January 30, 2007
Just something I noticed today…
What’s wrong with this commercial?
Answer below the fold:
Who the hell buys salmon filets on eBay?!
January 29, 2007
I just found out yesterday that emo isn’t a band, it’s a genre of music. I guess that’s why I’ve never heard the band “emo” on the radio?
January 25, 2007
So I got some new hardware to rebuild my DVR. So I’ve got to relearn some of my linux stuff, as well as expand it to make this work.
And we’re moving The Liberty Papers to a new hosting service. So I need to figure out how to do that. Which isn’t as easy as I thought it might be. I’m nearly to the point where I’ll just pay someone to do it. It needs to happen ASAP, too, because we’re actually getting traffic over there and I don’t want downtime.
Oh, and I’ve got a friend coming into town this weekend, so we need to clean the house.
And— I almost forgot— I have a job.
Yeah. I’m about ready to pull my hair out today.
January 21, 2007
I hung my Gadsden Flag above my desk to give me inspiration when I write. Perhaps I should hang this one up too, to give me inspiration to do my best at the job which actually pays the bills?
Atlas Blogged linked with Can He Lead A Normal Life?
Below The Beltway linked with Congratulations !
January 20, 2007
Tomorrow is going to be tough for me. Normally I don’t get too deep into NFL Football, preferring instead the college game. But it’s always easier to get involved in the playoffs, and now that Purdue has a decade of regularly producing NFL talent, it’s always nice to sit back and watch what that talent is doing.
But growing up in Chicago, being 7 years old when the Bears won Super Bowl XX, I’ve been a fan for years. I still remember the Super Bowl shuffle, can tell you without even looking it up that the Bears beat the Pats by a score of 46-10, that Walter Payton didn’t score a TD (although the “Fridge” did), and that the game occurred on Jan 26, 1986 (the fact that my sister was born the very next day helps with that bit of info). I’ve watched the Bears for years, and there’s a bit of fandom in there. But that’s waned over the years.
First, Chicago hasn’t really ever been known for smart sports management, and the McCaskey family has whiffed many, many years. Then they took a gorgeous historic stone stadium, Soldier Field, and built this weird-looking alien steel monstrosity out of the middle of it. But soon thereafter, they started to revive the team. They built a defense that was again known as the Monsters of the Midway. Then came the final bit. They signed Kyle Orton, Purdue’s QB. Early in the season, the starter went down injured and he led the team to 10 wins as a rookie. All of a sudden, I could forgive the years of bad management and the hideous stadium. They had a team again, with a Purdue QB waiting to challenge Rex Grossman.
And then they destroyed it. They decided that the QB who had led them to 10 wins as a rookie wasn’t an adequate enough backup to Rex Grossman, so they brought in Brian Griese. The one thing that was tying me back to the hometown team was bringing in Kyle Orton, and then they decided to screw him over.
As for the Saints, I’ve never really cared much about them. In fact, the little I knew about them was that they sucked. As another Purdue QB, Drew Brees, was getting screwed over in San Diego, I looked at his chances as a free agent going to either Miami or New Orleans. Of course, I felt he’d have a better shot for success in Miami. But he got traded to New Orleans. At the same time, the Saints gave a few rookies, Rob Ninkovich (Purdue DE, currently active but on IR), Brandon Villereal (Purdue DT, currently on Saints practice team), and Ray Williams (Purdue CB, who unfortunately was released) a chance. Not only that, they started having success. Drew Brees appears to be the key to the offense, a solid leader who makes the players around him perform, finishing second in the NFL MVP voting this year.
So it’s the hometown favorite from a town that’s barely my home anymore, versus following a player that I got to watch sling the rock in person at numerous Purdue games. It’s not often these two teams play, and it’s even more rare that it’s for such high stakes. I’m stuck watching to find out if the Bears get to have a rematch with the team they destroyed in 1986, or whether the Saints, perennial underdogs, shock the world and go to the Super Bowl.
Tomorrow, I’m going to have to fall towards the Saints. I’ve always been a fan of the underdog, and I’ve sat and watched as Drew Brees has worked some miracles for Purdue. He’s back in the Black and Gold, and he’s up for probably the biggest challenge of his career. Drew rises to challenges, so I’m going to be rooting for him and the Saints to knock off the Bears tomorrow.
