Sunday, February 17, 2008

Upcoming Posts

If You Smoke at 6:30AM, should Pharma Care? (i.e. Is Healthcare a privilege, or If you don't take care of yourself, why are you bitching about how much healthcare costs you?)

My Cross Country Trip to WSU in 1995

More Electronic Futures and the Upcoming Election

What Part of the Capital Structure is Sub-Prime, and what are CDOs?

You Might Be the Smartest Person in the Room (Asch's Famous Psychology Experiment and it's implications for Financial Markets)

Tenth Dimension

Rob Braynton has been at the forefront of dimensional thinking, and recently wrote a book on the 10th dimension. For those counting, we all know the 3 dimensions, and the 4th being time (or more accurately, "space-time"), but physicists are still trying to work to the higher orders.


Here is a link to a short film about the 10th dimension. It's probably one of the best explanations. If you've ever heard of string theory, or the GUT (Grand Unified Theory), then this will interest you, since after the 10th dimension, you cannot go higher unless string theory begins to marry the mechanical laws we are familiar with, with the quantum mechanical laws that govern the sub-atomic universe.




Finally, there is a website/service called "Stumble Upon"...you put in your interests and this service sends you to web pages on the internet that match your interests. It's how I "stumbled" upon Rob's site, but I highly recommend it...





How to detect if someone is lying

Caption: As you look at the person you are asking the question to
Credit: www.bifaloo.com

We've all been lied to at some point or another, and most of us rely upon our gut or instincts to know this. I've posted several links below that you may find interesting, since they document some key behaviors and tendencies that suggest someone is lying.

For instance, FBI profilers have established that your eyes say a lot. For instance, when you ask someone a question, you can tell if they are trying to "recall" something (being truthful) or "constructing" something (being untruthful) to answer your question. More specifically, with the subject facing you, if the subject looks up to your right, they are trying to recall something. If they look up to your left, the subject is fabricating their story.

If you don't believe me, ask yourself a question, like "what did I eat last week?" and see if you find yourself looking up to the left as you think about what it was you ate. Then ask yourself a question like "if I won the lottery, what would I do?" and see if you find yourself looking up to the right. (If you are asking someone something and suspect them of lying, reverse the directions since the person answering will be facing you, which is what the picture

I am not making this up, it all gets back to how our brains are wired. But ultimately, there are many things you can observe when you ask someone a question to determine if they are being truthful or not. So the next time you ask someone an important question, remember, it's all in the eyes.

Links

Link specific about eyes

Another Link that has pictures


Link 2

Friday, February 15, 2008

"What's in Your Wallet?"

No, I am not pitching for Capital One's credit card...There was an interesting article at Y! Finance (originally listed at Bankrate.com). The article's author was making a case for the fact that the way you organize your wallet can tell you a lot about the way you think about your finances. While there is no scientific evidence to support this author's claims, it's an interesting read nonetheless.

Link to Article about "How you organize the money in your wallet (or purse)"

Sadly, I am a file-folder.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Onion is Hilarious

If you haven't heard of The Onion, you haven't laughed out loud. The Onion is a satirical newspaper that started on the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It is a riot, and if you need a laugh, please go there...

I've posted links to two of my favorite stories that were posted on The Onion...

Links:
The Onion

Antfarm Teaches Children About Toil, Death










All rights reserved by The Onion

48-Hour Internet Outage Plunges Nation Into Productivity

Pro V1 Ball in Jeopardy, and the Rule 35 Ball

Titleist has the #1 market position in golf balls, with it's high-end, ProV1 golf ball. This ball is amazing, and if you play golf, you know what I'm talking about.

The USGA places limits on the diameter of a golf ball. Ultimately, Titleist figured out how make the urethane cover thin enough so that they could make a 3-piece golf ball that flies far but can drop out of the sky and stop. If you can make the outer, polyurethane cover thin, then the core can be larger. If you have a larger core that can now accept more kinetic energy transmitted from a moving golf club to a stationary ball, the ball goes farther. Materials science has invented newer polymers that can accept this energy extremely efficiently and this makes the ball fly farther. The Sullivan patents covered this innovation.

After Titleist launched their ProV1 in October 2000, it raised a lot of eyebrows. But what happened next was a golf ball that took the golfing world by storm, claiming a dominant #1 position in the golf ball market.

The bad news for Titleist is that Callaway has claimed that 8 of the 9 patents that cover the ProV1 are invalid and infringe upon Callaway's patents. Callaway recently won its case against Acushnet (Titlest's operating company, which is a subsidiary of Fortune Brands, ticker: FO). So all of the sales that the ProV1 generated since 2000 are potentially at risk. It's a nightmare for Titleist.

