Saturday, November 29, 2008

Computational Calculus

I've been slowly collecting math widgets.  My collection includes:
Calculus I DVD
Calculus II DVD
Mathematics for Finance
Sage 3.2 vmware appliance
After I tackle calc I'll move on to differential equations and numerical methods.  Then maybe I'll tackle philosophy again.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Came across, a venture in part from Howard Lindzon of wallstrip fame. It's an interesting concept, taking someone else's app, twitter an building a website (business?) around it for your own gain. I like the concept, though I think for the most part it's one of these get an idea up and runnig for a few ten grands and then find someone to buy it. It's easy for him since he knows so many people with deep pockets, but the idea is interesting anyway.

Sponge Bob Macy's Parade

Sponge Bob Macy's Parade, originally uploaded by Vidaschi.

Went to the parade this year. It was freezing cold. Technically, it wasn't freezing, but when we got there at 6:00AM it was 39 F. By parade time it was a balmy 41 F. The only problem was we were in the shade and there was a constant 5-10 mph breeze blowing into our faces. We were right on the parade route so there weren't any people in front of us to sheild us from the wind.
After 2 hours of this my younger daughter had had enough and said she wanted to go home and didn't care about the parade. Fortunately my brother came and was able to take her for a walk and find a place for her to warm up. By the time the parade started she was all smiles. The parade was pretty uneventful. It was fun and totally a NY thing to do, but nothing out of the ordinary happened. My older daughter got to see one of the cast members of Wicked in the parade and she is still riding high from that. Other than that, we are all warm again and full with turkey. I don't think we are going to go next year unless it's going to be 65 F like it was in 2006.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Amazon found a winner with the Kindle

I think the Kindle is one of the stupidest things I have ever seen.  I've seen people on the subway reading their kindle and it looks so abnormal that I can't imagine that I'd ever own one of my own.  That doesn't mean that it won't be wildly successful.  It reminds me of a laptop sized Palm III.  So the Palm sucks now, but it's idea has lived on in the smart phone (something else I don't have...can't afford).  So I prefer audio books to kindle books, but you wouldn't know that, because my el-cheapo SanDisk mp3 player doesn't play videos and you'd never know that I have a dozen books on it.  It just doesn't look cool.  It has no bling.  The Kindle, however does.  The Kindle is a status symbol.  You can whip out your Kindle and people immediately think, wow this person reads books.  They must be smart...just as the person who displays prominently their white earbuds and ipod, they are cool because they listen to cool music.  Little do you know that they are jamming to REO Speedwagon.  So the Kindle is another Ipod which is another Iphone, which is another BMW.  Simply a status symbol.  I gotta get one.  At least after I shed my spare tire.  That is a prole symbol that I've been plagued with ever since I had kids, but I'll leave that for another day.

Disney On Ice

I took my kids to Disney on Ice with my daughter's Brownie Troop last night.  We saw it at the Izod Center in Rutherford, NJ.  It's only 10 minutes from my house so getting there was a breeze.  Why I would want to go there is another story.  Anyway, I brought Archie and Anais and they had a good time.  The show was fine even though we were surrounded by droves of annoying, screaming kids.  My favorite part was the lion king bit.  Of course, with my survival of the fittest kick, lions are especially interesting to me.  This show was no exception.  Being the alpha-male is such a powerful position.  It really defines everything.  Why anything happens can usually be traced back to the alpha-male.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Let's Make a Deal

Here's a marketing exercise.  Go to a website that sells a specialized service or product; any random website will do.  Now click around, look at the pictures and colors.  Read the headlines and text.  Then decide if you would buy something from them.  Good.  It is a yes or no answer.  Now go to your website and do the same.  If the answer isn't yes, then fix whatever you have to to make it a yes.  Do this today.

Before the Internet

I bought a good book a few months ago on Amazon.  It's a used textbook from the 90's on sales management.  One reason that I like it is because it predates the Internet bubble.  It mentions the Internet and new technology and that those will be important in the future, but it doesn't go into great detail about the web.  The web isn't the alpha and omega.  I like that.  I'm going to start seeking out more business related books that aren't so Internet heavy, i.e., ones that predate the web.  Just like back in 1999 the web has become so yesterday's news.  Business is business and the web is just a piece.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Is Church Unnatural?

