Thursday, February 28, 2008

Follow-up on Dumb and Dumber

Follow up to my post on Feb 20th, "Are We Getting Dumber?"

New research from a recent survery of 12,000 17 year-olds would indicate that we are getting dumber as a society, at least when it comes to history and literature.

Not sure how to remedy this, because I don't think children will be increasing the amount of time they spend reading any time soon. Teachers are trying, and parents can try to step it up more, but I think it may be hard to convince the new generation that history and literature are worthwhile to learn, when they could go play Guitar Hero for hours on their PS3.

Speaking of dumb, check out this link to a "stupid criminal" tidbit that Jay Leno likes to run on his "Headlines" segments on Monday nights.

Meet RX-6723P, Man's Best Friend

I can't believe this study, but it seems to be legitimate. Researchers at St. Louis University found that robotic dogs are just as comforting and pleasing to humans as real live dogs.

Are you telling me a bionic dog is as warm and loveable as this cute little guy?

It doesn't really make sense to me. But, it does remind me of one of my favorite TV shows of all time. Yes, that's right, the "Six Million Dollar Man" (the original bionic man).

Here's a little clip from Youtube of the very exciting opening to the show.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

8-Track, Vinyl Records, Cassette tapes, Beta-max, VHS

Remember 8-tracks, cassette tapes, VHS, and Beta-max? They are all gone of the way of dinosaurs (the first four) or on the way out (VHS). They all were replaced by better means of recording music and video.

Well, you know what else may be on the way out? CDs and DVDs. Not necessarily because there is a "hard-copy" replacement for them (well, Blue-ray will soon replace DVDs), but because we can get so much on-line on the internet or directly through our TVs (on-demand programming).

To wit, check out this article from the LA Times. Nearly half of teenagers (48%) bought ZERO CDs in 2007 (up from 38% in 2006). 29 Million people bought music legally on-line. Why buy CDs when you can cram thousands of songs onto Apple's wonderful iPOD or iPhone.

As for movies, the same can be said...there is less and less of a need to buy DVDs. Personally, I haven't been to Blockbuster in months. There is little need to go there. There are so many movies on Comcast on-demand and on websites, such as this one that follows, that has all of the recent releases on-line: Some of the movies are filmed by a camcorder, but others are DVD quality. Look around and enjoy. I recently watched Juno and Michael Clayton on there...both very good movies. Also, Apple's i-Tunes allows you to download movies in DVD quality to your computer for either $2.99 or $3.99.

As an investor, I would not be being stock in Blockbuster or Netflix.


Ugghhh...Michael Bloomberg decided he is NOT going to run for president. I was really hoping for a viable third party candidate to make this an even more memorable presidential race (and I also think he would've made a good president).

The good news? Read his editorial in the NY Times...he says he will do all he can to support the candidate that will take an independent, nonpartisan approach and takes stances that challenge typical party orthodoxy. That means LOTS of money for this candidate...who will it be????

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Jack Welch for President

I had CNBC on the TV this morning while getting ready for work (a morning ritual), and heard Jack Welch (one of the greatest businessmen of all time) give his thoughts on immigration. He makes so much rational sense. It is ashame none of the politicians have the guts to talk about immigration this way. It really is a solid plan. I think it resembles McCain's original plan, but, as per usual, McCain has had to alter his plan to sound more tough and conservative.

Watch this video...

Also, a new study demonstrates that illegal immigrants actually commit FEWER crimes than U.S. born citizens. Probably because the illegals are too busy working, doing the jobs that many Americans don't want to do.

Sinking Ship

Many always make fun of Bush and Guiliani (appropriately so) for confusing and justifying the invasion with Iraq with al-Qaida's devastating attack of New York on 9/11.

Well, look what Bill "Bubba" Clinton is saying out on the campaign trail for Hillary...the EXACT same thing. Shame on you Bill. You should know better. Hillary has been VERY hawkish on the war in Iraq until about 9 months ago. Since then, she has slithered over to the left by calling for withdrawal. I'm not sure why she has been able to accomplish this without more criticism. But, for the Olbermann from "Countdown" and Howard Fineman from Newsweek may not let her get away with this anymore.

Watch the video:

McCain is Fair

If you haven't seen what happened in Cincinnati today, please watch this video and read the article.

Here's the scoop. McCain was holding a campaign rally. Prior to his arrival, a few repubs were warming up the crowd. One of them was local conservative radio host, Bill Cunningham. He repeatedly bashed Obama and kept referring to his by using middle name (Hussein).

McCain profusely apologized afterwards. It is refreshing to see that he is not stooping to low levels as to try to conflate Barack Obama and the evil, and now dead, former dictator from Iraq.

Monday, February 25, 2008


Remember when Jerry Seinfeld would run into his nemisis Newman he would scoff and mumble under his breath, "Newman!" in disgust? (see this video if you don't remember).

Well, democrats are going to be saying "Nader" in the same tone with the same disgust.

That's right, Ralph "I cost Al Gore the Election in 2000" Nader, is running for president AGAIN (as an independent candidate). He announced it on his appearance on Meet the Press yesterday. You've got to admit, the man stands for principles, and does NOT pander. He has a point on a lot of his main issues.

However, he could tip the general election to the republicans again in 2008. Right now, McCain has a slight, but statistically insignificant lead in polls that hypothetically match him up either against Hillary or Obama.

If Nader steps in and gets 1-2% of the vote (most of which will come from the left), he will certainly help John McCain escape with a win for the presidency.

Bye Bye Jarvik

Remember my blog post on the Pfizer ad for lipitor featuring Robert Jarvik?
Pfizer is pulling the ad because of the fact that he is not a practicing physician (and remember, he's not a athlete or rower either).


A few tidbits from the Oscars:

1. Jon Stewart (who I love and generally think is hilarious) was quite dull and uninspired. Not sure if the short time after the conclusion of the writer's strike played a roll, but he just wasn't that funny. He is 10x funnier on the Daily Show.