Well the story goes like this: Apparently Callaway launched its Rule 35 ball and pros were playing it in 1998 with much acclaim. Then Bridgestone stepped in and sued Callaway for infringement, and at the heart of the debate was the Sullivan patents around golf ball construction. Callaway ultimately pulled the Rule 35 in 1999, but not before Titleist got some of the Rule 35's and studied them to tweak their own product offering. What came next was the ProV1 from Titleist in 2000. Well, in the ultimate ironic twist, Callaway bought Top-Flite brands in 2003 for $175M, and the Sullivan patents were part of this transaction. So it looks like Callaway might get the last laugh. (In match play, we call this having your opponent "dormie".)

The reason I was so interested in this story is that back in 1998, I used to play Callaway's Rule 35 Red ball. This ball was on the market before the ProV1, and it felt just like the ProV1 does now. I actually hit this ball farther than I've ever hit the ProV1, and I instantly fell in love with it. Then all of a sudden, Callaway stopped selling them, and the only place you could find them was on eBay for a ton of $$.

I hope Callaway can relaunch the Rule 35, because this ball was amazing. Competition is good, it drives innovation. Maybe Titleist will look to move technology forward again. This reminds me of Apple and Microsoft, if you believe Callaway's assertions, which a court in Delaware apparently did.

Links:
Headlines on ESPN

Summary of Case

Redacted Legal Brief

News Flash: Congress Irrelevant, and Initial Thoughts on Stimulus Package

Gotta love the saga that is playing out in Congress. They seem so interested with Roger Clemens and the steroid issue, which is great, I have certainly blogged on this topic. But why is congress involved at this level? They've asked about baseball's problem, and Arlen Specter met with Roger Goodell about Spygate. Great. I'm so glad Congress is concerned with the real problems that face the country. What is a league commisioner for these days anyway, shouldn't they address these problems so that Congress can focus on problems that really impact all of us...

On a separate but related note, the stimulus package is tremendous. I've posted the link to the basics around the plan. So as a country we've spent more than we generate, and our currency continues to fall as the gov't prints more money.* The best part is that the stimulus gets the rebates into the hands of consumers who can keep spending, thereby presumably keeping corporate profits expanding leading to real GDP growth, market appreciation and an avoidance of a recession. Based upon what I've read, I would think that most of the money will go towards debt-servicing, as the consumers try and repair their personal balance sheets, but Congress seems to intend otherwise.

However, probably the best part about the stimulus package is that if you have a kid, you get more money. Great incentives, I've seen these people everyday with 3-4 kids that they obviously can afford. (**Check out this link below, these folks have 8 kids, which is totally responsible, not selfish in any way. Sounds like fertility drugs turned this mother into a dog with a litter, WTF?) With gov't backing, let's keep having more kids we can't afford, and then input them into a system that they will never contribute towards, so they can then hopefully pull out the full entitlement of healthcare that they never pay for. You know why healthcare is so expensive? Because the demographics are exploding, obesity is a national crisis, and there are more people taking out of the system than there are putting into it. If we're lucky, the politicians will reduce the incentive to cure cancer, which is good, because then the population we need to give universal coverage to won't be growing at the other end of the age spectrum either. (BTW, please don't think I'm crying for the drug industry...I think generics are good for the industry, and given the near monopolistic patent protections drugs are given for 5-10 years by the time they get to market, it's more than fair. Generics provide a nice check and balance to this process, because generics force innovation, which last I checked, costs money to develop. I will be posting on this very issue soon.)

Back to the stimulus package, it's a tremendous system with all the incentives in the right place for everyone but those who put into the system. If you feel like the person at the company birthday lunch who orders what they can afford but pays 2 times the amount when the check gets split up, then you know exactly what I'm saying. You may think I'm talking about a sandwich, but if you can't afford a house, or better yet kids, what's the difference?

Gotta love the welfare state...

So if you read between the lines, it all gets back to my title. Congress is irrelavant. They're focused on the little things and when they address the big things, they seem to do no better. (Again, I ask, what is a league commissioner for?) Since's it's an election year, let's just put off the inevitable part of the business cycle at the expense of our long term growth. Maybe if Congress had pressed Greenspan more 4-5 years ago and asked "if we are potentially trading one bubble ("tech") for another ("housing"), aren't we at exactly the same place when it all goes down? (no pun intended) You better believe markets are frothy Alan, how about telling us this when it matters?