Last week I felt good about going to church.  I embraced the feeling of community.  My daughters were singing and enjoying themselves.  It was a crisp winter morning and everything was grand.  The week that followed did not share the same sentiment.  My girls were tired.  I had a bad week at work.  Every charity and their brother was hitting me up for some donation.  My to-do list on the house was looming like a ton of bricks.  In a nutshell, I was crabby.  Maybe I should limit myself to one visit to church a quarter.
Anyway, the gospel was about the time when Jesus/God said that whatever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.  Now that is a tall order.  If that is one of the criteria for getting into Heaven, then Mother Theresa, you must be lonely up there in heaven.  Maybe all those saints that JP2 sent up there was a godsend.  Who hasn't seen a homeless person with their outstretched had and looked the other way?  Who hasn't had someone look at you with pleading eyes looking for some charity while you sit in your car with the windows up waiting for the light to turn green?  It would be impossible to live any any decent size city in the world and live up to this directive.
Is it natural to want to help someone in need?  And holding the door for someone doesn't count or letting someone go first in line or letting a car turn before you do or giving directions to some lost tourist.  I mean if you are walking down the street and see someone lying in the gutter, condition unknown, do you stop and help?  If a beggar comes up to you with an outstretched palm, do you give them money?  If you pass by some homeless person who reeks to high heaven do you take them home, feed them bathe them and give them a change of clothes?  Of course not.  It is not natural.  You simply think to yourself, "That sucks, I'm glad that isn't me."  I'm sure most people have gone out of their way do do some extraordinary work of charity, but the opportunities are there every day. 
If we were that altruistic, it would be a full-time job.  I don't think that it is a bad idea.  One of my early charitable ideas was to enact a rule where everyone had to share half of their wealth everyone they meet.  I guess you could call me a socialist.  But on the other hand, that is just a thought that rarely is put into action so it must not be valid, so it's back to survival of the fittest...gotta get a new slogan (or at least one that I made up).

Blogging for Nothing

For the most part, blogging is kind of lame.  If someone unplugged the internet today and there were no blog posts, who would care?  Probably not many people, myself included.  The problem is that there is very little continuity.  There is very little organization.  Blogging is unproductive and unmanageable.  It's funny because blogging is what got me started with the internet about a dozen years ago.  I used to keep a journal (Henry Reed taught me that boys keep journals and girls keep diaries) and jot down notes and drawings.  Actually I can remember one of the first journals.  One day when I was out riding my bike, I saw a stack of National Geographics on the curb for trash pick up.  It was a nice big stack so I grabbed as many as I could carry and brought them home.  I went back a couple of times and got the rest.  Over the next few weeks I flipped through them looking at the pictures finding some interesting and some not, mostly the former.  I cut out interesting pictures and made some collages.  Others I cut out and pasted into a sketchbook.  I also left room to write stuff since the photos I was drawn to were the ones that were the most shocking.  Natty Geo has lots of these.  Some of the pictures were of starving kids, others were of animals killing prey, others were of angry mobs and innocent victims, and several others depicting carnage and human suffering.  That stuff used to bother me.  Now I accept it.  But those photos and related stories and incidents never cease to spark deep thoughts about existence and struggle.  Several things also spur not so deep thoughts and lots of static.  So that is why I blog.  I don't blog to share anything, but I blog to document my ideas.  I hope that by writing things down, my train of thought can be continuous instead of cyclical as it usuall is.  If there was a better way to blog to do this, then let me know.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Top of the food chain

guitar hero

It is totally obvious now, but I never made the connection before.  The top of the food chain is the rockstar.  Sure there are plenty of cush jobs out there and plenty of lucky bastards or powerful men and women, but the real top of the food chain is the rockstar.  Imagine this, if men were still monkeys and the world was how it was, the Lion had no predators, well maybe the hayenas, but that is another story.

lion breeding

The Lion is an awesome creature.  They live in packs, they sleep most of the day.  The male lion has his females (five or six of them) go out and hunt for him while he lounges around.  Then when it is time to get busy, it is an all day affair.  Now I ask you, who is more like this, Axel Rose or Bill Gates?  Gene Simmons or Mike Bloomberg?  Who can forget Bill Clinton's sexual hangups?  With all that money and power, he couldn't even get a little action on the side without getting impeached.  That ain't king of the anything.