January 18, 2007
As I’ve mentioned before, my company has kickoff meetings twice a year, and we started a tradition a while back to do a poker tournament on the second night of the event. I’ve won the last two events, with the help of some luck, and I knew it couldn’t last forever. We played last night, and had our biggest turnout with 26 players. I managed not to take the last place finish (which is the winner of a lime-green t-shirt, another tradition), but finished 14th of 26, well out of the money. I only got a few decent hands, mostly in positions where I couldn’t make any money from them, and then as the blinds increased just never increased my stack to have breathing room. In the end, I went all-in and was called on a coin-flip hand, where I didn’t come up “heads”…
What was odd, though, was how much turnover there was. None of the paying spots in this tournament were in the money 6 months ago. And while the money seats were definitely dominated by some of the more solid players in the group, there was one statistical outlier in the group. One player who knew very little about poker, and was drinking pretty heavily, worked his way into 2nd place. It’s odd how someone who has to constantly ask what his options are (to be told repeatedly that it’s to “check, bet, or fold”) can manage to get into 2nd place, but when viewed statistically, it’s merely an aberration. We all catch good cards and bad cards. I won two tournaments in a row partly due to good poker, but also heavily due to catching the lucky card precisely when I needed it. This guy managed to catch the cards without playing good poker, and it was enough to get all the way to the end of the tournament. But it’s still disturbing. I watched as the guy who eventually won (who is an excellent player) was getting frustrated at his inability to destroy a player who had no idea what he was doing.
I’m reminded of something in poker. Being a good poker player is a tremendous indicator of long-term success. But it means absolutely nothing when short-term success is considered.
January 14, 2007
I’ll be in CA all week, and in company meetings most of each day. Posting will be light.
In the meantime, head on over to The Liberty Papers, where the posting is more frequent and much more interesting that it is here.
January 13, 2007
Many of you are familiar with Digg.com, a news aggregator site where the actions of the community of readers propel “worthy” stories ahead of the rest. Essentially, they’re designed to separate the wheat from the chaff. Unfortunately, Digg has some inherent biases and a herd mentality that usually forces smaller blogs and news items, despite their worth, to be overlooked. That being said, I have submitted stories there, because free advertising doesn’t have to be incredibly effective to still be worthwhile.
Recently a new site devoted to the libertarian side of the internet has opened. Liberty Loop operates on the same sort of principle as Digg, but the content is mostly libertarian-oriented. It’s also a new site, so submitted stories are more able to rise to the top and be seen than on the larger sites, and based on it’s libertarian theme, the stories are likely to be seen by their true target audience. Check it out, I’ve been browsing a bit already and it looks like there’s some good content over there.
Hat Tip: Hit & Run
January 12, 2007
When I was in California, I used to have a rule. I had to do 100 sit-ups and 100 push-ups in the evening before I was allowed to drink beer. The move to Georgia, though, put me into a house where the main floor was hardwood, and with my wrist problems, which cause me to need to do pushups on my knuckles instead of palms, that ended my rule.
Now, though, I’m working from home, in the basement, where I have a nice carpeted floor. So I decided to start it up again.
Wednesday, I was doing well. I did 100 sit-ups, and couldn’t really get past about 55 push-ups. I was a bit disappointed in myself, but I understood that my strength might have dropped off a bit over the last two years. So yesterday, I ended up doing only about 50 sit-ups, due to being sore, and about 10 regular push-ups and 20 girl push-ups. And my chest, arms, lats, shoulders, all hurt like hell. So today I decided I would take it easy. No push-ups, because I don’t think I have the strength to lift my 6-lb dog right now. And only about 10 sit-ups. Now my stomach hurts so badly that when I eat, I can feel my sore muscles from the pressure the food exerts from the inside. I’m ashamed of my weakness…
I guess I’m going to have to work my way back up to the old numbers…
January 11, 2007
In a surprising turn, new legislation in Georgia has made it illegal to sell meat on Fridays during Lent. While it has been seen as an unchangeable practice for years to ban Sunday sales of alcohol, Georgia has now become the first state to expand the practice to non-alcohol goods.
The move is a surprise to most people, both in Georgia and around the country. No other states have suggested plans to follow suit, but analysts expect a ripple throughout the South as other evangelical-dominated states consider similar legislation.
The justification for the law, by the legislators, seems unclear. Most have taken a silent approach when asked, but it is largely thought that a small minority of Christians convinced Georgia’s legislators that it was their role to enforce dietary rules of religious observance. Pastor Bobby Smith, of the New Life Church of Atlanta, did suggest that the rules were not intended to bind people to religious observance, but purely as a restriction of commerce:
“I’m not saying that people can’t eat meat on Fridays during Lent,” Smith said, “I just think that we as a society should not be encouraging it. If they want to buy their meat on Thursday, and eat it on Friday, that’s just fine. This isn’t an infringement on anyone’s rights. After all, we’re not making it illegal every day during Lent, just on Fridays. But America was founded on Christian ideals, and I think we should respect the Lord’s wishes on our observance of his laws.”