* Footnote: Think about it this way; what if the company you work for had sales that were less than its expenses, and to overcome this, it kept borrowing from the bank to fund its crappy operations? What if the bank who made the loan said, "ok here's the money,will give it to you because it sounds like next years sales will be higher than your expenses, but let's make sure your sales are greater than your expenses next year so you can pay the bank back." Well the world (China and Japan) is the US's bank, and we still "sell" less than we "consume", for lack of a better analogy. It's been like this for a while, and the US, and lots of its "assets" are on sale to the rest of the world.

** Footnote: Link to Jon and Kate + Eight...Awesome that cable TV has rewarded this couple's lunacy in its quest to have children.

Link to Stimulus Info on Bloomberg

Link to Stimulus Info at TheStreet.com

Hussman's Take on Stimulus Package
Scroll down to "How much of the stimulus will be saved..." subtitle

Cats Suck...



















The Far Side by Gary Larson, All rights reserved


Here is a post from a creative blog that takes the perspective of a dog and cat. Mr. Bean forwarded to me, but no doubt, another reason why dogs rule and cats, and any dog that resembles a cat (think small poodle, etc.) suck.

Link to Seadra and Zozo's blog post on cats...


Tuesday, February 5, 2008

What's in the Bag?

Erin got me Titleist's new Hybrid club for my birthday. 17 degrees, something to fill the gap between my 3-iron and 3-wood. I've been playing Titlest's 983K driver with a YS-6 in it. It's not like these new drivers, that look like, as Duane puts it, "swinging a damn VW beetle on the end of a stick."

Golf Digest does this article in every issue that documents for readers what clubs a pro plays. As it gets warmer, and closer to the season, I find myself thinking more and more about teeing it up. I'm in the mood to dream, so here is the Feb version of my "dream" issue of Golf Digest...

What's in the Bag
: Jonathan K. Weil

Driver: Titleist 983K, 8.5 deg loft, Graphite Designs YS-6 Shaft
3-Wood: Titleist 975, 13.5 deg loft, Sensicore X100 Shaft
Hybrid: Titleist 983.H, 17 deg loft, Sensicore S300 Shaft
3 Iron - PW: Callaway x-12 Pro Series, 6.0 Rifle Shafts
Gap Wedge: Cleveland CG10, 50 deg loft
Sand Wedge: Cleveland CG10, 55 deg loft
Lob Webge: "Tour" Cleveland Knock-off, 60 deg loft
Putter: Odessey 990 Blade
Ball: Titleist ProV1

Here is a picture of my ball marker from Bucknell and 2 one dollar bills from some dude in Washington State.















Places I've Golfed


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Monday, February 4, 2008

Redemption

Credit: NYTimes
There have recently been two great articles about the rehabilitation efforts people are making with the pitbulls rescued from Michael Vick on CNN.dom and the NYTimes. I am the first to admit I may be a bit biased when it comes to the reputation of pitbulls, but if these articles don't warm your heart, then you have no soul. It goes to show that we are all a victim of the circumstances we live within, but that we can all strive to overcome these circumstances, seek redemption, and find it. I've listed links to both stories that ran.

(Warning: Both articles give graphic details of the alleged abuse these animals endured. If you are a Vick fan, you should read, because you might need to ask yourself some tough questions.)

In the articles I've seen on behavior and motives, pitbulls are no different than people, and ultimately a pitbull's one true fault is that they seek to please their owners like all dogs. So when you hear that one has attacked, just remember, there might be more to the story than a dog acting in a vacuum. Last I read, the tiger that ate that dude in California was being taunted. And the tiger that attacked Sigfried and Roy, well can you really blame it? Setting the tights aside, ask yourself, what would you do if someone was whipping you to jump up on a stool?

Maybe all I'm really trying to say is to just think about it. Sometimes those headlines are nothing more than designed to get clicked because sensationalism combined with a lazy minded public is what increases advertising rates.

Link to CNN Article about Rehabilitated Pitbulls Taken from Mike Vick
http://www.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/wayoflife/01/27/vick.dogs.ap/index.html?iref=newssearch

Link to NY Timews Article http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/02/sports/football/02vickdogs.html?_r=1&scp=3&sq=michael+vick&st=nyt&oref=slogin

Links to Tiger Related Story
http://ktla.trb.com/news/local/ktla-tigerescape,0,949739.story

http://news.aol.com/story/_a/mauling-victim-taunted-tiger-police-say/20080118071709990001