Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Relive the crash with me

I have been day trading for five years, and I've never seen anything like yesterday. The market was down more than 500 points at one time yesterday. It was crazy. The chart here is a one minute chart of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The elipse was the major intraday crash, that happened right around 3PM. That one large red bar, corresponding to the action at 2:59, represents a roughly 180 point plunge. In one minute!

The thoughts running through my head at that time - Shit, I just covered my short positions (I had), and orders are slow. SDOT, the main order routing system we use, had intermittent delays all afternoon. This means that when I sent an order to buy, instead of the usual sub-second turnaround, I had to wait something like 30 seconds. When the market was as active as it was yesterday, 30 seconds is forever. So no, I didn't break the bank yesterday.

One of the most viewed vids on YouTube is 5 minutes on CNBC yesterday. This was on all the televisions in the office, so you can see below what was on all around us. One trader started shouting "Citigroup!" as a 15 million share block trade went off (so he said, I can't see it). Everything fell off a cliff at once, probably as large sell programs hit the markets when as a new low was made. People started standing up. The guy behind me flicked his hands like Ali G. The conversation went like this:

me: you killing 'em?
him: I covered just before this.

In other words, the sell-off was so rare, that he was celebrating a market move that he wasn't involved in. Then the market just gapped down. That NEVER happens.

There is going to be a follow up post, the premise of which is going to say that a LARGE reason that the move happened in the way it did was the recent implementation of Hybrid (i.e. electronic) trading on the NYSE, which has only rolled out in the last few months. I'll also probably edit this post to add drama, but I'm trading currently, and trying to rush this out.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Private Equity Greening

Texas Utilities was taken private in a $45B leveraged buy out. Why do I care? Not because I'm loosely in finance. It's because the new owners are going to shut down 8 of 11 dirty coal plants that were planned. Environmentalists rejoice! Private Equity Heroes!
The unusual decision by the two equity firms to engage in discussions with environmentalists before the deal reflect the change in the investment climate for coal-fired plants, environmentalists said yesterday.

The deal approved last night "sends a pretty powerful message that you cannot embark on a new coal-fired generation plant without doing very extensive due diligence and making sure the risks are manageable," said Dan Bakal , director of electric power programs for Ceres, a Boston-based nonprofit coalition of environmental and investor groups.

Kevin Bacon to Strom Thurmond, in 3 leaps

Kevin Bacon was in Loverboy (2005) with Matt Dillon, who was in Malcom X (1992) with Al Sharpton...
...who is descended from former slaves of Strom Thurmond. Really.

I REALLY hope this brings up a series of "who's related to the slaves of who" factoids.

Thanks Oracle of Bacon

Why I'm Not a Christian

It has nothing to do with Bertrand Russell. I would never say anything like this:
“Every Christian knows that Jesus the son of God and man died and rose again on Easter Sunday,” a New York Archdiocese spokesman, Joseph Zwilling, told The New York Post on Sunday. “No alleged DNA test or Hollywood film is going to change that.”

This is probably widespread already, but I've been under a rock. This fuss over James Cameron's documentary, that supposedly offers DNA and historical evidence that Jesus was mortal, and was married to Mary Magdalene, is going to be a HUGE fight. I'm OK with that.

I'm sure the evidence amounts to nearly nothing. I'm just saying conclusive DNA evidence would persuade me. That guy combined, as things that wouldn't dissuade him from his beliefs, DNA evidence and a Hollywood film. That is crazy.

I'm probably going to watch this stupid documentary. That is, assuming it's on Discovery HD, not just regular Discovery Channel.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

I'd Be The First Non-Puerto-Rican Puerto Rican President

Debra Dickerson was on Colbert a couple weeks ago, primarily because she believes Barack Obama isn't black, because as she put it "'Black,' in our political and social reality, means those descended from West African slaves." This is the kind of semantic argument that is completely meaningless in the real world, but making "black" a meme is perfect for the blogosphere. There are 472 comments, 202 blogs link to Dickerson's "Colorblind" article.