The new law has drawn ire from many sides. The ACLU issued a joint statement with the American Atheists, threatening lawsuits based on the separation of church and state. Most alcohol-related blue laws have survived such challenges based on the 21st Amendment, but it’s unclear whether the measure will have other legal cover. One Georgia legislator, though, speaking on condition of anonymity, suggested that the court may be the only option to fight this law:
“We’ve learned from the unpopularity of blue laws that very few people are in favor of the law. However, it’s not enough of an imposition that they take the energy to fight the law. The supporters, however, are rabid, and will withhold their vote, as a group, from any politician who endorses the end of blue laws.”
Legal fights are expected to take years. In the meantime, however, Georgia shoppers should hope they remember to buy their meat on Thursday.
Yes, in case you’re wondering, I’ve made all this up.
Sadly, this appears to be the entire justification for the continuation of blue laws. Many politicians fear the end of these laws simply because they’re afraid to upset a core group of rabid constituents. It doesn’t matter that the laws are hypocritical (as in legalizing the sale of “immoral” alcohol but restricting it only one day of the week, unless you’re in a restaurant, in which case it’s okay). Nor does it matter that it’s an infringement upon the rights of people to engage in commerce. It doesn’t even matter that most people don’t support the laws. Nobody in the legislature has the courage to stand up and strike them down.
I was musing the other day, and decided it might be a good time to learn a second language. I studied Spanish in high school, so I figured I might get back into it to the point where I’d be at least semi-fluent in a conversational manner. Not that I had any particular purpose for this desire, but that I really felt bored and like it’s time to learn a new language.
But a comment over at The Liberty Papers, and the blog it leads to, made me realize something. There may come a day when it’s time to get out of the USA. At the very least, I plan to figure out my debt and asset situations such that I can do it if I need to. Outside of the typical benefits of learning a second language, though, knowing how to speak Spanish greatly widens the number of countries I can run to. I had thought of Ireland, Australia, etc. But I don’t want to rule out Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and South America.
So it’s time to get a hold of the Rosetta Stone software, try to remember the 4 years of high school Spanish I took, and start reading Spanish-language media/etc to see exactly how much I can pick up…
January 10, 2007
I can’t say I like this show. Howie Mandel and the whole pace of the “we’ll progress to the next step— after this break” is annoying as hell. That being said, it’s a brilliant concept.
But I find that people don’t understand the game one bit. There’s one crucial bit of knowledge that has nothing to do with the game, but which every person who is on it focuses on:
WHAT’S IN YOUR CASE DOESN’T MATTER!
All that matters is what’s left on the board and how many cases you have to choose. The offer you’re given is typically slightly lower than the probability of the outcome you would get, so the entire key is what’s on the board. You should never* open the case you initially chose, so what is in that case doesn’t make a difference.
I was watching tonight, as a lady had $1, $50, $400K, $500K, $750K, and $1M on the board. Basically, it’s a dream board. At that point, you take no offer— no matter what it is— until you get down to a situation where you have only have one big number left. This lady got several big offers until she got to the point where the only things left on the board were $1, $50, and $1M, with an offer of $313K. At that point you’re forced to take the offer, because the benefit of $313K is worth forgoing the 33% chance you have of picking the $1M case on the next turn and losing it all.
Mathematically, it’s a simple game. It’s a simple probability question, and if I got a chance to actually be on the show, I’d know exactly how to make the right and wrong decisions. Of course, I’m not prone to insane emotion, so I wouldn’t make for good TV, but I’d be sure to only make the gambles that are likely to pay off.
* It is a rare circumstance where you actually end up getting to the point you choose that final case. If there are two big numbers left on the board, you may end up going down to the final choice as a gamble. I.e. if the two numbers left on the board are $500K and $750K, you’ll probably get an offer somewhere around $610K. In that situation, I’ll make the gamble for $750K even though it could screw me out of $110K. Note that I say it would screw me out of $110K, not out of $250K, because that would be the difference compared to the offer.
January 9, 2007
If there’s any proof in the world that I’m not in charge of the house, I think this is it.
I was thinking about this yesterday. Our elected officials love to use money to help the “less fortunate”. They are either “compassionate conservatives” or “progressive”, both of which believe that rich people’s money should be redistributed to poor people.
So how much hypocrisy can we point out if we suggest that in addition to excluding charitable giving from taxable income, we also offer a 25% tax credit for it?
Think of it this way. Let’s assume that the only deduction allowed by law is for charitable giving, and $100,000 of income is in a 30% tax bracket, while $30,000 income is in a 10% tax bracket.