2. First time since 1965 that all four best actor Oscars (Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress) have gone to 4 non-Americans. I am very glad that the Spaniard Javier Bardem won Best Supporting...he was fantastic in "No Country for Old Men".

3. Joel and Ethan Coen- we knew they were weird, but not very memorable speeches.

4. Best Dressed- Marion Cotillard (winner for Best Supporting actress), Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, and Salma Hayek were looking great. (Oh, wait, Salma wasn't there, but I'm sure she looked great sitting at home!).

5. Worst Dressed- Ellen Page (bad dress, bad walk), and Tilda Swinton (not necessarily her dress, but her hair and face).

6. Most inappropriate- Gary Busey...he's nuts. Check out this video of him on the red carpet.

7. Answer to Trivia Question- I'm disappointed in the lack of guesses for the trivia question. The answer is John Cazale ("Fredo" from Best Picture winners Godfather I and II). He also was in "Dog Day Afternoon" (best picture nominee), "The Conversation" (nominee), and the classic film "The Deerhunter" (Best Picture 1978).

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Academy Awards

The Oscars are on tomorrow night.

I would do an Oscar prediction piece, but I haven't seen all of the Best Picture nominees. From the ones that I have seen, I would say "No Country for Old Men" has the best shot. You are certainly welcome to write down your predictions in the comments section of this link.

While we are the topic of the Oscars, I have a little trivia question.

Can you name the actor who appeared in only 5 movies in his entire career (as a prominent supporting actor in all 5), and every single one of these movies was a nominee for "Best Picture"? (3 of the 5 actually won the award for Best Picture). Note: His career was cut short due to death from bone cancer.

Can you imaginge that? Five for five. What a short and brilliant career. Post your guesses in the comments section. I will tell you the right answer tomorrow.

Friday, February 22, 2008


1. Prayers for coffee- I can't really understand why the owners would use this as their business model, but a parish-run cafe allows people to "pay" for their coffee by saying a prayer aloud. I understand they want people to be religious, but I don't think bribery should be used to make people more you? How can a quick recitiation of the Lord's Prayer while waiting to drink your steaming hot coffee be honest and sincere prayer? I think the owners are kidding themselves.

2. Get your ZZZZZZZs- a new study from Finland finds that people who sleep less, on average, are more likely to die (studied via 15 years of follow-up).

3. Smartest TV shows- Mensa has released its list of the 10 smartest TV shows of all time. I agree with most of the choices...check out the list and see if you agree. The two choices I would have to disagree with are "Boston Legal" and "House". Boston Legal was very weird and, as for House, the show is just so wrong medically, that I can't include it on the list. Dr. House routinely orders tests and performs procedures on patients that are completely outlandish. Much more realistic medical shows were "Chicago Hope" and even "ER" (most of the time).

Two shows that should be on the list are "Seinfeld" and the "Simpsons". Both shows had amazing writing that exploited the absurdity of everyday human life in a way few other shows did. Both shows had references to current events, pop culture, or human psychology that required one to be current and knowledgeable to understand the joke.,2933,331175,00.html

4. Memory like an elephant- Read this story about this man who has amazing memory. He must have the opposite gene of Alberto "I don't recall" Gonzales.

5. Indecent exposure- "Is that a paint brush in your pocket or are you happy to see me"- check out this artist who uses a 'strange' tool as his brush.;_ylt=ApHQSSj_1pbcF89URZOUQmgDW7oF

6. Say "chesse" Roger!- evidence, perjury, jail. The gig is up Mr. Clemens.

7. Photo- wondering what the photo was? That's right...cooked dog paws, a Chinese delicacy. That's disgusting and cruel.;_ylt=AmFX_MuLXzDB890PG3t1ph8DW7oF

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Best Blog on the Net

My blog? No, not by a long shot.

The best blog on the internet is called "Stuff White People Like". It is so insightful and hilarious.

Don't spend too much time over there....come back to this blog soon, but this blog is a GREAT blog....check it out:

Funny ones:

#67 Standing still at concerts
#62 Knowing what's best for poor people
#59 Natural medicine
#54 Kitchen gadgets
#51 Living by the water
#50 Irony
#45 Asian fusion food

Who am I kidding...I'm going to stop listing these because they are all very funny. Read it and laugh. I'm including the link permanently on this site so you can keep abreast of the latest favs of white people.

Are We Getting Dumber?

Came across this article in the NY Times the other day, and it reminded me of a topic that I often think about.

Are we getting dumber (as a society)? And, if we are getting dumber, is it because of technology?

It sounds ridiculous at first, because we collectively know so much more about the world, about science, about medicine, about outer space because of all the tech advances in the past half century. But, are people (and most importantly children) smarter now then 50 years ago? For example, Google allows us to have so much information at our fingertips, but doesn't that ability obviate the need to learn things and retain the knowledge? In the past, people had to read books and encyclopedias to keep up on topics. People who read more and remembered more were called "smart". However, now, we are always two clicks away from finding info on the number one export of Kazakhstan, so, why bother learning about culture, geography, history, etc? (BTW, from what I remember from Borat's movie, Kazakhstan was the number one exporter of potassium, my favorite cation).

As another example, the current medical residents rely heavily upon their palm pilots or the web program "Uptodate" at the multitude of computers around the hospital. The incentive to learn and committ things to memory and understand them has largely vanished because of the complete ease of information that can be obtained via the internet. Finally, you must admit that the proliferation of the super high-definition video games provides a huge distraction for children for learning and doing homework.

Other questions to ponder:
1. Are children in the near future going to have terrible handwriting because they type so much and barely write?
2. In 10 years, we will ever need to rent a movie from Blockbuster or Netflix (won't they all be online)?
3. How much are kids cheating in school via smart phones or even text-messaging each other during exams?
4. How much are kids plagiarizing papers off of the internet?

All of this brings me to my FAVORITE Youtube video of the past year...Miss Teen South Carolina. I'm sure all of you have seen it, but please watch it again for a good laugh. And then cry, because this may be representative of the knowledge level of the next generation (and because she ended up coming in third in the contest despite her pathetic answer).