She has a point (and she doesn't seem like a crazy ideologue about this, see the clip below), but it is useless to look at things through such a prism. If Obama isn't black, then is any white person not descended from slave owners not white? Is a Latino not a Latino if after a couple of generations, they lose their fluency in Spanish? We can disaggregate until we're only examining individuals, but breaking up people by race, or gender, religion, political view, or even union-membership is done because generalities, although they are inaccurate, make for lazy, simple ways to analyze information.

My father was born in Puerto Rico. My mom was born in Europe, en route to America, after her parents *left* Poland, being Jews. However culturally, it is hard to argue I am anything other than white. I have white skin, I'm nerdy looking, I'm not fluent in Spanish, and the Latino part of my ethnicity is a non-factor in my life, and the Jewish part is only a very minor one.

But I'd make the distinction between being a multiple-generational White American, and recent (first or second generation) American. Bill O'Reilly seems like a cultural specimen only appropriate for anthropological study, not a real person to me. I have no personal experience ever dealing with people like him. But he is representative of a strong plurality of the country with which I self-identify. I've always felt a stronger affinity to first generation Americans, and Jewish-Americans (gf who is DAR-eligible notwithstanding).

Recently, I've come to believe that my distrust for and estrangement from the O'Reilly types is as much because of political upbringing as my cultural or ethnic one. I'm not a cultural representative, I'm just me, and happily at that.

There was a less popular follow-up article on Salon, "Black vs.'Black'" The article is written by a mixed-race person, half-Japanese, who examines the issue from that perspective. He mentions in the article that he put down white when asked to list his ethnicity on a university form. He calls it a "matter of intellectual honesty."
The truth is, I don't think of myself as either white or Asian. In fact, I don't think of myself in racial terms at all. If asked, I of course identify myself as what I am -- mixed-race, or Eurasian, or half-Japanese. I try to work the Scottish part of the mix in as well, because I like trumpeting my weird mongrel gene pool. But although I know I am a person of mixed race, that fact plays only the most minor role in my sense of myself. I am a mixed-race person, not a "mixed-race person."

Amen to that.

He has thoughts on what being 'white' is though:
I do that not because I see whiteness as a positive identification, or as my identity, but for precisely the opposite reason: because whiteness is the marker of racial invisibility in America. White, in other words, means no race, not the master race.

That I'm not so sure about, but that will be the topic of another post.

Dickerson on Colbert:

Why I'm CEO-esque

For potential employers out there, I want you to know - I also play silly video games on wireless devices, and I'm good at them. So I learned on CNBC today that this was a very senior executive thing to do.. They did a bit about addiction to BrickBreaker, the game included on BlackBerries. This follows the WSJ article.

Not being a BlackBerry person, I'm content to dominate Zuma on my iPod.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Fabulous People and Iraq

One of the many great responses in this New York Observer article, asking people at an exclusive nightclub about Iraq:

I asked her about Iraq.

“A rack? You mean titties? Like a really big rack?”


“Don’t ever waste a moment in life. Fly to the moon and play amongst the stars, be happy, understand how lucky we are—and don’t fight,” she said. “I feel personally connected in one way—I’m a mother, and every day in Iraq somebody is losing their child. My little girl will never go to Iraq. I’m sorry, she’ll go to Prada.”

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

State Senator uses Sullivan County in a POSTIVE Comparison

State Senator Bonacic, a Republican (sorry, member of the Republic Party), in a speech at the Ulster County Chamber of Commerce

On Ulster County economic development: "Business opportunities have come and gone in Ulster County. … There is a malaise here. Even Sullivan (County) has a heartbeat."

Awesome. Sullivan County is definitely going through a minor renaissance, as an artsy getaway. More to come on that.

And on Spitzer...
On Gov. Eliot Spitzer: "At some point, he will have to compromise. (If not) The only thing that can happen is gridlock."

This comes in an article from the upstate paper, the Times Herald Record.

Monday, February 12, 2007

'God, Inc' Is Hysterical

'What department are you in?'
'You mean like seeing Jesus’s face in a tortilla?'
'No, that’s publicity.'

There are 6 episodes. Here is episode 1. Thank you again Video Dog!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

International Catfight! Also: I Only Read Headlines

I had a busy weekend of accomplishing nothing, so I'm just catching up on my Google News World RSS feed. One noticeable trend - only losers call out people from their own country (I'm looking at you Democrats...)

