It's like Mardi Gras meets the bombing of Dresden...
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Hot Women- Hot Stocks
Within the last week, Charles alerted me to this article, When Hot Women Pick Hot Stocks. While the article mentions former celebrities turned businessmen/stock jocks, the emphasis is on the former Playboy Playmates who, on average, are returning three times as much as money as an indentical amount invested into the S&P 500.

Officially safe-for-work!

The author, Daniel Gross, uses anecdotal evidence such as "Amy McCarthy "was up more than 20%" through Thursday, Jan. 19, "beating every single one of the more than 6,000 mutual funds tracked by Morningstar," to venture that A) Professional Money Managers have no effective edge and B) the market is becoming more efficient. These points are inter-related, so I'll hit them both at once, before explaining the 'Boobs over Brains" phenomenon.

The fuel behind Mr. Gross' fire is the effecient market hypothesis, a theory that states that all available information is instantly reflected in the price of a stock (its fair value), and is the financial equivalent of group intelligence. An elementary analogy is this- If I was to place a random number of jellybeans into a jar and had people guess, the average of all the guesses would eventually approach the correct number (assuming educated guessers) as the number of guessers increased. Basically, each guess on the high or low side would be tempered by an equally inaccurate guess on the opposite side, while guesses close to the number would start to weight the average. While the purpose of this post is not to debunk the EMH (alright, I'll do it twice- Warren Buffett, and the Tech Bubble Collapse), understanding it is crucial to understand the relation between his two points. Basically, in an efficient market, professionals have no edge since all stocks trade at their fair value, and future movement is unpredicatable. I don't want to get too sidetracked, so I'll cut the EMH off there (unless the masses clamor for another post on it) and move on to the Bunny Money.

The fundamental error that Mr. Gross makes is setting up an unreasonable test, most likely because he doesn't understand diversification (read my previous post for a more complete look at where I'm going). By comparing five celebrity picks to the market as a whole, he substantially tilts the odds in favor of the celebrity. Example- Let's say the market moves perfectly sideways for a year, which means basically one stock advances in value equal to the decrease in value of another. By taking the market as a whole (which is what the S&P 500 and mutual funds do), a portfolio is bound to include as many gainers as losers, guaranteeing a return of 0%. Want to do better? Choose less stocks! In an ideal (1 gain =1 loss) static market, choosing 100 stocks instead of 500 gives you 2.58* 10^122 times the chance at coming out ahead. Choose just ten stocks? Almost a ten percent chance of beating the averages! Just one? 50 freaking percent! Can professional knowledge beat a game that rigged? Could you win at blackjack if you had to hit everytime you had less than 20? I doubt it.

Perhaps a better question is to ask- Can Johnny Capitalist beat the average market return/money manager/Playboy bunny? The answer is yes. Here is how to beat all three-

The average long-term market return of 12%- First, understand the concept of value investing. Start with a decent accounting background, then read books by Benjamin Graham, Warren Buffett, Peter Lynch, etc and throw my post on diversification in there somewhere (redundant, but crucial!)... this is my strategy. Does it work? Since October, I've turned $5000 into $6600, for a return of 32%...

The Money Manager- Same as number one. The difference between Johnny Capitalist and Billy Money Manager is this- as the amount of money in the portfolio grows, the harder it is to maintain high returns. Example- I can place all my money on an undervalued equity without changing the asking price... can Warren Buffett do that with the $200 billion Berkshire Hathaway controls? Not so much...

The Playboy Bunny- On the buttocks... with an open hand.
Friday, January 27, 2006
I'm Psyched. Let's Go Kill Some Birds.
I'm heading up to the Outer Banks for the weekend for some duck hunting, some moderate to heavy drinking, golf, gambling, and some general scoping out of a possible job. So I'll be gone for a few.

