Thursday, August 31, 2006

College Football Season Starts Today!

Boston College vs. Central Michigan... one for the ages.

I'm just so excited for college football I don't even care who's playing. Trojans Razorbacks in 47 hours.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Blogger Functionality

I was trying to use the "e-mail post" feature of Blogger, which would be tres cool, because I am tres lazy. Too lazy even to punctuate this sentence

Unfortunately it won't autopublish, and I think it has something to do with Word Verification. Turns out that Blogger thinks that I am running a spam blog, so they make me do a "captcha" before I can publish a post. I've requested that they have a human review the blog, and if I'm able to convince them that I, too, am human (I think, therefore, I should am, right?), then that should fix the captcha which should fix the email posting, which means that I should be able to post without thinking (at which point, I may cease to am - I'm not clear on whether past thinking qualifies).

And in case you're interested, this is the word that will prove I am human: pjubmnub. Try using that in a sentence, spammer scum.

Miles Per Dollar

Some enterprising person has put together a very simple Miles Per Dollar calculator. Nothing earth shattering, but it can be a good idea to think about gas in this way. I can think of a few reasons to make the calculation:

  • total cost of owning a new car. What's the MPG? Does it use regular or premium? If you want to be clever, you can factor in the price of the car and how many miles you expect it to drive it, minus the residual value.

  • deciding whether it makes sense to drive or take some other form of transportation. My car takes 92 Octane, which costs about $3.40 per gallon. My car gets about 18 miles per gallon, so I get about 5.29 miles per dollar. Cost of a 120 mile one-way trip to San Diego: $23. Cost of taking the train: $32. Of course, driving depreciates my car, and taking the train uses a bit more of my time, depending on when I go.

Monday, August 28, 2006

What You Can't Say

It's an old article, but a good one. I just stumbled across this treatise from Paul Graham entitled "What You Can't Say" that tries to answer this question: If we think that a lot of the stuff people accepted as "right" 50 years ago is stupid and wrongheaded, what do we think now that people in the future will similiarly scoff at? It delves into the changing nature of taboos.

Certainly the fact that they value open-mindedness is no guarantee. Who thinks they're not open-minded? Our hypothetical prim miss from the suburbs thinks she's open-minded. Hasn't she been taught to be? Ask anyone, and they'll say the same thing: they're pretty open-minded, though they draw the line at things that are really wrong. (Some tribes may avoid "wrong" as judgemental, and may instead use a more neutral sounding euphemism like "negative" or "destructive".)

When people are bad at math, they know it, because they get the wrong answers on tests. But when people are bad at open-mindedness they don't know it. In fact they tend to think the opposite. Remember, it's the nature of fashion to be invisible. It wouldn't work otherwise. Fashion doesn't seem like fashion to someone in the grip of it. It just seems like the right thing to do. It's only by looking from a distance that we see oscillations in people's idea of the right thing to do, and can identify them as fashions.
Long, and well worth the read.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Pioneers of Professional Blogging

There's an article in this month's Business 2.0 called "Blogging For Dollars", that mentions several popular sites like Tech Crunch and BoingBoing. BoingBoing, according to the article, is making about a million bucks per year in ad revenue. Doesn't sound like much, but it's just four people, and they all have other jobs and stuff. Not bad at all. The biggest surprise though has got to be, which is apparently pulling down hundreds of thousands of dollars per month, despite a lack of original content.

The conventional wisdom is that successful blogs pic a very specific area (like camcorders) and focus on it with great energy. But sites like BoingBoing, Fark, and certainly don't fit that mold.

V has finally started a blog that looks to turn into a wedding blog, so we'll see how that goes. I, meanwhile, am way too scattered to focus on a particular area.

Monday, August 21, 2006

California foreclosures up 67% in Q2

The latest quarterly results are in, and California foreclosures are up 67% from the last quarter. That actually deserves some (!!!). Phoenix and Las Vegas were hard hit too, mostly due to speculators learning what "speculation" means. As in they got the cold end of the speculum.