If I could read minds

Everyone knows the old Indian phrase, "Do not judge a man until you have walked a mile in his moccasins."  It is a simple concept, but what really goes on in people's heads?  I really wonder.  I'm driving down the road, on my way to get gas and my mind wanders.  Then I think what would Sting be thinking about right now?  Writing a song? Doing some business transactions, etc?  You'll never be able to climb into someones head because you wouldn't be able to take the you out of them, but wouldn't it be interesting if you could read minds?  In essence, you would have to be able to process two thoughts simultaneously and that would be hard...that would be kind of cool.  You can probably do that.  Imagine two basketball players who play with each other so often that they know what the other will do before they do it.  I remember a time when I played a game of pickup basketball with my younger brother when we were kids.  We used to play all the time so we knew each other's moves.  It surprised me at how easily we could beat the other team because we could anticipate our moves and pass the ball effortlessly without any communication at all, most of the time, not even having to look.  But back to walking in another man's moccasins, it is a nice idea, but survival of the fittest has little room for empathy.

Always be closing

ABC Always Be Closing.  I love that movie.  I wish I could have seen the play.  It's so intense, it is surreal...hyper-real.  I read an article on some tech blog on employees who are closers.  The author was not referring to the Glen Garry type, but a type of employee who, to use somewhat of a simpleton's analogy, one who closes drawers (as opposed to those that leave dresser drawers open) in reference to projects or tasks.  Some employees can start a task and finish it and some people can't.  The type who can are like any wife and the type who can't are like any husband (or at least in the author's point of view).  I suppose that is a fair judgment, but she did not really take into account the manager who is the one assigning the task.  Maybe she was talking about people with adult ADHD and those employees are incapable of staying focused enough to finish anything, but I think she was just talking about the people who get to a certain point and just stop.  I believe that a manager has something to do with this problem.  What is happening is the employee does what they feel they have to and that's about it.  It is the manager who is the person who wants the project done.  The manager is the one who wants it done to their satisfaction.  The employee does it to their satisfaction.  The gap between the two is equivalent to the blood pressure of the manager.  Anyone who has kids should understand this age old problem.  There is a type-a personality and then there's everyone else.  So I believe what the author of the artilce really wants is a employee/husband who is just like them.  Anything less is less.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Blog Spam

How about a whole blog that is spam.  That's what I found when I clicked on a sponsored link and got here

To Hell in a Handbasket

The economy is in a downward spiral. I wonder how bad it will get. There are like 5 million on unemployment in the US. Unemployment is north of 5%. The part that is troubling is that we are on the front end of the crisis. The effects of a stock market crash have yet to materialize (it has for all the people whose nest eggs have been shattered--they'll have to die earlier now). So now you can't get credit. You can only consume what you reap, basically. Now it's not how can you profit in this environment, it's how can you survive. So now every day you hear about thousands of people getting laid off. Companies can't afford to keep employees if their sales are down and their sales will only fall. Barack coming into office will give a boost to the economy, but what a boost it needs. I remember when Jimmy Carter was giving away peanut butter to feed people. Those times are coming back. We grew up thinking we had the right not to be hungry. We are a nation of lazy, overweight couch potatoes who'd rather watch reality TV than live it. Unfortunately food is going to become scarce so get out your claws. It's survival of the fittest.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Stock Market Crash

I won't pretend that I'm a market maven or anything near an expert on stocks, but as a layperson, what causes a stock market crash?

Is it simply the act of people taking money out of the stock market?

Is it the problem that arises when traders sell stocks without any upfront capital?

I thought buying a stock was purchasing an equity stake in a company. The price is a function of demand. But since I don't want to own any stock right now, so the stock market should be zero, right? I remember some ratios like price to book value, price to sales, EBITDA. There must be a point where the price of a stock is undervalued (forget the projected growth rates since they are so inexact).