If we're not done with the previous post(s), then get on that(s), and if we are, then I'm looking for succinct questions along the lines of "Do clones have souls?" or other deep philosophical or ethical matters with which to derail my Intro to Philosophy teacher when I return. Preferably, these questions will have answers that can't be explained in less the twenty minutes. Bonus points will be awarded to those submitting succinct questions that match the above criteria and end up offending half the class. Prizes may be awarded, although their total value will not exceed $15,000.
Thursday, January 26, 2006
Sociobiological Induced Philosophical Conundrum?
Over the last couple of years, I've become increasing aware of the influence sociobiology (evolutionary biology) is starting to exert over practically every scientific discipline covering the development of human formation, behavior, and relationships on both an individual and communal level. I find the general arguments (including the occasional comic gems such as "Female resistance should be favored by natural selection as a way to avoid having a son who is an inept rapist," which leads me to believe that in the next ten years we will witness at least one rape trial where the defendent argues- "I didn't think she was resisting me, I thought she was just testing my suitability as a gene donor, I swear!") compelling and well-founded, although the whole theory just leaves me feeling slightly queasy, like watching food being prepared at a fast food restaurant.

I can't argue against any of it on a scientific basis (which probably leads to my discomfort) but philosophically, I dislike the idea of being reduced to a superorganism of relatively autonomous parts, or having the purpose of my life solely be the passing of my genes (which apparently dictate my behavior much more than I could imagine) through procreation. Regardless of whether or not creationists try to thwart evolutionary programmed genetic code through practices such as NFP (I think I just heard Dennis Miller laugh somewhere on that), sociobiology (specifically books such as "The Sperm Wars" and "The Moral Animal"- anyone else read them?) is definately reshaping the way I view human interactions, especially sexual interactions, and will most likely affect how I interact with others in the future.

In order to break this down a bit further, I'm going to have to establish some background. I can't name the prominent philosophers on this topic (I'm sure Charles can), but I feel that what makes me... me is more than a bunch of carefully ordered molecules, and that my personality/consciousness/essence/soul (I included soul since this dichotomy is usually phrased in terms of soul vs. body by philosophers of note, including Death Cab for Cutie, although for the moment I'm willing to let go of the religious implications of the term) exists outside of firing synapses and frontal lobes contained in my "triune brain".

As a result, I think there is more to human abstractions such as love, courage, and self-sacrifice than just a selfish interest in saving personally disseminated genetic material, or an evolutionary derived propensity for taking risks for the good of the superorganism. Call me a romantic or misguided, but I want to believe that women (more specifically, A woman, of matrimonal quality- also, I'm not including men, since I can't remember any sociobiology attempting to explain fraternal love, and I'm clinging to that as a possible counterpoint) will be attracted to me for greater reasons than my incredible genetic material or my ability to suitably rape her (referencing the lone quote up top), such as personality.

It's getting late, and I don't see this resolving successfully (without at least 13 more paragraphs and a bibliography) towards any of the main points or conclusions I originally intended, so I'll end it, possibly prematurely, to avoid having one comment from Redhurt that says- "Too long! Clanky!" and to open it up. Specifically, I'm interested in the reconciliation of sociobiology to Christian/Biblical views on human formation/sexuality since I don't think that it can be successfully discounted (Hans and Barnabas- I'm not sure where you stand on this, but if you think you can discount it- go for it!), reactions to said books on evolutionary induced sexuality (especially to see if a follow up post focusing on just "The Sperm Wars" is warranted), other interesting books on the subject (especially dissenting ones), general reactions, non-related interesting comments, and/or offers for copulation not fueled by evolutionary concerns. Have at it!

Can I make one more rape joke? Or would that cross the line?
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Bill Simmons Plagarism? Apparently Not...
A few weeks ago, I was watching the USC-Texas game and happened to see that ABC was coming out with two new sitcoms- Emily's Reasons Why Not starring Heather Graham and Jake in Progress. Both looked horrible, so a friend and I put five bucks down on which would get cancelled first. I took Emily's Reasons Why Not.

A couple of days later, I read this at Bill Simmon's site during his running diary of the game.

9:55 -- We should be able to bet on things like "Which will get canceled first, 'Jake In Progress' or 'Emily's Reasons Why Not'?"

I'm excited. I bet on that, plus he frequently posts emails from readers. I decide to email him, explaining that I actually DID make this bet while providing rationale for my choice. This rationale I dubbed- "The Shannon Elizabeth Principle." Basically, the principle is this-

1) Hot, young actress is cast in a role calling for nudity from... a hot, young actress.
2) Nudity is wildly successful, movie is successful.
3) Hot, young actress confuses compelling nudity with compelling acting and uses nudity inspired clout to refuse future roles requiring nudity.
4) Follow-up performances bomb- audiences refuse to see said actresses when nudity is off the table.
5) Actress starts long slide from feature films to tv movies to late night tv shows to washed up celebrity reality shows.