(This interpretation of her comment from Jimmy Kimmel is so funny).

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

That's Why They Call it "Hardball"

Huge win for Obama tonight in the Wisconsin primary. He gave another good speech as well. There is no doubt he inspires when he speaks. However, many of us are concerned about the actual 'substance' of his campaign.

Watch this amazing exchange between Chris Matthews and Texas State Sen. Kirk Watson. Watson came on MSNBC as an Obama supporter, but watch what happens when Matthews asked him to name one significant legislative accomplishment that Obama has had. Mr. Watson was absolutely dumb-founded. Matthews asked him again, and still the man had no answer.

At the end, Olbermann had the best quip, when he asked Matthews, "Can you name one significant accomplisment by the US Senate in the last 7 years?"

Sorry for the quality of the video...I video taped my TV screen with my camera.

Medical Updates

1. This is no surprise...outcomes after in-hospital cardiac arrest are worse if it occurs at night or on weekends. It makes complete sense....there are fewer staff on duty, the doctors have sluggish and sleepy minds, and patients are checked on less often so that they can be allowed some sleep.

2. This is an unbelievable story about a man who cut off his own arm to save his life as he got his hand stuck in a corn-shucker.

3. Stop wasting your money- Glucosamine doesn't work...

Stewart Rips Clemens

I know this is about a week old, but I was watching the video of Jon Stewart 'reporting' on the Clemens hearing, and it is absolutely hilarious TV. The bit about Clemens repeated licking his lips is right was like he had BBQ sauce on his lips. He couldn't stop with the licking because he was so nervous. Also, very funny is the bit on the differences in the tone of questioning by the Repubs and Dems.

Check it out...

Adios, Fidel

Breaking news out of Cuba. Fidel Castro is stepping down as President. That's right, stepping down. I think most of us expected the only way he would no longer be president was if he left the office 'horizontially'. This COULD be great news. The problem is that his brother, Raul, is taking over. And, for what its worth, Fidel will remain as the leader of the Communist Party in Cuba, so he may still have significant influence.

This would be an opportunity to try to resume talks with Cuba. Maybe Raul will be more amenable to change. Maybe the embargo with Cuba can end one day soon. We will see...

Monday, February 18, 2008

"Extra, Extra, Read All About It!"

"Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated." (Mark Twain)

Sorry for the delay folks.

Lots of news around the US and the world to comment on today.


1. Obamamania- Hillary leads Obama 49-43% in the Wisconsin poll (primary is tomorrow). Note, Wisconsin allows same day registration, so the poll may be unpredictable. Remember, Wisconsin sits next to the state (Minnesota) that also has same day voter registration...a state that elected none other than "Jesse the Body" Ventura as their governor a few years back.

Also, the latest CNN Poll has Obama and Hillary neck-in-neck in Texas (50-48%). It's going to be a very interesting primary.

2. Good Ol' Boy- George HW Bush officially endorsed John McCain today and took a jab at the right wing media that has been denigrating Mr. McCain.

Speaking of that topic, one that I have touched on a few times previously in this blog, there are many recent articles about the battle between McCain and the right-wing conservatives.

3. Bite your tongue- Fareed Zacharia (who has written one of my favorite books of all time, "Future of Freedom"), has a very interesting piece in Newsweek about the "End of Conservatism". A lot of the readers of this blog will not be happy with that title or premise, but read the piece, it is excellent.

Health Care:

1. Doctors, wash your hands- This has been a long-time coming. Starting in October, Medicare will no longer re-imburse hospitals for preventable errors and "iatrogenic" complications. This is a great free-market move to get hospitals to improve quality of care. Why should hospitals make MORE money when someone gets an infection while in the hospital? Or, get reimbursed for complications from surgery, such as forgetting to remove sponges from the body cavity or if the patient gets bed sores? It is estimated that this new policy will save the government about $190 million over 5 years.

2. Dirty lemons- Those yummy lemon wedges you get with your drink at the restaurant are loaded with bacteria, including fecal bacteria. Watch this video for the full story. Kind of gross, but the good thing to remember is that despite the bacteria, it doesn't seem that these lemon wedges have caused significant disease.

(make sure to include both == after the URL...I've never seen that before, but it brings you to the video)

3. Where's the beef?- Remember that video I posted about the cows being treated poorly? ( Well, it turns out that it was that video that was the impetus behind the recall of 143 million pounds of beef.

4. Health care fraud- more dispicable behavior by the insurance companies. Check this out...who got screwed? The patients, of course. We need to change this system.

5. Deadly drug- A drug to stop bleeding after cardiac surgery, called Trasylol, has been removed from the market by the FDA. The drug increased the risk of kidney failure and death after surgery. Interestingly, it was the most commonly used drug to stop bleeding after cardiac surgery, even though 2 drugs that are much cheaper are just as effective and do not increase the risk of kidney failure or death (trasylol costs > $1000, the other two about $50).

Check out the article and video from "60 Minutes" last night. This demonstrates more subversive behavior by pharmaceutical companies that are NOT in the best interest of the patients (it all comes down to money, again).


1. Vindication- This just in...Pakistani's have overwhelmingly voted against President Musharaff's party, by electing a prime minister and several parliamentary seats from opposition parties.

2. GWB (no, not George W. Bush)- What nation is the "happiest" in the world? Denmark, of course. Check out the story from "60 Minutes" last night. It seems they certainly have a good quality of life, despite of a 50% marginal tax rate. The drive for money is less, but at least according to the 4 Danes they interviewed, they still have ambition and drive to be successful. Although, their definition of success is probably different from that of most Americans.

"Just describe for me the qualities that a successful person would have in
this country," Safer asked.

"Well, in order to see myself as a success I would
want to be happy and have a lot of time with my family. I think that's very
important to me. And the money is not that important," he replied.