It's all really quite boggling for someone as simple as me.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

American Indians and the Settlers

nez perce indians
It's hard to imagine that only 200 years ago, Louis and Clark were exploring the Northwest Territory.  Things sure have changed since then.  I remember my first encounter with Indians.  It was at Cal State Long Beach maybe 20 years ago.  I was living on campus and bored one day just wandering around and I ran into a Pow Wow.  It was strange and contrived and at the time I thought it was pathetic...shows how ignorant I was.  I pitied the Indians for the gypsy like atmosphere of the event.  Little did I know that the one to be pitied was me, but that is a different story.

The other night I was paging through one of my kid's library books about the Nez Perce, Chief Joseph and all (I'll pretend I know who that was so you can pretend that you do as well and together we can think we are PC).  One photo stood out in my mind.  It was of a frontier family, gaunt, ghostly, worked to the bone, sitting in front of their covered wagon.  I payed close attention to the picture because I can relate to the father as I am one.  His life looked hard.  His wife and siser-in-law? looked like they could fight off bears if they had to.  The kids looked like you'd something out of a Charles Dickens novel.  Life was hard.

Then I got an idea and paged through the book to find a picture of an Indian family.  I couldn't find a good one, but I suspect they would be a bit happier with life and at peace with nature.  Life was hard for them, too, but I think life had more meaning and they were in harmony with the world.  I wonder if I'm glorifying the Indian way of life, but maybe it should be.  I admit, I'm bad for the environment.

Dreaming of Money

I had a dream last night that I was driving around in an old beater in my old stomping grounds, San Francisco.  In the back seat was my friend, Luis and George Clooney.  Why Clooney?  I don't know.  They were talking together anyway, almost oblivious of me being there.  We drove to my Grandparents' house in the Castro.  It was a nice sunny day.  Kristen, my wife, came out to meet me and told me something she heard on the news.  Part of the billion dollar bailout was that effective immediately, all credit card debt was erased.  For everyone.  Immediately I thought, I should have charged up more, but soon was just happy for the windfall.  Then everyone started coming out into the street to celebrate.  Money sure can bring as happiness...maybe as much as the absence of it brings grief.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Artificial Intelligence

While I don't consider the web "intelligent" nor computers, I don' t doubt they will one day be capable of being on the other end of a conversation.  One concept that intrigues me is that a computer can outlive a human.  Does that imply that I believe computers are alive?  Sorry all you linguistic philosophers.  I'm glad I didn't study philosophy or else I probably wouldn't be able to write one sentence without great anguish.  That's probably why Wittgenstein? didn't write down his early philosophical ideas.  He didn't want to write them down until he had perfected it.  Luckily his friend had some dictate their conversations, but I digress. 

Back to computers and longevity.  One day, 500 years from now, though I can't imagine that humans haven't died off by then, but maybe that is my point.  One day, 500 years from now, a Pentium I, running some archaic OS with a Lisp interpreter or something in a virtual machine that sits on a virtual node on a snapshot of the web--that computer can tell it's friends that it was around when the internet was born.  It's logs will show remnants of the early social networking websites and applets.  My point is that this lowly computer could outlive us all.  Meanwhile with each generation of humans, we each start from scratch, dumb as doorknobs.  There are no exceptions.  A baby born today is as dumb as a baby born 10,000 years ago.  Evolution hasn't given us any more knowledge, even though we try to pass it along as expeditiously as possible.

So as humans get old and die and are replaced by helpless little animals, machines are getting smarter by the minute.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Went squashing last night.  Wasn't as pathetic as I was two weeks ago as I didn't whiff the ball nearly as much.  When I'm so tired from running, I can't get into position to strike the ball solidly and I usually end up missing it or flubbing it or is squash terms, a loose shot.  I'm improving quickly though.  Boris is giving me pointers and it helps.  I can get one or two points a game now when the first time we played, I got something like 5 points in 45 minutes of playing.  I'm not nearly as sore as I was last time so maybe there's hope.  I've also found a lot of useful videos on youtube as well, but as I wrote before, you only learn by trying, not by watching videos.

Can you teach anyone anything?