In the case of Shannon Elizabeth, I chronicled her decent here in a post I wrote a few months ago. In the case of Heather Graham, the principle applies. Basically, network tv completely removes the nudity card from the table, destroying any chance for the show's success. It was proved right, I won the bet. I broke the news to my friend in this IM conversation-

JaCkScOlOn65: dan
JaCkScOlOn65: you owe me five bucks
JaCkScOlOn65: emily's reasons why not is cancelled
dwhic 13: dang
dwhic 13: that sucks i really thought i was going to win
dwhic 13: i thought heather graham could attract an audience
JaCkScOlOn65: anyway... you remember when I told you about the Shannon Elizabeth principle, right?
JaCkScOlOn65: basically since Heather Graham couldn't get naked the show wouldn't work?
dwhic 13: yeah
dwhic 13: very true

Then, while burning time before my two oclock class, I ventured over to Bill Simmon's site here for the first time in a couple of days. The teaser for his most recent article- "With another horrendous gambling weekend on the horizon I'm just going to bury my NFL championship weekend picks after a bunch of letters from actual readers. Plus, wouldn't you rather talk about how nudity killed Heather Graham's career? Me, too."

I'm pumped, thinking my actual email is published and that I have an ironclad retort to future ridicule from certain friends- "What? I'm gay? Well, this fag got his email in Bill Simmon's mailbag." Booyah!

I scroll down eagerly, but instead of finding my letter, I find this:

Q: I just heard they cancelled "Emily's Reasons Why Not" after ONE episode! Please tell me this is Heather Graham's final step toward Cinemax soft-core stardom. This needs to happen!
-- Dave Sund, Portland, Ore.

SG: I think it's inevitable at this point -- she's a terrible actress and it's only a matter of time. She's one bad business investment away from accepting a role in one of those two-word Cinemax movies where the two words don't really make sense like "Indecent Seduction" or "Sensual Restriction."

But I'm glad you brought this up, because I think the Shannon Elizabeth Corollary applies here: Any time a smoking-hot actress gets naked early in her career, and that nakedness was pretty much the only reason they became famous (like Graham as Rollergirl), then it's only a matter of time before their career goes in the tank. It's almost like there's an expiration date, like with a carton of milk. Look at Shannon Elizabeth after "American Pie" -- where could she possibly go from there? We've already seen her naked and she's a mediocre actress. What's left? Same with Denise Richards in "Wild Things," or even Rebecca DeMornay in "Risky Business." Someone like Charlize Theron can avoid this fate because she can actually act. But if you can't act? You're done. That's why Jessica Alba was so smart not to get naked in "Into the Blue" -- now she can appear in three or four more movies before everyone realizes that she's a terrible actress. And then she'll get naked and that will be that.

Amazing! Basically, Bill Simmon's reply is almost exactly what I emailed him (only touched up and drawn out), except it doesn't credit me anywhere. Hey Bill Simmons, changing "principle" to "corollary" doesn't make it original. I would have given you the material, I just wanted my name on the website.

Want to help me out? Drop a quick line to Bill Simmons here demanding that credit be given where credit is due, and that maybe sending me a signed copy of his book will restore former goodwill between both parties. I mean, c'mon, blowing small discrepancies way out of proportion is what the internet is all about!

*** Update***

I actually recieved an email back from Bill Simmons (after he read my blog- sweet!) which was completely unexpected. He was offended that I called him a thieving bastard, and apparently, his friend brought the topic up at an earlier Clippers game, and he never actually read my original email due to the incredible volume of mail he gets. Under this new evidence, my post is completely unwarranted and I apologize. Bill Simmons rocks, he is not a thieving bastard, go to his site here, and don't email him to complain.