I sometimes wonder if the Europeans really have got "living" down to a science. There was a great article in the Economist about 1 year ago that stated that countries should be compared on a parameter other than GDP (gross domestic product) and instead should be compared on GWB ("General Well Being"). It sounds corny, but I tend to agree.

While we're talking about it, yhy don't you take this "Happiness Test"...

1. Steroidgate- Andy Pettite had a press conference today, apologizing for his use of performance-enhancing drugs. He said little about Clemens, except to say that their relationship was "strained" and that they have not spoken since Clemens pathetic performance on the Capitol Hill last week. Pettite is a good guy and is obviously telling the truth. Clemens should stop lying and just admit it. He is looking worse and worse as the days pass.

2. Spygate- Belichick is denying that he taped the Rams practice before the 2002 Super Bowl. I still don't understand why the NFL destroyed all of the tapes. Why would they destroy the evidence? I need to do more research on this, but it all sounds fishy.

3. Stop Crying Bostonians- For all of the New England Patriots fans, there is one place on earth when they are considered undefeated at 19-0. In Nicaragua, they are the "Super Bowl Champion" New England Patriots.

1. The Maestro- This was an uplifting and inspiring story shown on "60 Minutes" last night. It chronicles the supersonic rise of Venezuelan-born Gustavo Dudamel. He is only 26 years old, and was recently selected as the new director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. His energy is frenetic and limitless. Best part about Gustavo? He still goes back to Barquisimeto, Venezuela to conduct the Simon Bolivar National Youth Orchestra, a group composed of young talents all less than 25 years old. And, he plans on starting a music program for poor and impoverished students in L.A.

This does remind me of one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes when Elaine was dating the maestro (the guy who played the school teacher in the Twisted Sister video "I Wanna Rock"). He taught Kramer and George's dad the secret to keeping dress slacks wrinkle free...don't sit down in them. So, George's mom walks in on pantless Kramer, Mr. Contanza, and the Maestro playing pool (using the Maestro's conducting baton as their pool cue because the room was too small)...all in their boxer shorts. Very funny television.

2. Writer's strike- Thank goodness the writer's strike is over. I can't take any more reality TV on the networks. Unfortunately, it is too late for my favorite show to return to the air this season. That's right, "24" will not return until 2009, because Fox does not want to air the highly popular and critically acclaimed thriller show during the summer, when ratings are lower. So, we will have to wait to see Jack Bauer and crew until Jan 2009. So, Keifer has time to get drunk and get caught drunk-driving again, go to jail, and get out again in time for the next season of "24".

As for me, I will have to continue to subsist on a steady diet of my favorite non-network shows...Fast Money, Mad Money, Man vs. Wild, Mythbusters, Survivorman, The Daily Show, and Countdown with Keith Olbermann.

Whew...that's all for now.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Answer to Economics Quiz

There is no clear answer to the last quiz "Who would you be Mr. A or Mr. B?". In our poll, people desired to be Mr. B twice as often as Mr. A. However, in large studies conducted by researchers, most people say they would rather be Mr. A. They would rather forgo $50 to alleviate the feeling of regret that comes with not winning the thousand bucks. This goes against one of the biggest myths in all of psychology and economics, known as Homo economicus. This theory states that Homo sapiens acts to obtain the highest possible well-being for himself given available information about opportunities and other constraints, both natural and institutional, on his ability to achieve his predetermined goals.

But, in fact, human beings are all irrational and emotional in economic matters as they are in most other aspects of their lives. Like our primate cousins (see previous post for more on primates), humans so dislike the feeling of regret that we’ll pay to avoid it.

I, for one, voted that I would rather be Mr. A. For me, the regret of missing the opportunity to be the 1 millionth customer and get $850 more dollars would outweigh the fact that Mr. B got $50 more than Mr. A. Being Mr. A, you are the only winner. There was no potential to gain more by having acting differently (except for going to the other theatre that was paying more for the millionth...but for the sake of this quiz, we assume Mr. A did not even know about the other theater that Mr. B attended).

To me, it all comes out to the theory that 'you can't miss what you never had'. In Mr. B's scenario, I could've had a lot more money if I had just left my house 20 seconds sooner, or driven there just a little faster, or made it through one of the yellow lights on the way. Ugghhh, that would drive me crazy. However, being Mr. A, I would be happy that I had $100 more than I expected when I left the house. Rationally, I know that $150 is better than $100 straight up, but I cannot eliminate emotionality out of my reasoning (but apparently 2/3rd of the voters in our poll can do so).

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day everybody. In honor of this romantic holiday, I refer you to a sweet story about gorillas who were observed to be making love face to face. This is EXTREMELY rare for gorillas (primatologists from the Max Plank Institute in Germany said it was the first time in 13 years they had seen this type of behavior). They even witnessed the gorillas holding hands after their 2 minute soiree...

Real Life Star Wars

This is going to be very interesting. The U.S. military is going to try to shoot down a satellite that has faltered and is falling towards the Earth. They will fire a missile from a Navy ship to try to destroy it. I hope it is captured on film. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Health Care Potpourri

Updates from the health care world:

1. Back Pain- A study published in JAMA yesterday reveals that despite a 65% inflation-adjusted increase in spending on back pain and medications, to $86 billion, the percentage of people with back and neck pain that limited function increased from 21 to 26% between 1997 to 2005.

Most of the expenditures were on pain killers like Oxycontin. I guess the solution would be more preventive care and less "reactive care" (waiting until disease to treat symptoms). However, check out #2...

2. Is Preventive Care bunk? An analysis published today in the New England Journal of Medicine indicates that "preventive care" actually may not be that cost-effective. In fact, it found that preventive measures and treatments actually cost about the same amount. Initially, I found this report troubling because the great hope of public health policy experts and Democrats in congress was that altering the health care system to a more preventive type would improve outcomes and would save money. Although, if it costs about the same, isn't it better to prevent disease than to treat an established disease?

3. Don't live near an airport- a study of nearly 5,000 people found that an increase in night time airplane noise of 10 decibels increased the risk of high blood pressure by 14 percent in both men and women.