Descartes in 90 mintues
I've been reading Paul Strathern's interpretations of the great philosophers's writings and teachings along with bios of their lives. It only opens up more questions which brings me to the conclusion that philosophy is wack.

Can you really teach anyone anything? I say no. You can't teach someone how to talk or write or play squash. You can only show someone how to play and the only way they learn is to try it themselves...or can you. I recall a writing experiment from grade school where we were to write out instructions for doing some task. Then we'd read it to the class and see if they understand what we are talking about. But say that someone else simply memorized the steps that were told to them. Would you say they know how to do x?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Healing Muscles

Figured out what was wrong with my legs. I have been running at a slight incline on my treadmill, mostly because it shakes less at a 2 or 3 degree incline and makes less noise. What happened is my legs have been conditioned to running uphills-short stride. So when I'm playing soccer and need to sprint, I need to stretch out my legs and those muscles are not toned and then cramp up...and h-u-r-t. Today I switched the treadmill around so I'm running at a slight downhill incline. I really feel my muscles being stretched. It actually hurts, but in a good way. My cardio is kicking back in, so the run was easy. Getting to know my body again was almost fun...almost. Tonight I'm going to try to play a few games of squash to see if my legs still work.

What happens when we organize?

Not sure how to do trackbacks, but this is a note I wanted to leave on Seth's Blog about what happens when we organize. He talks about how if shoppers are disgusted at how much energy a store might waste then they should organize to make things happen, like conservation. It's nice in principle, but the same issue came up in NYC last year, partly motivated by the frequent power outages in the summer. The motivation Bloomberg came up with is to fine the shops. Hurt the retailer from the top down, not by boycotts or strikes. I'm not saying that unions don't work, but they need real leaders to motivate people who have much different priorities. To align enough people to your goals to do something like enforce moral guidelines on someone else is a lot of work. Usually those people are busy making money.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Why Does the Stock Market Need to be Real-Time?

Does John Q. Public even know why there is an NYSE?  I didn't really know until a few years ago.  I just figured it was a way to gauge the economy or something like that. Stock prices seemed pretty arbitrary as far as I could tell.  Then I learned about the different types of indexes (price weighted, cap weighted), etc. and started following companies. I forget why, but I once had an assignment in grade school to pick a stock. That's all I remember.

Does the value of a company really change minute by minute?  What would the implications of capitalizing a stock via postal mail?  If I want to own part of a company then I could mail in a request with as much money as I want to invest, then they could send me a receipt.  Does that make sense or am I crazy?  Well the crazy part I know already, but does that seem plausible?

My Legs Hurt...Bad

Last night was our second game of the season.  I'm still reeling from our loss.  We got killed, not because the other team was better than us, but they were in shape and we were not.  Well, I won't speak for everyone, but I definitely was a poor sap.  For the past week I've been running, trying to get my wind and my legs back, but it simply takes time.  Even though I was totally psyched to get on the field, within 5 minutes I had a huge pain in my right thigh.  I could run through the pain, but it really hurt.  I even had a break away at one point and as I was sprinting I almost lost my balance and fell on my face.  I couldn't even run 25 yards.  Now that sucks.  By the end of the game my other thigh was cramping up as well so I sat out the last 5 minutes of the game in excruciating pain.  My leg still feels like there's an apple lodged under my skin but at least I can walk up and down stairs.  Last week I couldn't even do that.  Thank god for anti-inflammatories.  Tomorrow morning I'll hit the treadmill to loosen up my muscles, but it's time to step up my training. 

When the body can't do what the mind wants it to, you just have to accept it.  Last night when I was sitting in a hot bath, recovering from my youthful spirit combined with my old bones, I was wrestling with the idea of "action philosophy" and how the mind can effect bodily functions (like meditation) and could my mind loosen up my thigh muscles just by thinking?  Well no, of course it couldn't just from thinking.  It can because there is a physical connection between the two my theory is intact.  My mantra, still in draft, What would the world be like if no one could think?  Exactly how it is.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Contrarian Investor

Want to know how to make money in the stock market? Whatever I advise, do the opposite. It works every time. It is almost uncanny. I attribute it to beginner's luck. I am naive enough to make predictions about the market. The pro's out there can see me a mile away and the market seems to always go against common sense. The fact of the matter is, the volatility in the market is ruled by traders and that's just what they want...kind of like when a noob sits down a "real" poker table. I don't mind because I play the market from the sidelines, but all I know is that the market is the great humbler.