Putin's blasting us while showing off how cool he is in the Middle East, Obama is fighting with the Australian PM, McCain is calling out Europe for Afghanistan, and the US is calling out Iran, again.

Dems want to make a big deal out of pre-war intelligence. Boring! Maneuvering within one's jurisdiction would be interesting before I read my news through RSS Feeds. But, a US General is trying to advise the Indian Air Force which fighter jets to buy. That's more like it!

Of course, RSS feeds don't really make one more knowledgeable, unless one follows a LOT of links. "Pelosi Hungry For Private Jet, Unchecked Power!" would make a great headline, but of course, the story would have no substance. But in small ways, examination of the media is occurring. Frontline is having an examination of the media, for four weeks.

My favorite, of course will be The Wire, which in its fifth season will examine mass media in Baltimore. Quoth David Simon, "The last question we want to ask is this: For four seasons, we have depicted that part of urban America that has been left behind by the economy and by the greater society, and chronicled entrenched problems that have gone without solution for generations now. Why? What is it that we see and sense about these problems? To what are we giving attention, and what is it that we consistently ignore? How do we actually see ourselves?"

Also, Jake commented on media coverage recently.

Note: No one watches Frontline, or The Wire, or reads Jake's blog.

Update: Maybe you can gleam a lot from headlines. From's excellent political blog, War Room:

Here we go again

Consecutive headlines from ABC News' Daily Investigative Report:

"Report Says Pentagon Manipulated Intel"

"Pentagon Says Pre-War Intel Not Illegal"

"Gates: U.S. Can Prove Iran's Iraq Role"


U.S. Says Iran Leadership Arming Iraqis

Australian Leader Criticized by Obama Over Iraq Troop Comment

Putin describes US as 'very dangerous'

McCain criticizes Europe on Afghanistan

US Gen advises India to pick F-16 over F-18

Thursday, February 8, 2007


I think all columnists, bloggers, opinion types should make bets all the time. That way, we can tally how well they do at predicting stuff. So I give Jonah Goldberg all the credit in the world, for offering to bet on the outcome of Iraq. Problem is - he was dead wrong.

Two years ago, he offered to bet Juan Cole that... well, I'll let him explain it:
Anyway, I do think my judgment is superior to his when it comes to the big picture. So, I have an idea: Since he doesn't want to debate anything except his own brilliance, let's make a bet. I predict that Iraq won't have a civil war, that it will have a viable constitution, and that a majority of Iraqis and Americans will, in two years time, agree that the war was worth it. I'll bet $1,000 (which I can hardly spare right now). This way neither of us can hide behind clever word play or CV reading. If there's another reasonable wager Cole wants to offer which would measure our judgment, I'm all ears. Money where your mouth is, doc.

He clearly lost. Here's the response. Kind of sore-loserish, if you ask me.

P.S. - I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is on stuff too.

Pic by powerbooktrance

$12B - Whatever

From the Guardian: How the US sent $12bn in cash to Iraq. And watched it vanish.

Cash distributions from the back of pickup trucks. Paying contractors $2M in cash in duffel bags. Hundreds of thousands just stolen. $500M for "TBD." Most lost to corruption and waste. This is awesome. But no worries - this was Iraqi money.

Money quote (pun intended):
Bremer's financial adviser, retired Admiral David Oliver, is even more direct. The memorandum quotes an interview with the BBC World Service. Asked what had happened to the $8.8bn he replied: "I have no idea. I can't tell you whether or not the money went to the right things or didn't - nor do I actually think it's important."

Q: "But the fact is billions of dollars have disappeared without trace."

Oliver: "Of their money. Billions of dollars of their money, yeah I understand. I'm saying what difference does it make?"

Maybe I Should Work For These People

"Market savvy, socially irresponsible, we don't give a shit." Via Dealscape.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Too funny

From TMZ, via's The Fix:

"We love what you're doing. You're so great for the country! And we'll be sure to vote for you."

-- An older couple on the street mistaking Will Smith for Barack Obama. (TMZ)

And a preview video from Human Giant. Apparently they're getting a show on MTV.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Follow Up - Newsom in Rehab for... Adultery?