4. Diet soda? That's not healthy either. A new study reveals that the risk of developing metabolic syndrome was 34 percent higher among those who drank one can of diet soda a day compared with those who drank none. Eating more meat and fried foods was also associated with metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is the precusor to diabetes. It is a syndrome that involves abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol (mostly triglycerides), and slightly elevated blood glucose. It is not clear why this was the case. It may be a chemical in the diet sodas. One would guess also that people who are heavy with high blood pressure to start would drink more diet soda, but the authors tried to adjust for this in their analysis.


You MUST watch the following videos from YouTube. What you will find is the most average looking, regular guy (he's a cellular phone salesman) who tried out on the show "Britain's Got Talent". Overall, I'm very tired of reality TV, but this guy is the best singer you will ever see. And, get this, he sings OPERA. He has a beautiful voice, and it will give you chills. Please watch, you will not be sorry. The first video starts out slow, but watch it, because it gives you a little background on this amazing man.

First audition:



Roger the Dodger

Hope you were able to catch some of the Clemens testimony today in front of the House committee. It was quite entertaining. Clemens was grilled by most of the panel regarding the inconsistencies in his story. A few of the congressman were very soft and praised him and his "work-out ethic". Clemens got emotional and fired at times, and, for the most part, sounded like an bumbling idiot when the holes in his story were pointed out and he was asked to comment.

Bottom line:

1. McNamee is a tool. His creditability is definitely in question after today (he admitted lying several times to investigators previously). But, I do think he is telling the truth about Clemens (he was dead-on about Pettite and Knobloch).

2. The panel read aloud Andy Pettite's testimony during his deposition last week and also revealed that Andy signed a sworn affidavit that Roger Clemens told him directly that he was using HGH. Pettite's wife also signed a sworn affidavit confirming this fact, because, "Andy tells his wife everything". Before this was revealed, Clemens said that Andy is a very respectful, honest, and trustworthy. After this was read aloud, Clemens said that Andy must be "misremembering" (sic).

3. Clemens former nanny confirmed a major part of McNamee's testimony about a party at Jose Canseco's house. Roger said he had never been to his house. Roger proceeded to call the nanny over his house this past Sunday to tell her to that she shouldn't tell anyone who asks that he was at the party. The nanny not only told the investigators that he was at the party, but that he slept over, and that Roger had tried to prevent her from cooperating. That's called obstruction of justice. Roger told the committee that he was "trying to do them a favor" by getting her ready for the questioning.

No Hall of Fame for Clemens....maybe jail time for perjury and obstruction of justice.
For a lot more comments about the hearings, and a lot of funny comments, check out Jayson Stark's blog from

Tip of the Day to Save Money During this Recession

My brother sent along a tip on razors.

How many of you use the fancy Gillette Mach 3 or Schick Quattro razors? They do a nice job of shaving your beard, but they do hurt the wallet (they over $1 per razor).

It turns out that razors don't get dull from shaving--modern razors are impervious to your beard (unless you had something like sand or dirt on your face). The tempered stainless steel blades get dull from RUST!

So if you want to extend the life of your razor, keep the blades from rusting by drying your razors thoroughly after using them. You can do it with a towel or with a hair dryer. Don't leave the blades wet. A recent study demonstrated that drying the blades increased the life of razors by 122%!! And, a person named Clark Howard of Atlanta used a 17-cent disposable razor for an entire year. He said he extended blade life by blotting his razor dry with a towel after use. That is absolutely amazing.

Sound the Bugle, a Beagle Has Won!!

For the first time in history, a beagle was selected as the winner of the Westminster Dog Show.

That is a very good looking dog. Congratulations Snoopy!

An Object in Motion Tends to Stay in Motion

Barack Obama won three more contests yesterday, sweeping the "Potomac Primaries" (Maryland, Virginia, D.C.). He is really on a roll now, and has taken the lead in overall delegates (earned + super), 1,215 delegates to Clinton's 1,190.

Why is Obama doing so well? Let's look at some of the polling data from yesterday's primary.

1. Age

Obama won the votes of three-quarters of Virginia Democrats under age 30. He did better than Clinton in nearly every age group, although Clinton had stronger support among older voters. They were about even among senior citizens.

2. Gender and Race

Obama and Clinton tied among whites overall, and Obama won the votes of nine in 10 blacks in Virginia.

3. Economy

Obama easily beat Clinton among voters most concerned about the economy and about the war in Iraq. Clinton did best among voters who were most concerned about health care.

BTW, on the Republican side, where McCain continues to build on his already large lead over Huckabee, there was a poll question about what I had been referring to in the previous Rush Limbaugh post.

Voters who said they listened to conservative talk radio were more likely to vote for Huckabee, while non-listeners tended to support McCain. The more often people listened to conservative talk radio, the less likely they were to vote for McCain.

I can't believe the conservative talk radio people are willing to lose the election rather than having someone like McCain, a conservative who is willing to work with liberals and make compromises. Laura Ingraham was on Imus in the Morning yesterday, and refused to support McCain (although she said, that unlike some of you colleagues, she will NOT vote for the Democratic nominee). Maybe they feel burned by electing GW Bush, who certainly was NOT the conservative hero that he was touted to be.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Guzzle Tax

Radical move by the mayor of London. He is imposing a $49 fee for the most fuel inefficient vehicles to enter central London, 3 times the normal $16 fee. And, the most fuel efficient cars will gain access into central London for free.

The standard congestion tax has been in place since 2003, but the differential pricing rate will go into effect in October of this year.

Recently, Michael Bloomberg endorsed a plan to charge vehicles $8 to enter NYC below 60th street to relieve congestion and pollution.

These localized plans will relieve traffic congestion, but unless the majority of cities adopt similar plans, it will likely only have a negligible effect of emissions and CO2 production.

