31 August 2010

August Tweets (or, the mind that never shuts up)

Too busy writing and working to write a blog post ... so, here's something to prove blog activity - a smattering of the tweets from August.

Good @ programming but bad @ marketing. His database for children's doctors was a flop. And he'd had such high hopes for pedo-file

Band name idea: cognitive dissonance. And to make the point, it should be a string quartet.

At some point, being advanced works against you. Good: he's 8 but reads at a 12 year old level. Bad: he's 60 but walks like he's 90.

From what I can tell, the difference between hipsters and country folk is not what they wear but whether they wear it w/ a sense of irony.

Idea for children's book from visit to Zoo: "the bear isn't there & there is no otter in that water: learning to cope w/ disappointment"

Got the multivitamins. Now all I need is roughage and calories, right? I'm thinking sugar cane.

Glen Beck's "Rally to Restore Honor." will be followed by the "NASCAR Rally to Restore Old Chevy's." Toby Keith will perform.

So excited about prospect of being on next season's dancing w/ stars. I wonder, tho, if I'm the only candidate they've yet to contact at all

Gulf spill reveals previously unknown oil-eating bacteria is now flourishing. Now to find the oil-pooping bacteria.

People always tell me to "travel safe." I already stay out of the cockpit. I'm not sure what more they want me to do.

Media distortion bumps ratings twice: once to hype the proapects of the tea party candidate and then again to hype McCain's "surprising" victory.

Guys @ table in Japanese restaurant inexplicably rotated their table 90 degrees. Then I felt the instant change in the the feng shui.

Man, shot in head, notices five years later: http://yhoo.it/doZ2ZI Well, to be fair, it was the BACK of his head.

The ban of the mosque near ground zero doesn't go far enough: we should ban construction of all buildings by religions we know are wrong.

Little known clause in Tiger's divorce settlement: he has to now go by his given name, Eldrick .

Lou Piniella retired. I think he should stay on somewhere, pioneering the new role of designated call protestor.

News from the future: WW3 started weeks after North Korea joined facebook and misinterpreted France's poke.

Band name idea: "head butting the hornet's nest."

It's always the middle of the story. Even history has a history.

In Google, type "Find Chuck Norris" and then hit, "I am feeling lucky" button.

Just after Byrne sold 19 million copies of her positive thinking book The Secret, the economy collapsed. I wonder what her new book will do.

I'm nearly positive that the BBC was reporting on alms trafficking. That concept so intrigues me.

Plato's cave allegory becomes the online allegory. "And they turned from their monitors and said, 'that can't be the real world!'"

I think that soon the televangelist will become the twittavangelist. Just send money if you support this idea.

RT @leawoodward: Will any of these be yours? ~ The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying http://bit.ly/bFqdpZ

A growing % of Americans think that Obama is Muslim. Less reported is the sudden surge in % who suspect that Mitt Romney is Unitarian.

I wonder if it is a sign of progress or decadence that 7-11 now serves sushi.

Shopping at Costco is like a Vegas wedding. You wake up the next morning wondering about long-term commitments you’ve made.

Children should be heard but not obscene.

RT @nprscottsimon: "Toilet owned by JD Salinger being auctioned for $1 mil. " Wonder if this shows little or great respect for literature?

Saw a guy with a "Chargers for Life" t-shirt. I wonder what he did to deserve that kind of sentence.

In retrospect, they had made their plan to ensnare the population's attention no secret. They had, after all, called it the world wide web.

Karate shares etymology with Karaoke. It means "to gesture loudly." Sadly, people misunderstood early practitioners and responded violently.

Good idea: comic strip. Bad idea: comedians strip.

Biz idea: phone plan that includes occasional texts from people like Voltaire, Oscar Wilde, and Richard Pryor.

After BP spills oil in2 the ocean, ice island 4X size of Manhattan breaks loose & is on path 2 destroy oil platforms. Probably coincidence.

I wonder if Billy Idol referred to his dad as "Pop."

Biz idea: Barnes & Noodles. Yaki soba and non-fiction. "You'll find our Italian noodle section just behind the self-help aisle."

I think it is so cool that California has HOV lanes. Sadly, tho, I did not see any actual Hovercraft on the trip home.

Wonder if some guy in Asia has a cryptic tattoo in English no one can read. Read, "Don't forget the milk." Everyone assumes it is profound.

Venice Boardwalk - where the audience is the show.

A week ago in Indy. Today in Venice Beach. They're different.

Simple rule: if it costs 6 cents to make something worth one, stop making them. My deficit reduction plan? Stop making pennies.

Girls that grew up w/ Barbie financed cosmetic surgery industry. Boys that grew up w/ Buck Rogers put billions into Star Wars defense.

.... didn't know the difference between caring about other people and caring about what other people thought.

Society is a consensus trance, like a person hypnotizing himself in the mirror and then walking away & forgetting that he’s under hypnosis

biz idea: open a restaurant named "lunch." When people say, "let's go to lunch," it'd be the default. "When all you know is you want lunch."

Like the 5th annual going out of business sale ... Favre announces that he's retiring.

Denver International Airport is DIA. I wonder how they refer to their Expressway?

A-Rod's quest for 600 home runs approaches 2 weeks. Just to put that in perspective, the rest of the planet's quest is approaching infinity.

Ambush pedagogy: early release 4 inmates willing 2 do community service jumping from behind trees 2 frighten children w/ memorable facts.


27 August 2010

Oh, now that we see the potential, we'll take that from you

I am a little ticked off. I had a stock taken forcefully from me and I a offended that such a thing is legal.

I am convinced that great stock opportunities come along at best a few times a year. On occasion, you encounter a company that Wall Street doesn't really know about and that has not yet generated any numbers to prove its potential.

Oh, and I really like fish tacos. It's a San Diego thing but you know, there was a time when pizza was just an Italian thing. If something tastes good, it'll take off.

Rubio's is a local restaurant chain that helped to popularize the fish taco this side of the border and on top of that, they offer relatively healthy Mexican food.

For all these reasons, I bought stock in the company. McDonald's market cap is about $78 billion. When I bought Rubio's stock, their market cap was about $50 million. If Rubio's had 1% of the value of McDonald's, the stock would rise 10X. It seemed to me a reasonable bet.

About two days ago, my Yahoo portfolio says, "No such symbol RUBO." I didn't have time to look into it until today. As it turns out, a company has taken Rubio's private. The good news is that they paid me about 75% more than I had paid. The bad news is that this is nowhere close to the 10X I thought possible. And, I was not even given the option to say no to their offer of $8.70 a share. This was, from my perspective, a forced sale.

So, on top of all the other problems with stock market investing, whenever a really good opportunity does come along, someone can force it from you? Really? That just seems wrong. And I'm a little ticked off. I might just go somewhere different for Mexican food this weekend.

26 August 2010

Time to Run & Scream! (or not)

The Hindenburg Omen IS Scary (read here)

I'm sorry. I should take this seriously. My portfolio is again lying on the tracks while a train may - or may not - be coming. But I have to confess that I find this kind of thing so many degrees of amusing.

"Charlie!! Look!! The Hindenburg Omen is flashing!!"
"Oh! No!" Pause. "What is that?"
"It's a predictor."
"Of what?"
"Well, as it turns out, 25% of the time that it flashes, we run and scream like little girls."
"We do?" Pause. "Why?"
"Because the Hindenburg Omen is flashing!"
"So it flashes to warn us what we are about to do?"
"Why would we run and scream like little girls?"
"Because the Hindenburg Indicator is flashing!"

And so it goes. Market indicators tell players in the market that they are about to buy or sell and ... ta da! ... accurately predict this behavior every time everyone takes them seriously.

I feel inclined to run and scream just knowing that such convoluted "predictors" exist.

21 August 2010

The Move Towards Infinite Inventory

Today we tried a new place for lunch - CBW. I ordered the fajita bowl and thought that my ordering was done. The following ensued:

Cashier: Do you want beef, chicken, or tofu?
Me: Chicken.
C: Breast meat, dark meat or crispy chicken?
M: Crispy.
C: For grain do you want white rice, brown rice, noodles or quinoa?
M: Quinoa.
C: Would you like chips or a tortilla with that?
M: Tortilla.
C: Flour, Wheat, Spinach, or Tomato tortilla?
M: [by this point dizzy with the options] Just the flour.

If I calculated correctly, I was heading down a decision tree with 288 options. (Assuming, I guess, that there were as many options down the tofu or beef and the chips trail.) Not only that, but this fajita bowl was one of probably 30 items on the menu. If they all offered as many possible combinations, it means that I could eat 8,640 different, unique meals at this one fast food place. That is, I could dine there for lunch more than 20 years and never have the exact same meal twice. And after I ordered, I could walk over to the "flavor" bar to choose between the six (or was it eight?) different sauces ... which meant that I actually would have more than a century's worth of unique lunches at this one place.

Economists are now talking about biflation. By this they mean that commodity prices appear to be rising (inflation) and prices of goods appear to be dropping (deflation). This little experience might explain why: with so many varieties, the competition for meals would bid prices down. With the need to stock so many options, this would bid the prices of commodities up. Maybe.

I just know that next time I'll simply ask the cashier if I can just have the #1.

20 August 2010

Litany - as Recited by a 3 Year Old

Happy Friday

Or ...



You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the dew on the morning grass
and the burning wheel of the sun.
You are the white apron of the baker
and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
the plums on the counter,
or the house of cards.
And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.
There is just no way you are the pine-scented air.

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
maybe even the pigeon on the general's head,
but you are not even close
to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.

And a quick look in the mirror will show
that you are neither the boots in the corner
nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the sound of rain on the roof.

I also happen to be the shooting star,
the evening paper blowing down an alley,
and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

I am also the moon in the trees
and the blind woman's tea cup.
But don't worry, I am not the bread and the knife.
You are still the bread and the knife.
You will always be the bread and the knife,
not to mention the crystal goblet and—somehow—the wine.

14 August 2010

Little Feat Obit

This week, Little Feat drummer Richie Hayward died. There is still, for my dime, no band that better realized the potential of a blues / rock / country / disco / jazz fusion band. "Fat Man in the Bathtub" gives you a window into how much was going on in just their rhythm section.

12 August 2010

And the Cow Flew Over the Moon - Newton Counters Centrifugal Force

The leading Renaissance thinkers were willing to adapt their minds to the facts but weren’t sure how to fully explain them. Although it took decades for most scientists to accept Copernicus’s revolutionary claims, those scientists were not stupid. In addition to scripture and their own senses – it was obvious even to the casual observer that the sun rose and the earth was stationary – they had a fairly reasonable, scientific objection. Copernicus could accept facts as he observed them, but didn’t really have a cogent explanation of why the solar system worked as it did.

Imagine this conversation.

Copernicus’s debate opponent says, “So, Nicoli, let me grant you your silly premise for a moment. Let’s assume that we do, indeed, circle the sun. You claim that we’re spinning through space and traveling at thousands of miles per hour. Okay. What about centrifugal force? Spin a rock at the end of a string and see how many seconds it takes the ant on that rock to fly into space. Why doesn’t this happen to us? Why don’t cows slip out of the grip of milk maids and fly over the moon?”

“I don’t know,” says our hero Copernicus. “I just know what the data suggests. We are orbiting around the sun. I can’t explain it. I just know it is so.”

“So,” continues his opponent, “you have no explanation? You make no attempt to account for the simple fact of centrifugal force? You just want us to believe something that even you don’t understand?”


Not much of a debate. On the one hand we have ants without opposable thumbs obviously unable to keep their grip on a rock in orbit, a phenomenon that would suggest that we should be observing panicked cows floating off into space if Copernicus was right. And on the other hand we have someone arguing that the data on the movement of planets fits better if we assume that it is the sun and the not the earth that is stationary, if we assume that we’re hurtling through space at about a thousand miles an hour. Preposterous.

It took an Enlightenment thinker – the Enlightenment thinker – to explain why. Isaac Newton solved two problems with one universal law. It is tempting to think – reasonable to suspect – that the explanation for our circling the sun would be different from the explanation of why it is not impossible to find our car in the morning, uncertain as to where it has spun off through centrifugal force. Newton sees a falling apple and realizes that it is pulled by the same force as the earth. Gravity is the universal force that explains why cows don’t fly and the earth does. Newton added laws – a theory – to observations and facts.

Newton gave the lovers of facts a set of laws that made sense of their facts.

09 August 2010

Love is Ridiculous

This is an excerpt of a toast I gave yesterday. (Or, more accurately, what I thought I might have said.)

No one likes to admit this - particularly at weddings - but love is ridiculous. It is inconvenient. It is demanding. It makes you lose sleep and makes you think it is a privilege to do freely what no stranger could ever convince you to do for cash.

Love will end badly. That’s a given. And it does end. Even if you make it to the death do us part, one person has to … well, there is no graceful exit from love. You’d have to be a fool to say yes to love when it shows up at your door.

Actually, it doesn’t really show up at your door, like a package from UPS. It’s more like a baby crying in the middle of the night that you suddenly have to get up to tend. And one way it is like a crying baby is that you don’t respond because you think it’s convenient; you respond because not responding to love and all its consequent complications is to choose to be less human. You have to be foolish to answer love's cry but you have to be inhuman not to.

People have this belief that love makes you happier. They are not mistaken. It’s true, but it is only part of the story. Love doesn’t just make you more happy – it makes you more sad. It does make you more content but it also makes you more frustrated. Love is just like life only more so. Sure we choose love partly because it makes us happier. Mostly, though, we choose love because it makes us feel more alive.

Simply to be alive is to be inconvenienced. Think how much time we spend getting places, eating, sleeping, cleaning up … So, it sort of follows that if you are going to be more alive, you are going to be more inconvenienced. Love is ridiculous, demanding, inconvenient, unreasonable, and absurd. Which is to say, love is like life only more so.

It's also true that love is something that both happens to you and that you create. It is universal and also incredibly unique.

What is Stendhal’s line? "Heloise speaks to you of love and some ass speaks to you of his love, don’t you sense that these two things have nothing but the word in common?"

Two people can pretty quickly agree that they’re in love. It takes the rest of the relationship to define just what they both meant by that.

I think that when people fall in love, what they fall into is universal – the obsession, the delight, the stalking. But from there, what each couple creates is unique. And I think it mostly comes out of a dialogue. “Sure, you said that we were in love. But what did you mean by that,” is something we continually find ourselves asking when our mate does or says something unexpected. And it’s not a bad thing that we’re surprised. It just means that forgetting to engage in dialogue does to love what forgetting to water does to plants. Keep talking.

06 August 2010


"Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes."
-Walt Whitman

Resolution stops the creative process so it is probably a good thing that we are forced to play referee over the contradictions that we are.

We're a curious amalgam of bowels and brains, soul and scrotum, a spiritual being continually reminded that we're really just animals and vice versa. (Hm. It just occurs to me that the vice might actually be vice and the versa might be scripture. More creative tension.)

Humor seems the only resolution to living our life managing the war between such odd and contradictory roommates as we house within us.