So Gavin Newsom is going to rehab. For adultery? Well, no. For alcoholism. Want a headline/link? What about this - "Critics angry, not shocked by Newsom disclosure."

Sound familiar? Hey, if it's good enough for Mark Foley, Mel Gibson, Kate Moss, Isiah Washington (gayhab), Patrick Kennedy, Tara Conner, Michael Richards... I'll stop now. Salon has a great wrap-up. At some point, doesn't this become really transparent?

From here:
"This isn't new. This has been going on since the days of Errol Flynn. It's an attempt to move from villain to victim," said Richard Levick, of Levick Strategic Communications, a Washington crisis-management firm.

Update: YouTube video of Gavin's "meltdown" when asked about alcohol here. SF Chronicle story here. Thanks again, unwitting Video Dog!

Of Course Rock Beats Paper

Uphill Both Ways' video proves this better than the Bud Light Super Bowl ad. I'll let you decide.

And the Bud Light ad...

Haggard's back in the closet!

Rather, he's cured. Read about it on the site No, they don't promote "gay-conversion."

Reminds me of sketch from Mr. Show (LOT of Mr. Show on YouTube, thankfully):

This Is Not My World

I know I'm a trader, but I'm a prop trader, for a small firm. This is not land I occupy. All kinds of pics at the link too.

BS#2: You haven’t seen murder on the dance floor until you’ve seen me on the dance floor. I’ve been break dancing since I was twelve—wait, no eleven—and I kill when I’m out there on that varnished piece of wood. KILL!
BS#1: He’s not blowing smoke up your ass. I know, I’ve seen his moves.
BS#2: You know how I sealed the deal in my Goldman interview? First, I was like, “Lloyd, I’m up to my ass in offers from other banks—Lehman and Merrill to name a few. But Lehman doesn’t have the same prestige and I don’t feel like having to explain myself every time I want to get pawsy with a client at Merrill." And second, I cleared all the chairs out of the way and I got down and I showed the man my moves. My moves, baby! MY MOVES!!! I don’t think I need to tell you, the man was impressed.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Grizzly Bear Man

OK, Video Dog has some good Travis and Jonathan vids, and looking through their site, I found out they did a parody of Grizzly Man.

Need I say more? Enjoy.

Wait, there are counter-insurgency experts?

In my email, I see this headline: "Officers With PhDs Advising War Effort." It talks about the circle of people with military and academic backgrounds, assisting in the counter-insurgency planning. One of the guys, the Aussie anthropologist, and others were talked about at length in a great New Yorker article, which I missed a couple weeks ago.

The WaPo article is an OK rehashing, but the New Yorker article in particular is the only non-miserable, non-repetitive, non-partisan, constructive, slightly optimistic (though admittedly resigned) piece about the Iraq war I've read in a long time. Figured I'd link to them. The gist - that a military effort should be a tiny portion of the GWOT, that we're getting crushed in the media/information/i'd-say-'marketing' side of the war.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Jake and I can take Serena and Conan

Last night devolved into Wii playing, which was a lot of fun. A LOT of tennis was played. Jake and I became dominant players. So when I saw one of the YouTube most viewed vids was Conan O'Brian vs Serena Williams at Wii Tennis, I had to watch. Stupid NBC pulled it off of YouTube though, which is fine, but they don't offer the video among their videos online (I'd link to them, if they had it). So, after searching a lot, I finally found it:

Via: VideoSift

If they pull that, try here.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Bostonians are my favorite stupid people

So Boston was recently freaked out by a guerrilla marketing campaign for the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie, thinking it was terrorism. I know. That is being covered elsewhere, by people more skilled than me. I just wanted to point out, you can buy "I survived 1/31/07" t-shirts.

I wanted to say to Chris, a huge ATHF fan who recently moved to Boston - that must hurt a little.

Update: from an IM with Chris:
honestly Im too embarassed about how the city handled it to talk about it much :)
I was donating blood at mass general hospital when this broke and I was like 'Whats Err doing on the news'

I also wanted to embed this video:

People Love Gavin Newsom

Someone (maybe Colin?) recently told me they thought Gavin Newsom, Mayor of San Fran, was electable on a broader scale than one hippie city, whose name is used to add serious disdain to the already hated word 'liberal'.

