finale of the penultimate season, setting up the last season in which all will be revealed. First, let me state that until proven otherwise, mathematically, time-travel always ruins a plot. Lost shows no sign of overturning this axiom. Characters are bouncing around changing the past in order to "save" the present. This always leads to arbitrary plot twists that sound interesting to philosophers but make poor story telling. The nail inthe coffin for Lost is, however, the revelation that one of the characters actually died and is being impersonated by someone else who is attempting to manipulate events. So now we have, essentially, an Evil Twin, that bugaboo of really bad who-dun-its.

Of course, I should have seen the signs. When they name the characters John Locke and Christian Shepherd one shouldn't expect subtilty or cleverness. Hell, they slapping you in the face with the names! It was all a little too clever - like the Matrix with out the gratuitous violence.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Saw The Star Trek Prequel

Saw The Star Trek Prequel and didn't care for it much.

Aside from the gratuitous summer movie scenes, I found the bad-guy uninteresting and the time travel uninspired. I was really looking forward to some background on the crew and what did I get? Parallel Universe. Like time travel, this provided the writers a science fiction hack that allowed them to arbitrarily tinker with the plot and characters. At some point it stops being the Kirk and Spock and starts being "something else." For crying out loud, it ain't Star Trek if Uhura and Spock are snogging on the transporter pad!!!!

The biggest disappointment was having the supposed tension between Kirk and Spock resolved by having Future-Spock (tm) inform Kirk that they are supposed to be friends instead of having the bond develop organically. Like I said, ruined by time travel.

I admit that the characters were pretty good - if over the top in a first-in-the-series sort of way. Bones was brilliant., Spock was good. Not sure about how Scottie came across but I would be willing to see how that goes(if this weren't an alternate reality, of course, where there is no expectation that he will develope into the James Doohan character!) Even Kirk seemed to a have a spark of what the REAL James T Kirk showed in later life.

My wife and sister-in-law really liked this movie. Once again I am alone in all the Federation in feeling let down by a movie that everyone else raves about.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Have We All Been Fools?

1982 marked the end of a 16 year, secular bear market, which saw the Dow finally get over 1,000 on a permanent basis. It kissed that level in 1966, and again a few more times prior to breaching that level for good. 16 year nominal returns were zero, but on a real (inflation adjusted) basis buy & hold investors lost nearly 90% of the purchasing power. [emphasis added]

Barry Ritholz, The Big Picture - Market Rally: 1974 or 1982?
Have we all been fools? I personally remember being told by some 401K salesman that the market always makes money over X number of years. Of course I reealized that they always choose values for X that obfuscate periods like that above (or now?) but I don't remember it being 16 years - closer to 10. Of course, these salesmen also calculate their averages starting in the depths of the Depression instead of in early 1929. Lies and damn lies.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Why is flu season in winter?

Because the virus is more stable and stays airborne longer when it's cold. Cells infected with flu virus are coated in a fatty material that hardens and protects them in low temperatures. (When you inhale a flu particle, that coating melts in the respiratory tract, releasing the virus.) Viruses also stay in the air more easily when the air is cold and dry. When it's humid, by contrast, flu-carrying vapor droplets get heavier and fall to the ground.

Temperature makes a huge difference in transmission rates. In a study published in 2007, flu researchers exposed guinea pigs to a virus at various temperatures. They found that transmission levels were high at 41 degrees Fahrenheit but declined at increased temperatures. At 86 degrees, the virus did not transmit at all. (Slate's Andy Bowers tackled this question for NPR in 2003.)

Slate Magazine


Next to being shot at and missed, nothing is really quite as satisfying as an income tax refund.
I would have to disagree. Being reminded that there are bullets flying around is somewhat less than reassuring.

QOD - April DeConick

The claim to the miraculous is not the same as the claim to the unexplainable. Something might happen to me that I can't explain (in fact things happen to me quite often that I don't have a ready explanation for), but it doesn't become a miracle until I make it a miracle, a manifestation of the supernatural, by my interpretation of the event.
The Forbidden Gospels Blog