Et tu Brute? (Part Deux)

Roger Clemens will appear before congress tomorrow regarding his alleged steroid and HGH use. Interestingly, Andy Pettite, who admitted immediately after the Mitchell report that he, in fact, did use HGH in 2002, told investigators during his deposition last week that Brian McNamee's allegations against Roger are true.

Clemens bid for the Hall of Fame is toast.

"What you talkin' bout Willis"

Get this, Gary Coleman got a woman who is 5'7" (Coleman is 4'8").

Coleman's wife played down their height gap.''That doesn't really matter to me,'' she said. ''He was 10 feet tall to me because he was sweet and I really liked his personality.''

New Poll

I came across this interesting economics quiz. Let's do a quick poll, and then I will post the background and theory behind the answers in a few days.
As the 100,000th customer of a movie theatre, Mr. A wins a prize of $100. Meanwhile, down the block, Mr. B is standing just behind another theatre’s one-millionth customer. That lucky patron wins $1,000, while Mr. B collects a consolation prize of $150. Would you rather be Mr. A or Mr. B? (please vote in upper right corner of page...please no gender jokes. If you are female, pretend it is Ms. A and Ms. B that you are trying to decide between)

Freezing Time

We can't turn back time, but can time be frozen?

Check out this video of this "Freezing Time" prank at Grand Central Station. It's pretty funny.

Monday, February 11, 2008

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's a Superdelegate!

I really haven't understood what all this talk about the "superdelegates" has been about. So, I decided to do some reading and share the info with all of you.

The Democrats select their presidential nominee via a system based on delegates and superdelegates. There a a total of 4,049 delegates (regular and super) in the democratic party. A simple majority (2,025) are need for nomination. The standard (pledged) delegates are awarded based on the results of the democratic primaries and caucuses, in a manner proportional to the numbers of votes they gathered (the republicans have a 'winner take all' system for 11 of the 50 states...all of the dems pledged delegates are awarded proportionally).

As of 2/11/08, Obama leads Hillary with the number of pledged (i.e., EARNED) delegates, 958-904. However, when you factor in the superdelegates, Hillary Clinton leads Obama, 1,148 to 1,121. The superdelegates are made up of 796 lawmakers, governors and party officials. As of this past week, 399 of the superdelegates have publically supported a candidate (either Hillary or Obama). The others remain uncommitted, and thus, heavy lobbying is occurred trying to woo these remaining superdelegates.

Clearly, the way things are going in the primaries, the race will be decided by the superdelegates. Personally, I don't really find this system very "democratic". I think the nomination process should only rely on the votes earned from the actual primaries and caucuses. The superdelegates count for way too much! Look at this list of the democratic superdelegates:

You will find Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Walter Mondale, all of the democratic governors, senators, house reps, and a bunch of DNC members. I don't think these people who already wield so much power should have so much influence on the nomination process (approx 25% of the delegates are superdelegates).

The system utilizing superdelegates should be changed, as should the Electoral College for the national election.

Roy Scheider- Dead at 75

Roy Scheider died today at age 75. Scheider, most popular for his role in "Jaws", succumbed after a long battle with multiple myeloma.

My favorite Roy Scheider role was in "Blue Thunder" (both the movie and the TV show). For those of you that don't remember Blue Thunder, he was a police officer that flew the world's most advanced helicopter, nicknamed "Blue Thunder". The helicopter was equipped with stealth technology that allowed it to fly in 'whisper mode', infrared scanners, and a rotating gattling gun that would be activated when Scheider flipped the switch located under a plastic protective shield on the dashboard. My brother and I used to love watching this show on Friday nights when we were kids.

Got (Warm) Milk?

Check out this interesting idea to save energy fostered by an individual in Sweden. He will pump 7,900 gallons of the fresh warm milk from the cows into some rooms in a historic castle. The warm milk will heat the rooms.

So, maybe cows should be declared "carbon neutral"? That is, the energy saved from using warm milk to heat rather than fossil fuels would balance out the CO2 production from all of their flatus and belching? (see my previous post on this topic

"Back Problems"

Dolly Parton announced she has to postpone her concert tour because of back problems. I can't figure out why she would have any back problems...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Talk Radio

There has been LOTS of talk about the role of conservative talk radio in this year’s election. For those of you who haven’t heard, the stalwarts of conservative radio, such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham, and Glenn Beck had been staging an all out war vs. a John McCain nomination. Daily, on their radio shows that are listened to by millions of Americans, they denounced John McCain and urged listeners to vote for Mitt Romney. Ann Coulter, the vitriolic anorexic talking head that keeps writing best-selling books by employing a tone that attempts to devour liberals akin to how Hannibal Lecter likes to devour human brain, even went so far as to say that if McCain wins the Republican nomination, she would vote for Hillary Clinton in the general election.

The reasons they hate McCain are ridiculous. I’ve pointed out the reasons before in a previous post ( Let me add one thing to McCain's seemingly anti-conservative, "anti-Reagan" (as they claim) stances. While these radio folk LOVE to extol the conservative virtues of Reagan and criticize McCain for his positions on immigration, taxes, campaign finace reform, let us remember a few things. Reagan signed an “amnesty bill” for illegals in 1983, raised taxes 11 times after his big initial cut of the top marginal rate from 70 to 28% in 1982, and he was the president at a time when the budget deficit ballooned to a record 153 billion from 73 billion. Furthermore, the number of workers on the federal payroll rose by 61,000 under Reagan (the number fell by 373,000 under Clinton).

I know all of this talk is anathema for conservatives, but here are some articles that support this.

The big topic this morning on the Sunday morning political shows was whether the conservative radio crew would now support McCain since he is well on his way to capturing the nomination. Some said they would have to support him now, but others pointed to an interesting conspiracy theory. They felt that the talk show people (Rush, etc) would NOT support McCain and would rather have a democrat win the nomination because, at the very least, these people on the radio will have more fun and get higher ratings when they have someone in the White House that they can continually “bash”. Raging against the machine provides better entertainment than “Nice job Dubya”.

