Monthly Archives: November 2009

Thanksgiving Wrap-up – the good, the bad, and the prison toilet

Another Thanksgiving in the books, and this year there is lots to be thankful for. And not: The flights. Generally ok, though we got caught by Thanksgiving rush/weather craziness over Charlotte, NC (we left on Thurs at dawn, due to insane price-gouging on Wed-Sun airline ticket pricing). Apparently, it was nice up the entire Eastern […]

Moral hazard, via dumb commercials

Another commercial which I’ve always wondered about is this one for Traveler’s insurance: The trouble with the commercial is that the dog, after seeking out ways to protect his most prized possession, finds a solution in purchasing insurance. Keep it on your person? Too hard. Put it in a bank? Too risky. But with insurance, […]

Selfishness, finance, and the 'greatest trade ever'

I just finished reading Gregory Zuckerman’s new book The Greatest Trade Ever: The behind the scenes story of how John Paulson defied Wall Street and made financial history. The story is about how JP, a relatively staid merger expert, became intensely bearish on the housing market in 2004. He took a $2 billion in assets […]

Two models for understanding what people like, which is better?

I have a sort of interesting question, though perhaps it’s less interesting than I imagine it to be. Given the following two scenarios, which is more likely and why? Scenario 1: In the first case, we have a series of attributes attached to a person, and then we can make arguments (empirical, theoretical) about how […]

Transparency and financial prices

I want to talk about dark pools of liquidity, but to do so, I need to first talk about financial markets and how prices work. Bear with me for the background. The dark pools post is coming. Prices in financial markets are not like prices in other kinds of markets. When you buy gas, you […]

Pitch perfect comedy

I don’t always love 30 Rock, but this week’s episode hit exactly the perfect New York spot (apologies in advance for the advertisement): [sorry, hulu just does not play nice embedded] For people who don’t live in NYC, the joke is about Alec Baldwin having bedbugs and finding himself an outcast, finally reduced to asking […]

If you're going to do hip hop at the White House…

Awesome tribute to our first Secretary of the Treasury. Compares favorably to 99 Problems but a Bitch ain’t One: Geek rap is so sexy. h/t James Fallows.

Supernatural collective nouns

The Stoakes-Whibley Natural Index of Supernatural Collective Nouns. I can’t decide if I like better a vexation of zombies or an itself of Yahwehs. Or a percussion of giants. Or a nervousness of AIs. Delightful, delightful, delightful.

If you don't trust the seller, don't buy the product!

First of all, kudos to McClatchy’s news service for running a slew of articles critical of Goldman Sachs during this financial crisis. The firm displays a disastrous combination of connectedness and high prestige on the one hand, and unconscionable financial practices on the other. They are not at all alone, or even the worst, but […]

NBC and Jay Leno

Gabriel had a thoughtful post about Jay Leno, comparing his programming to NPR and classical music over the past couple decades. I’m much more sympathetic to Grant McCracken’s view of Leno as a failure because he misses the contemporary moment’s desire for specificity and instead provides the blandest of something-for-everyone variety. Though McCracken and Rossman […]