Monday, January 23, 2006
Opportunity Knocks
This is basically my last semester of attending college full-time, and even though I won't graduate until December, the time has come for me to start looking for a full-time job starting in May. As of right now, I have a few legitimate options.
1) Take my old job back in Florida- For a variety of reasons, ranging from bad pay to my wanderlust, this is the ultimate last resort.
2) Move out to Colorado and crash with the Redhurt for a few months. On a scale of 1 to Kierkegaard, this would totally rock on the personal enjoyment side, although I would have to resist his fervent attempts to convert me from bar soap to the loofah. Jobwise, it gets a little sketchier. I don't have any offers currently on the table, so I have to go through the whole route of calling people who know people, sending resumes, talking on the phone, etc... to obtain a job.

3) Take an assistant pro job up on the Outer Banks here in North Carolina while working on building a golf school with one of my friends from college. Career-wise, this could be a totally sweet move and potentially much, much more lucrative (at least in the short run), although I'm sacrificing substantially on the personal side.

So, what's my move? I'll probably look into the Colorado area seriously for a few months while keeping the Outer Banks on hold to see if I can luck into some freak dream job, in which case I would get the best of both worlds. Regardless of where I end up, the whole thing still weirds me out.

Up until now, everything that I've done has been short term, preparatory, and largely out of my hands. In economic terms, the opportunity cost of decisions has been relatively small and inconsequential. Choose the wrong college/major/cell phone plan? Switch. The wrong internship? It's over in a few months. The wrong toilet paper? Wipe gently. Now, my decisions are much larger in scale, and come on a take-it or leave-it basis. Move to Colorado later? Too late, the baby got your room, come back in twenty years. Move to the Outer Banks later? Sorry, I already have a partner running the school with me. I'll let you know if he leaves.

Plus, I'm clairvoyant enough to realize that I don't want to be in the golf business forever. More specifically, I'm looking to start my own holding/investment company in a few years when I have some more experience and get some capital together. The sooner I get ahead in the golf business, the sooner I can get that capital and get out. Is money more important than relationships? Well... no, but I'm sick of being poor. Where should the line be drawn?

In conclusion- being an adult sucks.
Monday, January 16, 2006
Martin Luther King Jr. Day
It's officially been Martin Luther King Jr. Day here in North Carolina for seventeen minutes now, and in honor, I'm going to post a quick comment from my History 101 class.

Background: In an effort to get out of teaching, the professor is on a small spiel about how memorizing dates, people, and events isn't part of the focus of a history class. In an effort to prove the obscurity of history, he references the Edict of Nantes and asks for a volunteer to explain what it was. I dislike the professor, I dislike the format of his class (I like history, give me an interesting lecture, not some group assignment to do with the mongloids in my class), and I'd been waiting patiently to bust him publically, so finally, all my hours jumping from article to article in Wikipedia paid off (I'd like to thank Hans-Georg for posting something in his blog that I had to look up that eventually led me to it). I raised my hand-

"Didn't that have something to do with lessening the oppression of Protestants in France and helping to end the religious wars?"

Any other professor in any other college would probably be happy to have someone answer a question, unfortunately I'm not there. Recovering quickly, he skips the point he was trying to make meanders back through history towards Martin Luther and then asks for another volunteer to explain who Martin Luther was. I raise my hand, forcing him to call on a girl not paying attention. Her response-

"Wasn't he the civil rights guy?"

Jackpot. He can now proceed on his original tangent, and I can proceed to put my head down and go to sleep. To me, this class may as well be 5-credit, four days a week plus lab Chemistry for Engineers back at the Grove- I don't plan to be awake much for this one either. The only difference is that instead of making valence electron jokes with Redhurt in the back row I'll actually pass.

Anyway, Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day! I'm off to Wilmington in the morning to play some golf and you know, sit back and appreciate how far we've come.

Thursday, January 12, 2006
A Much Needed Update
I really haven't intended to neglect my blog this much, and hopefully soon I'll get back into it, like really back into it, meaning I'll take the time to post clever opinions on world events and idiot entertainment spectacles instead of making this a boring, personal diary type blog. I will, however, blame my absence on two factors- one of which is a genuine concern and the other... well... really isn't. You can guess which is which-

A) The Redness has never came through on the promised template update which would obviously inspire me to create.

B) I've been really freaking busy, which is a huge change and would be a good thing except I spend all my time working on really small, petty issues. It's almost like I'm trapped in some weird TV pilot inspired by Seinfeld and The Office, only not funny.