I don’t know if this interesting theory is true. We’ll see very soon how they handle having McCain as their “chosen one”. If any of you are listening to these people on the radio, write a comment to this post to let the rest of us know if they soften up on McCain. If they don’t lighten up and support him, then the conspiracy theorists will be right...they would rather serve their own personal interests (e.g., lots of viewers, lots of money because criticism intrigues listeners more than praise) that the interests of conservatives and republicans as a whole.

Market Woes

The S&P 500 was down 6% in January and is down 9.3% for 2008. That's a terrible start to the year. European and emerging markets were down > 10%. In fact, this article states that, in aggregate absolute terms, the world stockmarkets lost 5.2 TRILLION dollars in January.;_ylt=ArKqpKiHIGQyzFBxE5vMuKsDW7oF

My question to everybody out there is, where does that money go? How can there be a net loss of money? Doesn't the money go somewhere? For every trade, isn't there a buyer and seller? Did hedge funds that were "shorting" the market MAKE 5.2 trillion?

Also, although the market was bad last month, check out this chart from the greatest stock market crash of all-time from the Great Depression in the 1930s. I cannot even imagine the pain people must have been feeling, both from the terrible economy (no jobs or low wages), and all of the losses in the market (from 9/3/29 to 7/8/32, the market was down 89.2%).

But, folks, don't be down about this downturn. Remember that the average bear market only lasts around 6 months, and the average recession lasts about 10 months. Plus, look at this article in the following link. The market was actually increased in 5 of the last 9 recessions. And, look at the column in Table 1 demonstrating the 3 and 10 year returns from the start of the recession. All are significantly higher.

Bottom line, is that these next few weeks to months will actually be a great time to buy equities "on sale", and if you can stomach it and wait it out, your diligence and patience will pay off.

Lunar Eclipse

Just wanted to let everyone know that there will be another lunar eclipse coming up on Feb 20th. The good thing about this eclipse is that it will occur at 10 PM (the August eclipse occurred at 5 AM).

For those of you that didn't see the video Manish and I put together of the August eclipse, check out this video we posted on YouTube. He used his video editing software to overlay the still shots with music and text.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

A Penny Saved is a Penny...

This Sunday (Feb 10th), 60 Minutes will air on piece on the fate of the penny.

Should we abolish the penny? There are plenty good arguments to do so. First, the government loses about $900 million per year minting pennies (zinc, which makes up 97.5% of pennies, is very expensive). Second, it takes time to dig out pennies. Third, studies suggest replacing paper $1 bills with more durable $1 coins could save $500 million a year. Fourth, the penny is virtually worthless. Due to inflation, as of 2007, a nickel is worth approximately what a penny was worth in 1972.

What would happen if the penny is eliminated? All transactions would be rounded to the nearest nickel. I think we should do it. They are a waste of space, and handling them during transactions is not worth the time that is used up to get back exact change.

Let's put it to the vote meter to see how you all feel.

Ugliest Mugshot Ever

Heidi Fleiss...enough said

Ethanol goes "Pop"

A study published in "Science" has found that increasing the use of ethanol will actually INCREASE global warming. The study, from researchers at Princeton and Iowa State University, found that ethanol production from corn could double the amount of green house emissions. The reason for this is that plowing up the land will release much of the carbon formerly stored in plants and soils through decomposition or fires. The researchers state that the previous studies on ethanol were "one-sided" because they only counted the carbon benefits of using land for biofuels but not the carbon costs of diverting land from its existing uses.

This is why nuclear, solar and wind are the way to go.

Cuba no esta libre

Interesting story from CNN. They have obtained video secretely filmed at a meeting between the President of the National Assembly and university. Looks like the students are pretty unhappy about the "rights" (or, lack thereof) they have in Cuba.

Here's a reminder about how the Castro Government likes to run the country:

1. Cuba routinely bans international human rights and humanitarian agencies that may be critical of its human rights record (how convenient).

2. Cuba bans independent labor groups and harasses persons attempting to form them and factors criticism of the government into hiring and firing decisions.

3. Internet use is very restricted and under tight surveillance. Access is only possible with government permission and equipment is rationed. E-mail is monitored.

4. Permission from the government is required to move to another home due to the lack of private property rights.

5. Cuba has national health care, but...some of Cuba's best medical facilities exclude Cuban citizens unless they pay in US dollars.

6. Citizens cannot leave or return to Cuba without first obtaining official permission, which is often denied.

7. Cuban prison practices fail in numerous respects to comply with the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners

8. Cuban government restricts independent journalism, but using its security forces and courts to threaten, intimidate, detain, and prosecute journalists who do not espouse the government's views.

NFL Announcers

For all of you football fans, I came across Dr. Z's ranking of the football announcers. It's a surprising list. While Michaels and Madden ranked pretty highly, the top teams for CBS (Nantz and Simms) and Fox (Joe Buck and Aikman) scored poorly. Personally, I like the top guys, although now that I think about it, I might be biased by the following: 1) They are always calling the most competitive match-ups; 2) I've heard them so often, that I'm probably subconsciously soothed by their voices.
Anyway, here are the rankings. Feel free to throw in your 2 cents in the comments section.

BTW, this reminded me of one of the best young talents on TV, Frank Caliendo. He is a master impressionist and had a short-lived show on TBS this past fall.

Check out some of these clips. He does Madden, GW Bush, and Robin Williams absolutely dead on. (He does 5 Seinfeld characters in an amazing ensemble).

So long, Willard

Willard ("Mitt") Romney has finally withdrawn for the GOP race after he was trounced by John McCain (and Mike Huckabee) on Super Tuesday.

Everybody sing it now, "So long farewell, I leave and heave a sigh and say good bye".

Goodbye Mitt. Maybe you can go contemplate where you really stand on all of the issues from your easy chair at home rather than in the Oval Office.