I follow drug addiction from a former job, but every day I track the big pharma stocks and make assumptions and suppositions about the sector. I'm terrible about predicting movement of the stocks, but I think there is some value in measuring the relative performance of a group of stocks. Somewhere a long time ago I read to go with the strongest stock and drop the weakest. The reasoning behind this is that it's too hard to detect a turn around in a company and you'll lose money until you are right. If you go with the best performing stock, you'll probably fare better. However, when good turns to bad, you have to be very careful. I was watching Bayer all last year and it was performing very well compared with it's peers. However lately it's sucked, big time. I wasn't able to realize the falling trend because of all of the noise with the rest of the group. Merck also was doing good a couple of years ago, but anyone who held onto the stock is praying for a turnaround now. Is it a good time to jump it? We'll, as I said, do the opposite of whatever I say and you'll probably do well.

House of Wittgenstein

house of wittgenstein book cover
Something for my stocking this Christmas?  House of Wittgenstein
Never ended up reading the brothers Addidas story though I had it out of the library for over a month.  My favorite family saga is the House of Mondavi.  That one will be tough to beat.
Wittgenstein video???

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sleep is good

picture of some guy sleeping

Sometimes making life easier is hard work.  Today I slept in.  My mind is kind of slow this morning.  Sometime I used to think that if you have a problem, then sleeping on it can help you solve it.  I read a blog post recently that opposes that view (find link....which is virtually impossible these days), but I passed over it because I didn't have time or any inclination to read it, but whatever it stated, it was probably right.

For the past few years, I've found that through days of prolonged sleep deprivation I get more ideas flowing through my head.  Maybe it's getting my brain revved up, maybe something else, but it is a recurring event.  Wrestle with a problem for days on end and you will come to a conclusion one way or another.  Get a good night's sleep and your body will be well rested, but your mind will be back to square one.

Now this fit's in with my new philosophy that action is everything and thinking is wack.  Get rest.  Do instead of think.  Nothing to figure out as the Tao preaches.  All thoughts should be passed over in silence.  Why are you still reading this?


Need to save this idea for later, but saw a bunch of Saas news bits today, but don't have time to read or try to make any connections:
TODO: consume these articles:
Gotta say, open source is a three legged chair right now.  No money, no saas.  Why fund something to give it away?  Well, I can't say the exec's shouldn't be doing this already instead of living in billion dollar homes, but that's a socialist idea and nobody likes to hear that.  But to the point, if there is a model (say open source) that sounds so good, but it is heavily dependent on funding.  I remember doing a research bit on a drug company and it's biggest drug.  Take that away and what happens?  You can imagine.  This must be a common occurance....of course it is.  But everyone turns a blind eye to it while things are good.  It's only when things are bad do people think they have to analyze things.  I'm sure the housing and banking industries were as unstable as they appeared now.  It's easier to just assume a cycle is a trend, but what can you do?

Google Reader Feeds

I would not say that I'm an early adopter or a late adopter, but kind of late early adopter.  I like all of the web stuff and gadgets and all that geeky stuff, but my finances prohibit me from getting anything cool and new like a smart phone or iphone (see I don't even know how to spell it); I send no more than a dozen text messages a month; I was a NetZero subscriber for way too long, I've never bought a computer that doesn't have specs that are well over a year behind what's considered good, etc.  However, I bought a GPS when they were $1000+, I taught myself how to code in HTML way back in 1994, I have a Nikin D80, I've had a blog for over 10 years, I listen to audiobooks (not on an Ipod), I have 43 connections on LinkedIn, etc.  It's a mash up of the old and new.  I guess I'll pick something up if it meets certain critera, of which I won't really bother myself with here.