For example, like every semester at Methodist College, I am forced to take at least a half-hour out of my day consistently to go wait in line at the registrar's office, work on my rant for the day, and tear into some incompetent, low-wage office assistant until they give me what I want. The most frustrating (yet only successful) episode went like this:

Wednesday, January 4th
(Switching to Prose) I pick up my class schedule for the upcoming semester from my golf coach/ academic advisor. As expected, he did not spend the required time looking at what actual requirements I need to graduate in the near future, resulting in a non-sensical assortment of non-necessary classes at inconvenient times. Rather than wait till the following Monday, which is registration day, I attempt to preempt the rush by carefully examining my remaining requirements, a list of available classes, and my other commitments to come up with some sort of workable schedule that fills all my requirements. The only solution involves a couple of night classes (adding another $1200 to my bill) and a plethora of drop-add slips. I fill the required paperwork out and make my way to the registrar's office to turn them in.

"Can I help you?"
"Yeah, I'd like to turn these drop-add slips in so I can be placed in the classes I need for graduation."
"I'm sorry, we can't accept schedule changes right now, if you come back first thing Monday morning we can get them processed for you."
"Are you sure I can't turn them in now? When I come back Monday the classes I need will be filled up and I'll be locked out. I just looked through the most recent class list and all these classes have openings right now. Can't you just put me in them now?"
"I'm sorry, we really aren't changing classes until Monday. Come back first thing and I promise we'll get you in what you need."
"Look at my face! You remember who I am! I'll be back here Monday and this will be fucked up! I guarantee it!"
I storm out and call my coach to tell him that the registrar won't accept my schedule. He is also pissed.

"They won't accept them? That's ridiculous! Give them to me and I'll make sure they get in first thing Monday morning!"

I spend the next four days sitting in a plastic chair for ten hours at a time for PGA checkpoint. PGA checkpoint is a worthless assortment of tests and seminars that attempt to weed out the less-than-committed through attrition. I may have passed, but they still won. I definitely feel dumber for the experience, and my discontent as a golf pro is at a new high.

I wake up Monday morning and call my coach.

"Coach man, what's the word?"
"I got you in all but one of your classes. When I dropped you from symbolic logic and went to switch you into Intro to Philosophy (Yes, these are the classes I need to graduate- Intro to Philosophy, introductory Biology, Music Appreciation, Computer Science 100, History 101, CPR, and two business classes- pathetic) it was filled up. I tried to put you back into Symbolic Logic, but it filled up too. You're going to have to go track down one of the profs and get signed in."

I head back up to the registrar. I'm in luck, the girl from Wednesday is working the desk.

"Do you remember me? I'm back, and my schedule is fucked up EXACTLY like I said it would be. "
"You're going to have to find the head of the Philosophy Department and get him to sign you into the class, that's the only way I can put you in that class."

One serious personality disorder that I have is that after a point I enjoy arguing and being combative instead of being reasonable. This is one of those times. It isn't even about my schedule anymore, I just want to make this an issue.

"I'm not doing anything. I told you this would happen, I tried to be pro-active and get it done ahead of time, and you guys fucked it up. I'm not going to leg it all over campus to track down some prof who might not sign me in. YOU are putting me in that class or I'm just going to go over your head to the dean like last time when you tried to block me out of the computer science challenge test." (Previous record: Justin- 1, Registrar-0. The dean loves me.)

"Hold on, let me go talk to the registrar."

Twenty minutes later I get called back to the office of the head registrar. She's angry and thinks she can intimidate me.

"Listen young man, you can't barge in and yell at my staff like that. You need to follow the policies or I'll see to it that you never graduate!"

I really just don't even care anymore. I hate this college. I want to transfer.

"Look, I went out of my way to make this not a problem. This isn't the first time you've screwed me on something and I'm not jumping through endless hoops anymore. I tried to make this easy because I knew your staff is incompetent. I tried to resolve this before I left last spring, and I came in a week ago because I knew you'd fuck it up. I'll go to the dean, I really don't care anymore."

I hate to just end the story like this, but that was really it. She put me in the class and I left. I walked over to the business office to pay for my night class.

"I need to pay for my night class."

"Actually, it appears you have a $5,700 credit on your account. I'll just take it off that... sign here..."

"No, that's wrong. I don't have a $5,700 credit on my account. Check again."