Oh, that's so wrong. Sorry.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The origins of defenestration

"Defenestrate" - to throw someone or something out a window - seems to be one of everyone's favorite words. It's simultaneously simple in its directness, and a bit sesquipedalian. The etymology isn't exactly a mystery. It's the simple combination of a latin prefix with a latin noun. But why did this word attain common English usage? You could create other words in this fashion just as easily. How about detabernated - to be have been forcibly ejected from a bar? But nobody, alas, uses that word.

It seems that defenestrate hit the English scene around 1618, when two imperial commissioners were thrown from a window of the palace in Prague, having been found guilty of violating religious rights. The event was dubbed the Defenestration of Prague, and instigated the Thirty Years War. The universal pleasure of appropriately using "defenestrate" in a sentence has ensured its permanent place in the English vocabulary.

In a mostly unrelated feat, I'll now use three of my favorite big words in one sentence.

Despite her avoirdupois, or perhaps because of it, the callipygian singer cum actress was widely considered to be pulchritudinous.

And if I had been able to find a way to get "lagniappe" (free with purchase) into that sentence, you can bet your finely developed buttocks I would have.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Snakes on a Freakin Plane

SoaP came out yesterday. The early reviews have been very positive, the opening nights I've heard about sounded like a blast. And I'm stuck in the Philippines.

I seriously am not sure I can wait, but I promised the V-Train I'd wait for her.

The image to the right links to someone else's CafePress shop. I thought it was only fair to link it since I stole their image.

Rents Going Up, Finally

According to the New York Times, after a long lull rents have increased 3.5% to 5% in the last year. This is very significant, because the home price to rents ratio has been out of whack for a while. Rent and mortage are two different ways of paying for something very similiar: a place to live. Rents and home prices, in the long run, maintain something that approximates a consistent ratio. This is affected by things like mortgage rates, but at the end of the day the two must come into alignment.

In recent years, it has been much cheaper to rent than to own, indicating that people are speculating on future rising home prices. That the two must come back into alignment means that there either needs to be a housing price crash, a huge increase in rents or, more likely, some combination of the two.

A major increase in rents without a decline in housing prices would mean that real factors have conspired to make living space actually worth more. While that's certainly possible, any time that there's speculation (as there clearly has been) it's a pretty clear indicator that something is being overvalued.

The rise in rents is actually good news if you're a homeowner, because any rise in rents will reduce the amount of a potential housing crash. And it may make you feel better, because you're not overpaying quite as much for your living space.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Idiot's guide to sleeping

My hotel has one of those automated "wake-up call" systems. You just punch the time you want to wake up in military time into the phone. Let's see, I've got 5 hours to sleep so I should wake up at 10:00PM. Punch two-oh-oh-oh.

Wake up, drink coffee, shower, get dressed. Oh. Damn.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Review: Talladega Nights

Talladega nights is one of those movies that you pretty much know in advance whether you are going to enjoy it or not. Did you like Old School? Then you're going to like this one. I don't want to say too much else about it except that
- 1) this movie has inspired me to get a Nacho Cheese fountain for my wedding and
- 2) this movie has given me hope that people will rise up and demand a Manimal DVD.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Foreclosures May Be Less of an Opportunity Than You Think

I'm very interested in foreclosures, because there aren't any other good real estate deals out there right now what with the imminent collapse of the housing market. But this article points out that even with foreclosures up, the deals may not be out there. Banks are wising up to the fact that they're losing potential profits the way they've been handling foreclosures, and they're quickly shutting the arbitrage opportunities.

"Foreclosures sound good in theory, but now the banks have really gotten smart and they have realized they can get market value for their homes"

On top of that, the professional vultures are snapping up any good deals that are available. So I plan to keep watching this market, but I'm not as optimistic as I was a few months ago.

AOL Update: Announcement Tomorrow

I posted earlier about AOL's potential move to a completely ad-supported model, basically sacrificing their billion dollars in subscriber revenue to create a long-term competitor to with free e-mail, IM, VOIP, video content, etc. The Time Warner board will announce their new strategy tomorrow.

I don't see any alternatives for them. The ISP model is dying a slow, painful deat for them.