Snarky Behavior


September 18, 2008 · Leave a Comment

The other day, a friend of mine sent a mass e-mail to a group of guys from college with the subject MY. LIFE. IS. OVER.  He had gone in for an annual check-up with his physician, and had been prescribed Propecia, to preemptively combat male-pattern baldness.

We were all surpisingly sympathetic/supportive (surpisingly so because just a few years ago, we would have collective laughed hysterically.  Funny what three years removed from college will do to you.  This is why driver’s insurance premiums for young men drop precipitously at age 25).

What was more interesting is that we had a few responses (including the one in my mind) that said:  “Wow, you can do that?  Maybe I should schedule an appointment…”

My point here is that my post a few days ago highlighting the importance of Virginia as an electoral battleground, urging my friends there to volunteer a weekend or two to canvass, inspired me to sign up and canvass in my own neighboring state of Pennsylvania (the weekend of October 11th, if anyone would like to join me/carpool).

I know I have friends who read this blog in California.  Go sign up to volunteer in Nevada! Are you in law school at Michigan?  Get your whole class to volunteer! And of course, if you’re in DC, you’ve got to get down to Virginia at least once.

Other people are doing it, and you should too!  I know you are busy, but so are the people who are signing up.  Think about it this way:  if one or two days of your work could make the difference between 4 years of Obama as president and McCain as president, wouldn’t you do that in a heartbeat?

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The Humans are Dead

September 18, 2008 · Leave a Comment

I realize there are probably more interesting/scary market developments going on right now, but I wanted to take a moment to discuss a news story that kind of got brushed aside by Freddie/Fannie/Lehman/Merryl/AIG.

Last week, through a series of errors, a story which was published in 2002 about United Airlines filing for bankruptcy somehow got re-hashed in the “most-viewed” box of the South Florida Sun Sentinel.  Google News, which aggregates top news stories, picked up on the story, and an analyst for Bloomberg News sent the headline around its own news network, which is used exclusively by financial industry professionals.

Within minutes, United Shares crashed. The company lost $1 BILLION dollars in value in a matter of moments.  All on false information, two steps removed.  Presumbably, two mistakes made by two careless idiots led to thousands of investors losing a billion dollars. Let the finger pointing begin:

Tribune said in a statement that its archived bankruptcy article had simply been there online all along. The statement blamed “the inability of Google’s automated search agent ‘Googlebot’ to differentiate between breaking news and frequently viewed stories on the Web sites of its newspapers” for the problem. Tribune also said that a single click on the archived article would have been sufficient to place it on the “most viewed” section because the click came in the middle of the night on a weekend. … “This is what happens when everything goes on autopilot and there are no human controls in place or those controls fail,” said Scott Moore, who as Yahoo’s head of media oversees Yahoo News, the most popular news site on the Web.

Ya think?  Not only did a robot fail to differentiate between breaking/most viewed news, all of the robot traders that are set to dump if a stock passes its 52 week low went on auto-pilot.

You think the traders who bought back the stock once the mistake was realized were happy?  How’s a 100% increase in an hours time sound to you?  Would that be something you might be interested in?

Whenever I hear that “financial instruments are extremely complicated” and that “their is still substantial systemic exposure to risk” I just hear “Wall Street isn’t as smart as it thinks it is” and “we’re all fucked.”

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September 16, 2008 · 1 Comment

The importance of VA

The importance of VA

PLEASE forward this post to anyone you know who lives in the DC/VA area.

People get caught up in the horse-race of a campaign, but we tend to forget (until the last few weeks and days) that it is the so-called “swing states” that determine political outcomes.  Our electoral system is arranged as such that Barack Obama could possibly receive the post popular votes in the history of our country, and LOSE the election because of the composition of electoral votes.

If you go to RealClearPolitics, you can see for yourself:  John McCain has a clear lead in electoral votes for states that are considered “out of play.”  Barring some campaign catastrophe, those states and their votes are done and counted for, leaving only the following “toss-up” states up for grabs:

Obama 207, McCain 227, Toss Ups 104  |  No Toss Ups: Obama 273, McCain 265
Solid Obama     Leaning Obama     Solid McCain     Leaning McCain     Toss Up
State Obama (D) McCain (R) RCP Average RCP Status 2004 2000
Colorado (9) 47.3 46.7 Obama +0.6 Toss Up Bush +4.7 Bush +8.4
Ohio (20) 45.1 47.3 McCain +2.2 Toss Up Bush +2.1 Bush +3.5
Michigan (17) 47.2 45.2 Obama +2.0 Toss Up Kerry +3.4 Gore +5.2
Pennsylvania (21) 47.3 45.7 Obama +1.6 Toss Up Kerry +2.5 Gore +4.2
Virginia (13) 48.0 48.0 Tie Toss Up Bush +8.2 Bush +8.1
Nevada (5) 44.6 45.6 McCain +1.0 Toss Up Bush +2.6 Bush +3.5
New Mexico (5) 47.0 44.7 Obama +2.3 Toss Up Bush +0.7 Gore +0.1
New Hampshire (4) 48.0 44.7 Obama +3.3 Toss Up Kerry +1.3 Bush +1.3
Minnesota (10) 49.0 44.3 Obama +4.7 Toss Up Kerry +3.5 Gore +2.4

Now, if you distribute the votes based on the current margins (which is unwise… that’s why they’re “toss-ups,” after all), you get the map above:  Obama -259, McCain -266… and 13 votes remaining.

If you’re bad at math, I’ll save you the suspense… they’d put Obama over the top.  Without them, he loses.

And where do those 13 votes come from?  Well, from the state of lovers, of course!  Virginia!

Currently Virginia is a dead-heat.  That means EVERY SINGLE VOTE IS IN PLAY.

IF YOU CARE ABOUT THE NEXT FOUR YEARS, IT IS YOUR CIVIC DUTY TO GET OUT THE VOTE.  You may have never canvassed before, but now is a great time to start.  It’s much less painless, and far more rewarding, than you might assume.  And research shows that door-to-door canvassing is by far the gold standard in Get Out the Vote efforts.

There are 50 days left in this election.  PLEASE make time in the next few weekends to go door to door in Virginia.  Sign-up to canvass here.

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Question for Those in DC

September 16, 2008 · 7 Comments

We all know somebody who works in government who is probably vastly under-qualified for what they do.  Or we’ve at least met someone who works in government for some obscure program, in which you respond “wait… that’s tax-payer funded???

My question is:  does that make you less inclined to support government in theory and/or in practice?  Or does it come with the territory, as in you have a “can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater” mentality about it (i.e. you take the good, you take the bad, you take them both, and there you have… the facts of life)?

I had always assumed that people became Republican as they got older because their wealth increased, but now I’m starting to question that premise.  I mean, if I knew a schmuck who got hired at a relatively high level for a publicly traded company, I could short the stock or at least avoid buying it.  But what can you do when that happens in government?

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The Bias of the AP

September 12, 2008 · 2 Comments

So the event I attended last night basically got zero media attention, first because it was on MTV, but second because apparently Sarah Palin was busy flubbing about what the Bush Doctrine means.

But of the media coverage… on an event that was split 50/50 in terms of time allotted to the candiate, THIS is the official story from the Associated Press.

A brief content analysis shows that McCain’s name is mentioned 9 times, and he gets the photo, the lead, the close, and shares the headline.

Obama’s name is mentioned 4 times, and his views at the event are not discussed until the final two paragraphs (and McCain still gets the close on them!)

Now, it may seem most newsworthy that McCain, also a Republican, would be critical of Bush for not asking his country to serve.  But goddamnit, Obama holds the same criticism of Bush!

It’s just one article, but it’s the Associated Press, and it’s by-lined by two reporters.  Presumably they watched the first hour when McCain spoke, then went and caught drinks.  Because this is not objective or balanced reporting.

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Seven Years Later, a Service Mandate

September 12, 2008 · Leave a Comment

A long day… my article is up at the Huffington Post though, so check it out if you get a chance.

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A Plug

September 12, 2008 · Leave a Comment

In exchange for the free lunch:


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John McCain

September 12, 2008 · Leave a Comment

really whistles when he talks.  I was thinking, if I didn’t understand English, it would sound like a pretty harsh language coming out of his mouth.  Maybe the mic accentuates it, but it’s really pretty amazing.

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I Now Understand

September 11, 2008 · 1 Comment

the impulse to live blog these things.  There’s a lot of down time.

There’s also free lunch!!!  Turkey and cheese, with browie, pretzel and apple.  Needless to say, every member of the media grabbed one.  People like free stuff, esp. food.

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Almost Famous

September 11, 2008 · Leave a Comment

I’m in the media holding room at the ServiceNation Summit, where Obama and McCain will speak tonight.  I got a press pass through the Huffington Post, and two people have approached me with “you look familiar… should I recognize you?” 

It’s soul-crushing to say no, but I think the beard and glasses make me look like a real serious internet star.

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