I actually don't even have a problem with not being sure about positions on some of the issues. My problem with Mitt was that he did a complete 180 degree turn on every important issue. It wasn't just that he was moderating his positions on some issues after reflecting and investigating. No, he was once very very liberal on his positions, and for this race, he became very, very conservative. Not to defend John Kerry's failed run at the White House, but at least when he was accused of "flip-flopping" it was actually because his stances were actually fairly nuanced. This was not the case with Mitt...he was strongly on one side, before he was on the other side. In actuality, I'm sure most of you can think of at least 2 or 3 reasons to be for and and 2 or 3 reasons to be against certain positions that are important in politics.

Here, why don't you practice. Mentally think of a few reasons for each side of the argument (for/against) for the following issues:

1. Abortion

2. Stem-cell research

3. Immigration

4. Gay rights/marriage

5. Tax cuts

6. Curbing global warming

7. Universal health care

8. Fighting terrorism

9. Gun Control

I think most people (who are reasonable), can find reasons to be on both sides of those issues. It just does not make sense to be all the way to one side, and then all the way to another a few years later unless you are pandering to your base!

Goodbye Willard!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Sicko and Big Pharma, Continued

I recently had two posts on our the inefficiencies of our health care system (Sicko post: and a condemnation of direct to consumer advertising and other underhanded practices by pharmaceutical companies in the U.S. (Big Pharma post:

Here are links to two articles that echo similar concepts. The first is an opinion piece that lays out a very eloquent argument on why free markets have not worked for containing health care costs in the U.S.

An excerpt:

The extreme failure of the United States to contain medical costs results primarily from our unique, pervasive commercialization. The dominance of for-profit insurance and pharmaceutical companies, a new wave of investor-owned specialty hospitals, and profit-maximizing behavior even by nonprofit players raise costs and distort resource allocation. Profits, billing, marketing, and the gratuitous costs of private bureaucracies siphon off $400 billion to $500 billion of the $2.1 trillion spent, but the more serious and less appreciated syndrome is the set of perverse incentives produced by commercial dominance of the system.

Full text:

The second article relates to the "fradulent" Lipitor commercial starring Dr. Robert Jarvick. The commercial shows Dr. Jarvik rowing a boat across a lake in the mountains.

It turns out that Dr. Jarvick is not a cardiologist, is not licensed to practice medicine, and does not even row and it not an outdoorsman! They used a body double for the rowing scenes.

Money quote:

“He’s about as much an outdoorsman as Woody Allen” said a longtime collaborator, Dr. O. H. Frazier of the Texas Heart Institute. “He can’t row.”

Full text:

Never-ending Fight

Check out this story about how al-Qaida is training young boys (about 10 years old) to capture and kill civilians. We are in a fight with completely insane and irrational people...people who train children to kill and who place explosives on mentally retarded woman to cause bloodshed (see 2nd link for the story about what happened in Baghdad last week).

This was is not amenable to military tactics. It is not "trench warfare" of WWI or "jungle warfare" of Vietnam. This is like fighting thousands of crazy tazmanian devils that keep multiplying the more you fight against them. I don't know what it will mean "to win this war" or when we will ever get out of there. Their hatred for Americans, for other Muslims, and for humanity is too great.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Super Tuesday Results

I hope everybody who was eligible went out and voted today for their candidate of choice.

As of 11:57 PM, it appears that McCain is the big winner on the Republican side, by winning at least 7 primaries, and garnering the majority of delegates. Huckabee has had a decent showing, especially in the southern states. It is a very disappointing night for Willard (Mitt) Romney.

On the Democratic side, Obama has won 11 states, and Hillary has won 8, and is leading in California (55-32%) and overall in the delegate count (170-126). Hopefully, this race will come down to the convention, and deals will need to be brokered at the convention.

My predictions:
McCain wins the nomination and selects Mike Huckabee as his VP (to help him carry the Evangelical South).

Hillary and Obama battle it out over the next several weeks in the remaining primaries. Neither gains the required number of delegates to win outright by the time of the convention, and the House of Representatives has to select a nominee. Clinton probably wins the nomination and selects either Gov. Bill Richarson or Sen. Evan Baye as her running mate. If Obama can keep up the momentum (he has gained in the polls over the past few weeks and did win a significant amount of states tonight), he may sneak out a victory, and he selects someone "out of the box" for his running Chuck Hagel (a Repub), Bloomberg (Independent), or Wesley Clark (Dem).

Update on Polls

Thank you all for voting on the "Economic Stimulus Package" poll.

It appears that our readership will pocket most of the money (for the 60% that don't earn enough and thus, will receive a check). A total of 65% of you will put the money in the bank or pay off your credit cards. A few will donate to charity. Only 24% will spend the money on goods and services, which supports my hypothesis that this stimulus package will largely be a failure at boosting the economy (see "Stimulus Shimulus" post below).

Please vote on the new poll on the best lies of the year (see post below for the link with the full text of all of the lies).

"In Iran, We don't have homosexuals"

Check out this list of the best lies of the year. This is a fascinating list, and shows how much politicians spin the truth to try to gain favor in the public eye.

I think the "Best of the Rest" quotes are actually better and more memorable than the top 5. But, let's put it up to the vote meter and make it the next poll. See the poll in the upper right corner to vote for your favorite lies of the year. You can vote for more than one.

No Soup for You!!

This is amazing. Mississippi wants to ban fat people from eating in public restaurants! In general, I do support government-imposed public health restrictions on bad behavior, such as the smoking ban in several cities and states across the U.S. I support the ban on "trans fats". I also was somewhat intrigued by the concept of the "fat tax" that was entertained a few years back (unhealthy fatty foods would have higher taxes than healthy foods).

However, I think they may have crossed the sensitivity line by banning all people with BMI over 30 from eating in restaurants. People still have to eat. Check out the story. They even include the actual verbage of the bill that was proposed.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Wild and Wacky

Two "odd news" updates:

1. People in Dubai are paying INSANE amounts of money for vanity license plates. Two recent plates went for 3 and 7 million dollars. These people have to think of better things to do with their money.

2. Midgets in Sweden are sneaking into luggage on coach buses and stealing other's belongings while in the luggage holding area. Unreal.