He's loved by Streetsblog, and bothers Bush, so he's a winner in my eyes. But dammit, it just came out, he cheated on his wife - with his campaign manager's wife! Talk about a bad boss. Now, while I'm sure no true liberal can start hating Newsom, I'm sure a lot of people will agree with this, from the article:
If it were a matter of Newsom having an affair with a single woman, that would be one thing, but to go behind a trusted aide's back and have an affair with that person's spouse, certainly makes Newsom seem unprincipled," one person wrote. "It's not a matter of sexual prudishness; it's a matter of trustworthiness. Newsom failed this one badly. I supported him until now, but he's lost a lot of my respect.

Update: Admission video - Bill Clinton's lesson was learned by someone.

Google...going down? No.

I apologize in advance. This is a really long post about Google. Move on if that's not your thing.

So, of course Google's not going down, not anytime soon. Still, I'm so committed to various Google services, everything about Google is on my radar.

Currently I use Google Base, Blogger, Bookmarks, Calendar, Co-op (for the custom search engines), Docs and Spreadsheets, Gmail, Notebook, Picasa, Reader, Personalized Search, Talk, Video, Alerts (SO underrated), Desktop, Earth, Finance, Maps, News, Toolbar for Firefox, Mobile Maps, Mobile Gmail, SMS services, Blog Search, Notebook, and occasionally, Trends. Phew - I'd link to the sites for those services, but that would take me all day.

It's been great, and is getting better, as these products get more interwoven (note the Google Reader links, and NYC Food Search on my Blogger blog). So I'm a little sensitive to the "Google is going down" sentiment, I'm smelling the first whiffs of.

It started with a post at the Micro Persuasion blog, titled "Wikipedia is the next Google." The premise being, as Google is taking down Microsoft, Google is ripe for being taken down. While I'm a fan of the Micro Persuasion blog, and Wikipedia, that argument is silly. Just because Google has far it can fall, doesn't mean it will. Wikipedia is a great reference, and I use it all the time, and I find it mostly credible. Still, it is subject to getting hijacked, aka "Wikiality" and speaking of, its content for Stephen Colbert is probably more extensive than for most American Presidents. So while Wikipedia is good for searches on nouns and prevalent topics, you couldn't use it to search for lyrics, such as "I'm as serious as cancer when I say rhythm is a dancer." I'm also Googling stuff to research this blog post, not using Wikipedia.

I came across another post, viewing the "Wikipedia vs Google" battle in terms of open source, vs for-profit. His point - Wikipedia has more useful information about San Francisco than a Google search. From the post:

If I want to learn about San Francisco, I could type 'San Francisco' into Google and see what Google’s computers spew out. I can trudge through the results and hopefully find what I want if I spend enough time.

Well, that really depends on what you're looking for. Wikipedia isn't going to give you information about a restaurant in San Francisco, suggested itineraries, a street corner in San Fran, or any "fat tail" information. If you Google San Francisco, there are links to further refine the search, by topic.

What people are missing is that where Google may be vulnerable is its attempts to take down MS Office. Frankly, I use Google Spreadsheets, and it is crap compared to Excel. Also, I dislike both Word and Google Docs. So when I read about the Zoho Notebook buzz, it seems like this is the only service I've seen that would replace anything I use by Google. More on Zoho to come.

Update: Here is the Zoho Notebook Announcement video, on YouTube.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Not Enough Raf-Looked-Over Content?

OK, There is even more stuff for you to check out now. On the right, I'll have links to stuff I find interesting or funny. Just another way that Google kicks ass, is by providing the functionality, through Google Reader, very easily. Basically, if I tag stuff as I read it, it'll appear on the right. Very simple.

Of course, this is great for my lazy-writing-effectively-re-blogging habit. So be it.

In wholly unrelated news, I created another custom search engine, for teachers, with the help of KS. If you know someone that needs to search for lesson plans, I'm including the link here, because the site is otherwise unlinked-to.

Teachers' CSE

This, of course, follows my NYC Food Custom Search, which is frankly, good stuff. You can search on the right, but here is the link for the homepage: