Dec

15

 We had a brief thread on favorite podcasts, in which I mentioned EconTalk as a favorite — Russ Roberts sets the bar pretty high. And I also mentioned Barry Ritholz's Masters In Business podcast on Bloomberg. Here are a few more, varied in subject matter, all available on iTunes:

For some great intellectual fun (and if you're a Yank, to get a stretch trying understand the UK cultural references), I recommend The Infinite Monkey Cage very highly.

For an interesting take on general news, On The Media is however far left you consider National Kommunist Radio to be, as well as being a good listen.

If you like to actually cook, America's Test Kitchen has an excellent podcast.

If you enjoy understanding current legal issues, the Bloomberg Law podcast is very listenable and informative.

For amateur or aspiring-pro photogs, the Improve Photography podcast is excellent.

For stories, I have enjoyed the New Yorker Fiction podcast (which has no separate page other than the NYer podcast page, but is distinct in iTunes).

The Planet Money
podcast surprises me often with interesting short pieces with a surprisingly (if you think NKR is too left) free-market slant.

Just recently, I've started listening to the TED Radio Hour podcast and have been enjoying it quite a bit. Sometimes it seems like TED talks can become overly-smart people enamored of their own ideas which simply don't have much punch out in the real world; but often it lives up to the hype.

Philosophy Bites covers lots of interesting topics, the most recent being probability.

I get a lot out of Consuelo Mack's WealthTrack and never miss the podcast.

For general human-interest stories, This American Life is the standard by which other shows are measured. The spinoff, Serial, is also good. And RadioLab is sometimes a little precious but does a good job in the end.

Clive Burlin comments: 

BIG thanks for all these links. They all seem worthy of a listen. By the way, between the dogs, photography, markets, the lists, podcasts, ûTůb, etc, etc, when do you find time to sleep? : ) I for one have always admired your breadth of interest and knowledge. Thanks for being so generous in your sharing.

Apr

15

 Mediocre BBQ in the South is usually better than the best BBQ in other areas of the country. Today, I finally went to a BBQ place I've been meaning to go to for years. Located across from the Venice, FL Regional Hospital, Gold Rush BBQ has a chintzy Western/gold prospector motif, but the name of the place and the decor are the only thing that would remind one of the West. The food is purely, to put it mildly, Southern all the way. Hitting the restaurant at lunch time, I had to stand in line to wait for a table. Crowds at BBQ places are usually a good sign. Finally seated, the waitress brought me a huge glass of sweet tea, and took my order. I ordered a chopped pork sandwich covered with slaw, served with fries and a cucumber salad on the side. I was amazed at the size of the sandwich, which was more than enough to satisfy my BBQ craving. I don't usually eat pulled or chopped pork preferring sliced, but they only offered it chopped, so that's what I ordered. The slaw offered a nice counterbalance in flavors, toning down the intensity that pulled pork usually has, and provided a little texture to the perfectly made sandwich. The sauce was homemade, and had a bit of zip to it, lacking the sweetness that I usually prefer. More Carolina in style, the sauce was still an excellent accompaniment to the sandwich and was delicious. The fries deserve special note, as they were perfectly made and tasted great. I decided to try the cucumber salad, a bargain at only $0.69. It was an salad made with cucumber, tomato, onion, celery, dressing, and celery salt. It was, no hyperbole intended, the best cucumber salad I ever tasted in my life. It was a very elegant little salad, lacking any complexity, yet a perfect accompaniment to the rest of the food. The food was served in metal pans, and the restaurant provided real gold miners pans for the discarded bones. I thought the choice of plates was a bit over the top, but it's the food that's important, not the plates. I noticed other diners eating the ribs, and while they looked good, the portions were not as large as I would have liked. Snooping on my fellow customers, it was apparent that everyone was enjoying the food immensely. The sandwich portion was large enough that I decided to skip my usual pecan pie for dessert, although theirs looked like a world class pie. The ambiance of the Gold Rush was only lacking because there was no good country music playing in the background. Somehow, listening to Toby Keith or Garth Brooks while pigging out enhances the Southern BBQ experience, or so I have noticed. If one has high blood pressure, cholesterol problems, or obesity, it might be best to avoid this place and eat somewhere else. Now that I've had my BBQ fix, I can go back to my usual healthy diet.

Clive Burlin reminds us:

On the subject of slaw, etc: this recipe from J.T., circa 2004 is definitely worth concocting at home.

Ingredients

1 head cabbage, grated fine

1/2 cup fine chop dill pickles

2 cups mayonnaise

1 teaspoon sugar

1 small onion, chopped fine

1 teaspoon pepper

Directions

Grate cabbage and let it sit in strainer about 20 minutes. Use paper towel to dry off excess moisture. Transfer cabbage to a bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients and refrigerate about 1 hour before serving. To those that wish to spice it up sprinkle Old Bay Seasoning when finished, you can also sprinkle Old Bay on those ears of corn when buttered up as well as on those Bloody Mary's, hell just put Old Bay on everything.

Sep

30

TricoteuseListening to the mainstream media, with all of the hyperbole, could cause one to think that the sky is falling. Partisan bickering, grandstanding, and strong invective by our elected officials has spilled over to the already roiled markets, especially since we're so close to the election. More than a few of my mystic, non-thinking acquaintances have been advocating revolution, with Capitalism being replaced by a kinder, gentler Socialist system. Their true desire is to punish the evil greedy speculators, hold all the rascals accountable, who with the minority party have decided to ruin this great country. Their anger is palpable, and their ultimate dream is to become a tricoteuse. Theirs is only a dream, as sitting at the guillotine would require courage.

Misan Thrope is incredulous:

Didn't Lehman, Washington Mutual, Wachovia, AIG, Freddie, Fannie, Merrill Lynch and Bear Stearns just go down the tubes? Or is it a figment of the MSM's imagination? Might not [insert your favorite name here] get in trouble next if nothing is done?

Stefan Jovanovich explains:

The hyperbole is in the argument that but for the bailout payroll-checks will bounce. I did a Google search, and I could not find a news article about a single company that had been unable to make its payroll because the Federal government had failed to reflate the real estate asset-backed securities market. The connections between the "financial system" and the actual private business being done in the country may once have been real, but they are now largely a fiction. Small businesses that I know operate on a cash basis and don't need/aren't granted bank loans nowadays.

Eastsider concurs:

I think we're seeing a classic availability heuristic bias in the public analysis. The clients of DC looter-lawyers need the bailout, and engineer hysterical media coverage of the problems. The press is now just a firehose of bull____, drowning out all competing viewpoints.

It's a tired cliche to say we're racing toward the world Orwell and Rand forecast, but that analysis seems increasingly, depressingly, apt.

Laurel Kenner adds:

The American Enterprise Institute, W. Isaacs and  others fingered the so-called "Fair Value Accounting" rule as a post-Enron creation run amok, a major cause of the credit freeze.
 
Up until tonight, the SEC said no, the rule just reveals what lousy investments the firms had made. They just announced sensible modifications to the rule.
 
I can only wonder what can the SEC possibly say to the seven major U.S. firms that have fallen because of this rule? Sorry, we were a little too enthusiastic… too bad about you.
 
In any case, I'm sure the new Tricots will love this one.

It seems we are in agreement, when Clive Burlin intervenes:

Ms. Kenner, that you, of all people, would say  that! The whole issue of FASB Statement 157 is a total waste of time; from start to finish.

George Parkanyi ponders:

The news about Fair Value Accounting is interesting, especially to see to what extent it moves the log-jam in the credit system.

With foreign aid, sometimes you can have nasty unintended consequences. For example, when food aid is distributed for free for too long, local agriculture (and self-sufficiency) can crash because the farmers can’t compete with the free food.

In observing the behaviour of LIBOR lately, one wonders if institutions are simply waiting for the government (the patsy) to sell to at relatively inflated prices rather put in the effort to value the securities and try to trade with each other? Could the government’s presence actually be detrimental to a resolution?

An Anonymous Contributor Adds:  

While I am not an accountant, I believe both type of "Guidance" ("active market" and "distressed sales")  just raises the hierarchy of guiding to a higher level. (Could someone enlighten me if I am wrong). I believe FAS 157 pamphlets originally used both these cases as examples of when to use "intrinsic value" versus "market values". What is really new?

Because "active markets" and "distressed sales" are both judgement calls, rather than defined terms, good luck getting your auditor to sign off on them. They remember Arthur Andersen too well and seem sure that there are no penalties for being too strict on interpretation, but get busted for being too liberal.

SEC seem to be taking the stance that "some accounting mistakes were made, but not by me". So they are willing to sell their brother to save themselves. Perhaps as close to an admission of guilt as you can expect to get from a government regulator. 

Aug

28

Beijing MarathonWatching the Olympics, it was clear that distance running has moved up a notch from 1996. It was only 12 years ago that I thought with some hard work and perhaps a miraculous race of a lifetime one day I could make the USA marathon team. But what I watched this past year with the US team trials and then the Olympic marathon was a spectacle most amazing. I was left wondering how I ever thought I had a chance. What was I thinking? I don't know how to convey how good a 2:06 marathon is, especially in those hot conditions.  It is something I think you can only feel, by running with those who have that capability. The only way to understand it is to feel the intensity of the competition, by keeping pace with those amazing talents for a few miles of such a marathon. You can only understand the inner strength of such athletes if you've tried to built up that strength brick by brick — if you knew intimately the effort necessary, and built up within you a magnificently strong structure and then felt it melt by the heat of their calm efforts.

But what I found most amazing was not the asymptotic curve of times as displayed by the 4:00 mile, or the swimming pool. The line gets moved downward as methods, coaching and even equipment improve. But what I found amazing was the great diversity of talent. Any of those top 10 marathoners could have won, given the right venue. But the diversity of talent ensured that even given a terrible venue, one would still shine.

It's impossible to say who would have been best, given today’s knowledge, methods, equipment and training using yesterday's top talent. Everybody responds differently to different methods, especially the extreme training you need to do to be competitive today. For example altitude-simulating chambers  will give one guy a bigger edge than another.

Many have said that yesterday’s talent would never be the best today. And I know in my case, it is probably right; I wouldn’t have gone as far as I did in today’s deep field of youth and talent. But in general I disagree. It's not that they wouldn’t be the best, it's that they would be the best only under a much narrower set up of circumstances. It reminds me of the high school three sport athlete star who gets to college and has to decide which sport to play. Running today is more specialized, for example one marathoner may do better in heat, another in higher altitudes, another on hilly course, another on rougher roads. So it's not just survival of the fittest narrowing the field, but heightened competition responding to the need for more diversity.

Hence the market continually responds differently, not just because the competition is more cut-throat and getting tougher so all must learn new tricks, but because intense competition prepares for strenuous times by developing more diverse talents.

Scott Brooks adds:

If my math is correct, these runners are moving at a rate of ~12.5 mph to cover that distance in 2:06. They are running ~4:48/mile pace for all 26.21875 miles. That is a stunning pace! It makes me ask a question I've always wondered. What is the limit of human endurance? How much more time can we whittle of those numbers? Sure, I guess as time measurements get better we can break it down to the 1/10000th of a second someday to measure the difference between athletes. But when do the changes stop becoming meaningful? In 100 years from now, will marathoners be breaking the two hour barrier with regularity and how much will they break it by? What about 200 years from now?

Russ Sears replies:

The physics of the sport are more important than the time measurement accuracy. For example in measuring a marathon course, I believe it is officially 42,195 meters, then you must add 42 meters, because the course may shrink with temperature. So there maybe some truth to the joke, perhaps they needed to measure the distance of the cube again with so many records being broken. In about 1992, I read an article in Sports Illustrated claiming to analyze the Track and Field events for the physical limits of what is possible. All were well past the then current world record, but I believe that several have since been broken, such as the 10k time.

But for every ten innovations that shave a 1/10th of a second per mile you get one innovation that shaves a full second. Perhaps eventually you reach the point where for every 100 innovations you get 1/100 and one you get 1/10th but you never know if the 1 millionth innovation shaves that full second off again. But what I think you are seeing is that rather than just the talent and training, controlling the conditions of the event starts to mean more than the control of the talent/training. Hence on any given day one can beat the others.

Adam Robinson predicts:

The marathon world record will be under two hours in the year 2023, according to my projections, though it could be broken earlier with superior terrain and weather conditions.

The equation I fit was:

Marathon post WWII times (in minutes) = 159 - .00044 * (world pop.)^0.5

Nigel Davies queries:

Are you sure this will be linear? Training methods and superior equipment may be part of the equation but other factors could include things like human height (with a direct effect on stride length) and population size (increasing or decreasing competition). And it seems there's a cyclical element to human height at least; it declined in the late 19th and increased in the 20th century.

Adam Robinson replies:

There's no way to model training method improvements, and I assume in something like the marathon that technique and training is probably close to asymptotically perfected as we're likely to see, unlike shorter events where a better start or something might shave off a significant fraction of time.

But note that the relationship is not linear, it's based on the square root of the world's population, which is how the bell curve of talent will disperse, so the model's based on the very simple assumption that the fastest time will improve simply because the sample size has gotten larger.

I did this quickly, back-of-the-envelope, when in fact a better model would have been the world record as a function of the accumulated population of the world. But as a rough (90% accurate) prediction, it's not bad.

Clive Burlin says it all depends on incentives:

Idolize and pay huge sums of money to marathon winners and sub two hours will be broken long before 2023.

Why would anyone but a narcissist endure all that pain when you can go out on a field, catch a ball, run a few yards and make 20 million a year?

When marathon runners start making mad Benjamins, more will come out to train and break records.

Stefan Jovanovich rectifies:

There has only been one baseball player paid $20 million/year; and, as Yankee fans know, Mr. Rodriguez is not being paid for his glove work. As for running backs, none is paid $20 million a year or anything close to it. One of the great successes of the NFL — compared to baseball and basketball — is that the spread between the publicly-announced salaries and the net cash received by players is 50% or more; it was one of Gene Upshaw's many burdens that the NFL Player's Unions strikes were not nearly as effective as the baseball and basketball player unions "job actions" have been. (Anyone have any idea why?)

Compared to what they made even ten years ago, track and field athletes have made remarkable gains; there are now several thousand professionals who actually make a living from their pains. In Carl Lewis' heyday the number was fewer than one hundred. There may be more than narcissism motivating those guys in Mexico City who train in the smog every day.

One of the fascinating ironies of the Olympics regarding money and sports was that the Russian women's basketball team won the bronze medal by having the American Becky Hammon as a ringer. When one of the newsies complained that she has playing for the U.S. cold war enemy, she pointed out that the U.S. team did not invite her to play (itself puzzling since she is the best pure shooter in the history of U.S. women's professional basketball). She also pointed out that she makes far more money playing for the Moscow team in the Russian professional basketball league than she makes playing for San Antonio in the WNBA.

Apr

8

Crew RaceProper preparation: Went to a boat race at St. Andrews recently and saw the senior crew rinsing and washing their boat one hour before game time. They said it adds a small fraction to their time and gives them pride. The importance of getting everything in place and order for your trading day, with every little thing, and every little extra and everything prideful is underlined. John Wooden's first meeting with his players where he teaches them how to wash their hands, and put on their socks, comes to mind.

Playing for keeps: Federer is having the worst start of a season ever, not getting into a final in his last six tournaments. Before he started competing for real, he played a series of exhibition matches with Sampras, and each went three sets into extras. He obviously was fooling around, trying to keep it interesting and this kind of "customer's game" is hard to extinguish — even the memory of it is odious for competition. How many times does a market player put on a reaching trade, for the fun of it, or just take a roll of a dice with a small edge after a series of big wins, and how often does he end up like Federer this year?

Pat EwingHall of Fame: Patrick Ewing was inducted into the Hall of Fame yesterday, and certainly Doc Greenspan would have been a better choice. His grotesque and sullen disposition, his outside game that prevented any rebounds, and the general aura that he created for the team during his last eight years there must have had much carryover effect on why the Knicks are still the world's worst. Sort of like the residue of the bridge player on the take-no-prisoners brokerage house that recently saw a 90% decline in stock price.

Success factors: The Memphis-Kansas game illustrates a myriad of truths about markets. First, the little things that were done wrong made the difference between success and failure. A Memphis player argued with the referee and saw Kansas score an easy basket while he procrastinated. How often does one argue with the floor, or the counterparty and lose much more than he would have by calling it a day? If litigation is involved, know that the legal costs in the typical court case are far greater than your net expectation.

KansasLittle things: The game decided by little things and letting up with Memphis ahead by nine with two minutes to go. It reminds me of days like today where the market was way up as of 1:00 or 2:00 or 3:00 and everything was grand for the bulls, the sun was shining, the water was beautiful (a la Memoirs of a Superfluous Man) and then one minute after the close, the market had dropped 2% from its three month high, a 20 day high, which, incidentally, took the longest to realize of any in the last eight years. One also notes that Chalmers seems to be the best thief in recent memory, and his four steals meant the difference between success and failure. Specialization in one market, one part of the day is often sufficient to give one the victory.

Steve Leslie adds:

I am reminded of the saying "G-d is in the details." This is generally attributed to Gustave Flaubert, who is often quoted as saying, "Le bon D-eu est dans le detail." Others have used this quote, such as Michelangelo and Le Corbusier. Paradoxically it is quoted by the architect Ludwig Mies Van de Rohe as "The Devil is in the details." Interestingly Mies and R. Buckminster Fuller are credited with the saying "Less is More." If one wants to get a healthy dose of attention to detail, watch a pit crew at a Formula One race. It is true poetry in motion. They can fuel a car and change tires in less than eight seconds.

Rodger Bastien comments:

I would agree that the difference in the Memphis-Kansas game was preparedness. The sequence leading up to the three-pointer by Chalmers that sent the game into overtime was badly mishandled by Memphis coach John Calipari and he knew it. You can't afford to overlook anything lest it cost you the game and it was evident that he didn't make it clear to his kids just what to do in that situation (which was clearly to foul to prevent the three-pointer). What's more, an immediate timeout should have been called with two seconds remaining in regulation — again, coach's fault. Reminds me of the poor judgment I too often demonstrate in fast market conditions…

Tim Hesselsweet suggests:

Be aggressive. The passive play of Derrick Rose, who advanced the ball beyond midcourt then promptly passed and ran to stand in the corner, diminished one crucial source of leverage for Memphis. Rose destroyed Texas's 1st-team All-America PG Augustin in the regional final and took advantage of UCLA's guards by penetrating to either score or draw additional defenders and find open teammates for easy baskets.

Alan Millhone notes:

Sean KempSaw on the news a current NBA player has 10 children by eight women and has not paid his support payments to any of them. Not a good example for any young athlete who aspires to greatness in basketball or anything else ! This player might get into the "Hall of Shame."

Nigel Davies assays:

There are two different forms of preparation here; technical preparation and psychological preparation via ritual. Washing the boat is technical whereas John Wooden's hand/sock washing would have been mainly ritual, which is not to underestimate its importance. Rituals provide valuable triggers to enter a particular state of mind.

At the chessboard both are used. For example one might study an opponent's games and/or prepare a particular variation (technical) before going to the board at a prescribed time (e.g. five or 10 minutes before the start), carefully filling out the score sheet, cleaning one's glasses or some such (all mainly ritual).

Good preparation includes proper consideration of both of these. And one of the main strengths of experienced players is that they often have their preparation routine well worked out.

J.P. Highland offers:

JuventusEuropean soccer is played in a way that guarantees the cream always comes on top at the end of the season. The winner is the team that obtains more points after a long 38 game season. The only problem with this system is that it leaves almost no chance for surprises. Real Madrid and Barcelona have won most championships in Spain, so have Juventus and Milan in Italy and Manchester United and Liverpool in England.

American sports are more socialistic, impose salary caps, revenue sharing, give a chance to bad teams to draft before winners and have a playoff system that gives a higher probability of having a winner th product of randomness by inviting underdog teams that are graciously called wild cards that can later become champions like the New York Giants.

Speculation is closer to the European system. You can get lucky some days and reap a good reward but in the long run the lack of sound money management and a strict trading plan will put you out of business.

Clive Burlin recounts:

I took an introductory flying lesson recently. I was shocked at how much checking gets done before you roll down the runway. While the instructor was going around the plane checking the propeller, flaps, gas, tail, etc., I was thinking to myself "you know, if you did half the amount of prep before putting on a trade, maybe your results would be a bit better." This thought was totally reinforced once inside the cockpit where the pilot sat with this long check-list seemingly checking every button and switch there was. A few more checks before take-off and we were barrelling down the runway.

Scott Brooks recalls:

Some years ago, I was listening to an interview of several NBA players and the focus was on Patrick Ewing. One thing all the players agreed on was that Ewing was cheap. He never picked up any tabs. Don't know if it's true or not, but I found it interesting that the biggest personal matter that they all agreed on, and spent a inordinate amount of time talking about, was his "cheapness."

Apr

1

African DancersAfrica will start playing a role in global strategic relationships and in the global economy in the next decade. Addressing poverty, terrorism, failing or weak states, and health issues is important for global security. The need to diversify sources of energy and materials in the competition for natural resources and secure access to the global market make Africa an important actor.

Assets move globally in search of low costs of labor and production. Emerging markets in African countries will become with time more and more representative.

In Africa we will see the US, China and the EU compete. Security, stability, respect of human rights are the basis for economic and social development within the respect of the local culture. The way is quite long and difficult but with ups and downs, at times and in some countries even dramatic, the conditions exist for a path of improvement and development.

Clive Burlin adds:

If a country like Mozambique can start making a comeback, the future for Zimbabwe looks ultra bright.

Sep

19

Gas PumpGas station owners, regardless of the price of gasoline, have the same static dollar level profit built into each gallon. Whether gas is $1.50 or $3.00 per gallon, they make only $0.06 per gallon profit.
 
Credit card companies don't pay the gas station owner $1 for every $1 charged — they pay $0.98 for every dollar charged (the reduction discount to the actual amount charged ranges from 1% - 5%, with 2% the average), making the credit card company very profitable even if you pay your balance off in full every month.
 
That discount decreases the profitability to the vendor. At $3.00 per gallon, when you charge your gas, the gas station owner can see all or most of his profit disappear due to the credit card discount. In some cases, he can lose money! 

Clive Burlin adds:

A BP gas station down the road from my house that had been closed for tank repairs is preparing to reopen. Passing by this morning I noticed they are going to have two pricing tiers: one for credit, the other for cash. Is this a pricing scheme already in use elsewhere in the USA or it it a harbinger?

Aug

21

The following is an excerpt from a New York Times article:

Secretive as they are about specifics, the magicians were as eager as the scientists when it came to discussing the cognitive illusions that masquerade as magic: disguising one action as another, implying data that aren’t there, taking advantage of how the brain fills in gaps - making assumptions, as The Amazing Randi put it, and mistaking them for facts.

Sounding more like a professor than a comedian and magician, Teller described how a good conjuror exploits the human compulsion to find patterns, and to impose them when they aren't really there.

"In real life if you see something done again and again, you study it and you gradually pick up a pattern," he said as he walked onstage holding a brass bucket in his left hand. "If you do that with a magician, it's sometimes a big mistake." 

Jun

28

 I've got some friends down in the Miami/Homestead area of Florida that are great fisherman! We met a few years ago on the North American Hunting Club website. The NAHC has a website feature where you can do a "swap hunt". That's where you post a hunt in exchange for another hunt with someone else.

About five years ago, I posted on the site a "bow hunt for whitetail and turkey hunt in exchange for…?" I was open to offers. That's how I met the guys from Florida. We swapped a deep sea fishing trip for a hunt on my farm and had so much fun that we did it again. We no longer swap hunts or fishing trips; we just go hunting and fishing together whenever we can.

These guys are excellent fisherman. They all have regular jobs. One is paramedic, one owns an HVAC business, the other a roofing business, but they only do that on the side. They make their real money fishing. I was stunned when I found out how much these guys make fishing in tournaments. And they win or at least place in the money more often than not.

A few years ago we were out fishing in 10 - 12 foot rollers. I was as green with sea sickness but then we got into a mess of dolphin fish (sometimes called mahi mahi, or dorado's). We proceeded to catch more than 80 dolphin fish in four hours.

On the dock before we set out for the day, we were all talking about deer hunting. The conversation revolved around how each year there is some lucky guy who has never deer hunted in his life who goes out an shots a giant trophy buck. And since he doesn't know what he's got, he saws the antlers off and throws them in his garage until someone who knows deer hunting sees the rack and tells the ignorant hunter just what he has. The conversation revolved around how anyone could be so dumb as to not recognize what they've got after getting so lucky. What does this have to do with fishing (and maybe the markets)?

Eli Zabethan remarks:

I was out fishing Saturday, magnificent clear sunny day but winds were almost gale force and 5'-7' seas were boiling at 6pm. Even the Manaloking and Barnegat bays had 2'-3' waves. Not a place for amateurs when its gets this vicious.

Clive Burlin adds:

Yesterday at about 5pm the bay in front of my Jersey Shore house starting boiling. Hundreds of fish churning the water into chaos with the seagulls going ballistic at the same time. The blues were chasing the bunker. What an incredible sight! An absolute mad feeding frenzy. Within 30 minutes it was all over and the water was dead calm again. I'd never seen this before even though I've lived here for eight years. 

Jun

4

 I've shared my other favorite BBQ. That's to make extra creamy coleslaw and put a ton of Old Bay or your favorite crab seasoning to spice it up. Yes! For almost two years, J.T's coleslaw has reigned supreme in this neck of the woods. For those who missed it:

Ingredients

1 head cabbage, grated fine
1/2 cup fine chop dill pickles
2 cups mayonnaise
1 teaspoon sugar
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 teaspoon pepper

Directions: Grate cabbage and let it sit in strainer about 20 minutes. Use paper towel to dry off excess moisture. Transfer cabbage to a bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients and refrigerate about 1 hour before serving. To those that wish to spice it up sprinkle Old Bay Seasoning when finished. You can also sprinkle Old Bay on those ears of corn when buttered up as well as on those Bloody Marys.

Hell, just put Old Bay on everything.

Larry Williams adds:

 Living in Australia has been great, but unable to find real BBQ and stuck in an apartment without Weber grills we were forced to improvise for our culinary survival. Sauces, of course are covered, but what to do if all you have is an oven?

Our tests finally produced an excellent technique to mimic the "real deal". Here it is:

Clean ribs; rub with your choice of rubs or seasonings, at least use salt and pepper, maybe Chili powder, etc.

Place in deep pan, wrap in foil, and pop in a 250-degree oven for 5-6 hours. Pop them out from time to time to lather with sauce. Remove foil for last 30-45 minutes.

The results are as close as you can get the south while not leaving your kitchen or striking a match. Good eating to all.

Apr

18

 At lunch today, the semiologists in our office were puzzling over this photo, the centerpiece of a multi-page Obama hagiography in the current issue of New York Magazine (a glossy lifestyle-porn publication for affluent suburbanites).

The obvious religious tonality — "Obama Transfigured Before His Disciples" — must be intentional. The triptych format; the halo of light above him; his elevated position; his posture; his disciples gazing upward, hands clasped prayerfully.

Note the disciple seated on the right (yes, the Palindrome) — Judas, are we to think? Or Doubting Thomas? Poised to de-fund unless he sees "proof" in the early primaries?

Victor Niederhoffer comments:

The Palindrome looks like he's thinking about a chess problem.

Clive Burlin adds:

When I saw the picture, my first thought was: "Ha! That's what being uber-rich gets you, a chair to sit on while the riffraff have to stand!"

Jan

31

I have to admit it here and now. I like White Castle burgers. I even buy them frozen and microwave them. How many parsecs does it take to walk one of those off?

Clive comments:

You would have to walk 160 miles to purge that one Big Mac from your body!

I'm in big trouble then. I eat those things at least three times a week by the bag full. In fact just today I bought two of them and six double cheese burgers. I can't explain why, but whenever I eat those, no matter what my P&L looks like, life is good. My dogs are fans too!

Jack Tierney adds: 

This is a painful thread for those of us consigned to a life of tofu and bean sprouts. But we put on a brave face and tell ourselves our path is not only straight but virtuous, that baseball is an allegory for life, that the market climbs a wall of worry, and that inverted yield curves are non-events.

However, if this thread continues, may you be visited by the Conductor of Cardiac Events.

Nov

16

The National Book Award winners were announced yesterday:

Oct

24

A dollar for one donut makes it hard for bums to justify sitting in Dunkin’ all day eyeing mom’s overstuffed low-hanging purse. Perhaps it is just a wise ‘customer sorting’ measure, bringing the retail big spender, families, full tickets, dozen buyers and not the 50 cent penny pincher/bum/lowlife who won’t spend much anyway/complains the most/scares off the grandmas, families and women. Send him over to your competition to keep them busy making nada.

I learned this in the auto glass replacement biz when I stopped doing mobile chip repairs for $35 and side view mirror replacements for $60 and instead booked all mobile jobs at a $160 profit minimum, same as all my other glass jobs. Forwarding them to my keenest competition overloaded them with the worst jobs and added about $160,000 a year to my model, and kept them busy not getting the high paying jobs as they were ‘booked’ with low paying ones. Also, a customer ordering a $35 dollar service was five times more likely to cancel/no show, so this dropped my cancellation percentage.

Clive Burlin adds:

Speaking of coffee and donuts, with their rapid expansion in the NJ/PA area, I think Wawa is going to put 7-11 under enormous financial pressure.

To give a simple example, 7-11 has been forced to start selling cigarettes at state minimum since Wawa started encroaching on their territory where before they were 50-60 cents more expensive. A few other reasons why Wawa is going to hurt 7-11:

1. A lot of their new stores are opening up with gas stations attached and the gas prices are ultra aggressive.

2. Coffee is not only fresh (a pot has to be discarded every 20 minutes), but they have at least 12 different types, from Kona to flavored.

3. Clean bathrooms. 7-11 doesn’t have facilities.

4. Made to order hot and cold sandwiches. 7-11 has a small selection of premade.

5. Free ATM machines. 7-11 has Citibank, which charges a fee.

6. Three or four registers going at once instead of the 7-11’s one.

7. Huge, well-lit parking facilities.

8. More selection and better pricing on groceries.

If Wawa keeps expanding across the country, 7-11 as we know it may not be around for too much longer.

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