04 August 2010

The Use of Bad Language & Nation-Building

"Wisdom begins with a definition of terms."
- Socrates

Joe Biden got a lot of flack awhile ago for using some coarse language that was picked up by the mic. In one way, however, he avoids the bad language that seems to pervade our media and politics.

Our single biggest policy mistake in the last decade has seemed to stem from a confusion of nation-building (which we always say we're doing) and state-building (which is what we're attempting in Iraq and Afghanistan).

We had some success helping to re-build states within nations after WWII (in Germany and Japan) and let that give us confidence that we could build nations within states after 9-11. Biden seems to me the person most clear that those two are distinctly different missions with timelines that differ by orders of magnitude.

Article here.

02 August 2010

Well This is Just Random

I might have the start of a new rap song: Al Gore got rhythm like an algorithm. The chorus would just have to have a line like, "The man's so hot that the planet's heating up," and "Put your hands in the air / there's carbon up there!" Obviously, the robot dance will be featured prominently. If you know a good Al Gore look alike (or Al Gore) and a person with a drum machine and a person who can play bass and a person who can rap and a person who can write lyrics and music ... well, I would appreciate you pointing them in my direction.

Channel surfing here in hotel, it becomes obvious that there is, at best, only a loose correlation between the a show's ability to get your attention and then do anything with it.

Curiously, entertaining TV can be educational and vice versa. CNN show with Anderson Cooper featured a debate with some guy who was arguing that a constitutional amendment was "unconstitutional." I'm sorry but that just seems to prove the point that you can be so dumb that you you've gone full cycle and are actually brilliant.

So today the market jumps. Last week it skipped. Before that it fell. My retirement is being entrusted to an entity that seems about serious as a 1st grader on the playground. I can imagine the conversation when I'm in my 60s.
Me: Where's my retirement money?
The market, fidgeting and playing with its gum: I don't know.
Me, incredulous: You don't know?
The market, looking over its shoulder, obviously distracted: No.
Me: Weren't you supposed to be watching it?
The market, now running off to play, hollering over its shoulder: I don't know.

01 August 2010

Women Priest Wandering Around Right Here in San Diego

Few people know that the Bible is full of transcription errors. Christians don't believe it and non-Christians don't care, but through the centuries in which completing a copy of the Bible meant a monk's career was finally over, errors did get perpetuated.

Scholars can compare the earliest known copies of various books in the Bible to determine what changed. One curious thing that they've found is that Paul's very clear instruction for a woman to remain quiet in church (presumably the real basis for opposition to female priests) was inserted sometime in the 4th or 5th century. Earlier versions do not have this. The Church decided to silence women but they can't blame it - directly - on Paul.

Last month, the Catholic Church listed the ordination of females along with pedophilia as "grave crimes," revealing one possible reason that they've had such trouble cooperating with local police in past matters of priestly "misconduct." One would have to think that this would make pedophiles feel pretty good about themselves.

Yesterday, here in San Diego county, local Catholics ordained a female priest. Read about it here. And, excerpt:

Congregation ordains Catholic female pastor

Mary Magdalene Apostle Catholic Community ordained a female pastor Saturday, risking excommunication despite assertions that it represents the true roots of Roman Catholicism.

Nancy Corran was ordained by roughly 150 parishioners rather than a bishop. The ceremony at a rented church in Serra Mesa hearkened back to ancient communities that called forth and ordained women, some religious scholars said.

Associate Pastor the Rev. Rod Stephens opened the evening with a warning: Any woman attempting to be ordained, or anyone who ordains a woman is automatically excommunicated. “Right on!” one woman cried out.

The ordination of Corran, 37, dramatically revealed the state of moral disorder in the Vatican, Pastor Rev. Jane Via said.

“Tonight, we claim the priesthood of believers for all the baptized,” said Via, the county’s first female priest. “We claim the ability and authority to govern ourselves on behalf of the whole church.”

No matter how badly your week has gone, you can take consolation in this: you were born onto a fascinating planet.