Anyway, I've been using an RSS reader lately because finally I figured out how (it's easy as reading email).  Here's a list of my subscriptions:

192 to Nutley:

Alexander Pruss's Blog Tech Trader Daily - Barron's Online
FUTURISTIC INVESTING | George Soros on the Web
How to Change the World
N Train to Astoria
POPSUGAR -- Insanely addictive.
Seeking Alpha Editors' Picks stocks
Seth's Blog
Softomic Blog
The Austrian Economists
The Forrester Blog For Interactive Marketing Professionals
Total Leadership Blog a blog about stocks
Uploads from Vidaschi
writing | ben fry
Yahoo! Finance: Top Stories

It's almost like, well it is, subscribing to websites like subscribing to magazines.  I can usually go through all my feeds in 5 minutes a couple of times a day.  If I miss a day then I can simply skip headlines just as well.  That's funny because what you think is news is just fluff since if it's a week old, it doesn't seem relevant anymore.  Now if you are looking for things that are more specific, you can use Google Alerts.  I like that one a lot.  In another post, I'll publish my keyword searches.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Running Sucks

homerI went for a run this morning.  I'm slowly getting in shape so I'm not sucking wind like a fat kid with asthma when I play indoor soccer on Thursday nights.  Last Thursday was our first game.  I was pretty pathetic, mainly because I looked like a pudgy, gray haired, old guy who was totally out of his element, which I was.  I'm a decent soccer player when I'm not out of breath.  The other team was pretty good and looked like they played together for a while.  I'm the new guy on my team so I have a lot of ground to make up if I want to contribute in any meaningful way.  So four days a week, sometime around 6:00 am, I hit the treadmill.  It's a lonely place to be, but also one where ideas come to me.  Nothing really did today, probably because my head was screaming at me after 5 minutes to step off the damn thing and get back to work.  Oh, the urge was so tempting,  I could have easily just gone to bed and caught another hour of sleep before the kids needed to get up, but no.  I had to finish my run.  It must have been 5 or 6 times that my finger was on the stop button, but I never pressed it. I let the machine take me the full course of the workout.  I knew that the feeling of accomplishment was going to outweigh the feeling of throwing in the towel.  I was right.
Tomorrow I have another appointment with the machine of pain.

Monday, November 10, 2008

We Need Dylan, not the Jonas Brothers

I can't help but feel a little empowered having helped elect a black man to the presidency.  I feel that the times are changing, and finally for the better.  I'm raising a family and it isn't easy.  It never was and probably never will be.  That's just the nature of life in this complex world where we live.  It is starting with my little piece of the world, but I can feel that all the things that are wrong with the planet, anyone's short-list probably has a few dozen items, are within reach.  I don't think that the winner-take-all culture that has emerged from the last decade is sustainable.  We are sure feeling it now.  However, I still have the feeling that change is in the air.  What change it is, is in our hands.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Is the Internet a Superorganism?


I recently came across Kevin Kelly's blog about the Internet as a Superorganism.  I can't believe how long the essay was in addition to the extent of the comments.  While I think trying to prove or disprove such a concept is an exercise in how to waste time, I think that Kelly will surely put the effort to good use and write a book about it and pull in a decent paycheck from his publisher.

While I don't think the internet will ever be studied in biology class, not now or ever, I do subscribe to the idea of superorganisms.  I can see how the earth itself could be considered a superorganism.  Since the internet is part of the Earth, it is definitely "one part" of a superorganism.  That brings up a powerful concept.  If the Earth is a superorgansm (that is a big if since I make no assumption that it is or is not such a thing, so all of this is simply childish fantasy), the what part does humankind play?  Man (women, I'll spare you from this accusation, though you are partially to blame) is the cancer of the world.  It is undeniable that the earth, without man, could thrive indefinitely (at least as far as we can project).  But as it it plainly obvious, man is systematically breaking down the natural order of things that will in effect bring an end to the world as a harmonious, self-sustaining, thriving, superorgainism.