"I just did. It really looks like you do. I think you're mistaken."

"I'm not, but just leave it. Send me a bill when you figure it out, I'm not arguing with you on this."

"Hold on! Wait! Let me call..."

It's too late, I'm already gone. I got the bill in my mailbox the next day.

I really didn't intend to drag it out that long, but I think writing it helped my cope, so you can just suffer through it. I did. I have more of these unfortunately...
Saturday, January 07, 2006
Google Video
I'd write a paragraph about how sweet Google is, but all of you already now. Besides, the only thing I really care about is posting the link to this!
Sunday, January 01, 2006
A Muffin Type Post
Don't take this as a sign this blog will stop being neglected anytime soon (at least for another week), it's more of a sign that I'm working one more 13-hour holiday shift before I head back to school either tonight or tomorrow. No single unifying theme either, just bullets.
  • I'm sick. Not any kind of grand, exotic illness- just the sick you get after flying 1,400 miles from sunny, warm Florida to fricking cold, butt fuck Northern Michigan and consuming more alcohol in a week than I had the previous eight months. My vacation was basically Rocky IV, with Drago played by my immune system and Rocky represented by a collection of draft beers ranging from Labatt Blue to Miller Lite to this weird, dark Guinness imitation. I mean, you know Drago is going to lose, but the amount of damage they both dish out is staggering. Between Christmas money and the bar I think I broke even. I have this weird head congestion/headache/fatigue/Dengue fever and everything seems kind of surreal to me, like my senses are only turned on halfway. I feel like the guy in Blow after a line of cocaine. "I can't feel my face... I mean, I can touch it... but I can't feel it." I could barely sleep last night as I was fluctuating between being way too hot and shivering cold. Either I had a fever or I'm menopausal, and I'm hoping it's the first so I can still experience the joy of childbirth. Hey-o! I even hit a portal on the way to work, I remember walking out of my house and starting my truck and then- *poof* -I found myself unlocking the shop amidst thin trails of blue smoke. Just kidding, there was no smoke, but I seriously can't remember driving here.
  • I flew back into Orlando on Thursday so I could make it to the company Christmas party to collect my bonus (which, as expected, didn't warrant the trip). The party was decidedly awkward as corporate Christmas parties tend to be, as half the field waited impatiently for the awards ceremony to conclude to make a run on the free booze, and the other half waited impatiently for the first person to leave after the awards finished to make a run for the door. To make matters worse, golf courses tend to feature an incredibly eclectic group of employees. On one hand you've got your chocolately protein powder (quasi-professional golf shop staff, golf pro staff/management) to go with your melty ice cream (southern redneck restaurant and kitchen staff) and cayenne pepper (Latin American outside laborers). It doesn't matter how hard you stir, you'll still get three distinct clumps that resist assimilation even under the influence of cheap alcohol, plus you're like "Why the hell did I put cayenne pepper in my protein shake? It doesn't even speak English!". However, I had a great time quoting both "The Dundees" episode of The Office (You know what they say about a car-wreck where it'’s so awful you can'’t look away? Th[is party is] like a car wreck that you have to stare at because your boss is making you.) and the Christmas party episode (Happy Birthday Jesus, Sorry your party is so lame). Apparently I'm the only person who watches the show which made the whole thing even funnier to me. The unintentional comedy scale stayed fairly high all night, but probably peaked either when our owner forgot my name while handing out bonuses before scrambling to get the sheet and butchering my last name within three minutes of me telling at least ten people that I didn't think she knew who I was, or when our owner's twelve year old daughter attempted to sing karaoke (she was excruciatingly horrible) and everyone put on their "please shoot me now" smile and clapped, or when a certain Puerto Rican waitress and I attempted to slip off back to the secluded pro-shop office only to walk in and find my boss and another employee were about five minutes ahead of us (if you know what I'm saying)- wine was spilled, computers were damaged, and eye contact was avoided by all of the involved parties. To top it all off, one of our older outside cart guys decided to go trolling for hookers in the bad part of town immediately after the party and ended up getting a DUI, luckily today is my last day so I don't have to worry about giving him rides to work. By the way, since the office was busy we ended up using the elevator, so I can go ahead and scratch that off my "Things to do before I die" list.