So the guy with the $100K income, assuming no charitable giving, owes $30K in taxes to the government. If he gives $10K to a charity, his taxable income drops to $90K, making his tax bill $27K. Obviously he hasn’t come out “ahead” on the deal, because he’s given $10K to save $3K in taxes.
The guy with $30K owes $3K in taxes. Likewise, the $30K person decides to tithe 10% to his church, or $3K. In doing so, he saves $300, so his tax bill is $2700 instead. Again, he hasn’t come out ahead, because he’s given $3K to save $300.
However, because the richer person is in a higher tax bracket, he gets a greater tax reduction per dollar donated than a poorer person. He reduced his taxes by 30% per dollar he donates, while the poorer person only reduces his taxes by 10% per dollar. What if we added a 25% tax credit (on top of the exclusion of donations from taxable income), in order to help spur on charitable giving? (Note, I’d make the tax credit only apply until you get to $0 taxes paid, not allow you to get a refund for taxes never paid).
So in the first scenario, the rich person donates $10K and thus reduces his tax burden by $5500. Again, he’s still not coming out ahead, but instead of owing $27K in taxes, he owes $24,500. Essentially, by adding a tax credit, he gets a benefit as if he had donated a little over $19K. So from a tax perspective, it’s like slightly less than doubling his donation.
In the second scenario, though, the person who donates $3K reduces his tax burden by $1050, making his final tax burden $1950 instead of $2700. Again, he hasn’t come out ahead, because he donated $3000 to save $1050. But his $3K donation has the same effect on his tax burden as if he had donated $10,500, making the effect on his tax burden of more than tripling his donation.
To make a change like this encourages charitable giving, while giving lower income people greater tax reduction per dollar donated than higher income people. To elected officials who like to play God with our paychecks, while “helping the poor”, this would make a lot of sense.
If our elected officials really wanted to encourage charitable giving, which many of us outside of Congress would argue is much more effective at helping people than letting government have the money, we could get a lot of people in Congress to sign on to this proposal. However, I doubt it will happen. I think our elected officials believe that all money for good purposes should flow through Congress, and the idea of interrupting their own revenue stream in favor of private charity goes against everything they stand for. After all, they’re more interested in power and control than results, as we’ve seen from pretty much every government program ever designed.
PS – Left up to me, we wouldn’t use tax policy to encourage behavior. It is inherently unfair, and that’s without even getting into the argument over whether taxation is theft or immoral. The purpose of this post is to point out government hypocrisy. It is purely a thought experiment, and is not intended as a policy recommendation.
January 8, 2007
#2 Florida (12-1) @ #1 Ohio State (12-0)
Vegas Says: Ohio State -7.5
Well, my predictions of the bowl games that so far have been pretty weak. I knew I should have picked the LSU/ND game, even though I was traveling that day, because that one was pretty much a lock. ND was (again) overrated, and they got what was coming to them. I hate to say it, but they weren’t a bad football team. Yet they were never as good as advertised.
So with my bad record, I’m going opposite what I originally thought. With a 7.5 point line, I normally would look at two teams like this and say Ohio State would win, but not cover, much the same way they did against Michigan. But I don’t think that’s the case. I’m picking OSU to cover tonight.
Against Michigan, Ohio State had 3 mistakes (two fumbled snaps and an interception), while Michigan has basically no offensive mistakes. That was an oddity in a game of this magnitude that I doubt will be repeated tonight, and even with those mistakes, Ohio State managed to ride Cool Hand Troy to victory.
For Michigan, mistake free, power offense is the name of the game, and they play it to perfection. Florida isn’t quite the same. They’re a big-play offense, and they’re lead by a QB, Chris Leak, who isn’t known for his coolness under pressure. They’re showing up against a defense as good as any they’ve seen all year, and an offense better than they’ve seen all year.
For Ohio State to Cover: Don’t have the mistakes you had against Michigan. You can move the ball and score on this Florida defense. Play a solid game, but if you are -3 in the turnover ratio, all hell may break loose. As Kirk Herbstreit said on ESPN last night, keep Florida in front of you. They can make it happen with the big play, but the more chances you get to force them into 3rd down, the more you force them to earn their points rather than beating you big over the top.
For Florida to beat the spread: Reggie Nelson has to watch Cool Hand Troy, and disrupt his passing game (hopefully getting a couple interceptions in the process). You need to pressure Troy without blitzing too heavily, and even then you can’t expect to sack him. But you need to pressure him into throwing the ball while keeping good coverage. I know, easier said than done. And Chris Leak has to have the game of his career. Chris Leak has all the talent he needs, and can make all the throws. But Florida’s been intercepted 14 times this season, and they need to win the turnover battle to beat the spread.
Prediction: Ohio State covers
Predicted Final Score: OSU 38, Florida 27
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