reduce reuse recycle

I wonder if there is hope for the world.  Man is its own worst enemy.  We extract natural resources and convert it into endless tons of non-biodegradable waste.  Surely we also have the capacity to heal the world.  Let's hope we are not so shortsighted that we don't change before it is too late.  One bright spot is that, in a survey, I think it was done by, the main concern of university students is the environment, not the economy.  Come to think of it, that was one of mine, as well.  It isn't until you graduate and try to buy a house when you realize the economy is stacked against you.  Well I'll take this as a reminder of what's important.  Again, I must remind myself that world peace and a green planet are more important than the economy, no matter what the newspapers and other media like to think...I still think the Baby Boomers who love drugs (Viagra, Lipitor, Norvasc, et al.) and high real estate prices are somewhat to blame.  Our generations ignorance and blind eyes are also at fault.  Forget the Internet superorganism, we have to worry about the planet.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Layoff Report

Here it is.  Layoffs are everywhere you look.

Markets are braced for more hemorrhaging of jobs, with a Friday employment report expected to record 200,00 more jobs vaporized in October. This would push the jobless rate up two—tenths of a point to 6.3 percent.

Wall Street, Banks, Financial Crisis, Unemployment

"Job losses are now likely to run around 150k to 200k per month, with a few whopping declines now and then," Tony Crescenzi, chief bond market strategist for Miller Tabak & Co. LLC wrote in a research note Thursday. Friday's employment report will show job losses of at least 200,000, and could go as high as 250,000.

The private sector registered a larger—than—expected loss of 157,000 jobs last month, according to a report released Wednesday by payroll giant Automatic Data Processing [ADP 35.43 1.11 (+3.23%) ]and consultancy Macroeconomic Advisers.

The bad news comes after planned layoffs surged to their highest in nearly five years during October, with cuts in the financial and auto sectors leading the charge, according to a report from outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Job cuts announced in October totaled 112,884, up 19 percent from September, the report said, citing evidence of widespread economic malaise as troubles that began in housing and banking infect the rest of the economy.

ADP also said it revised the number of jobs lost in September to 26,000 from the originally reported loss of 8,000.

Here's a rundown of some of the recently announced job cuts: (source: Reuters, with CNBC staff):

* Fidelity Investments will start laying off about 2.9 percent of its global workforce later this month—affecting 1,288 workers in the first round from a workforce of 44,4000—and plans to trim more workers early next year.

* Toy maker Mattel Inc. [MAT 14.89 0.37 (+2.55%) ] says it is cutting some 1,000 positions worldwide in response to the ongoing economic downturn. The El Segundo-based company says the positions amount to 3 percent of the company's worldwide workforce and will reduce its professional and management staff by 8 percent. Cuts will come from a combination of layoffs, attrition and retirements, the company said.

* Goldman Sachs [GS 77.78 -2.94 (-3.64%) ] notified roughly 3,200 employees this week that they have been laid off, part of previously reported plans to slash 10 percent of the firm's global work force. The move comes after laying off hundreds of support staff and junior bankers in June. The company had a record 32,569 employees in August and the latest cuts reduce headcount to the lowest since 2006.

* At Merrill Lynch [MER 16.75 0.52 (+3.2%) ], 10,000 employees could be jettisoned as a result of the merger with Bank of America [BAC 20.49 0.37 (+1.84%) ].

* Bank of America, the second-largest U.S. bank by assets said in June it expected to eliminate about 7,500 jobs over the next two years after the completion of its acquisition of Countrywide Financial Corp, the largest U.S. mortgage lender.

* Barclay's [BCS 12.45 0.87 (+7.51%) ] plans to cut about 3,000 jobs as it brings Lehman Brothers into its fold. Lehman, which filed for bankruptcy last month, had 26,000 employees. About 10,000 have been given jobs until at least the end of the year.

* The lack of merger and acquisitions and initial public offerings is hitting Morgan Stanley [MS 15.98 0.59 (+3.83%) ] hard. The U.S. investment bank said on July 31 it was finished cutting jobs, having slashed 4,800 jobs in the past year but some analysts expect Morgan could lay off 15 percent of its work force.

* Even the more stable JPMorgan Chase [JPM 37.75 -0.51 (-1.33%) ] is looking at cutting at least 10 percent and maybe 15 percent of its workforce. It has over 180,000 employees globally, including 25,000 in investment banking.

* Citigroup [C 11.82 0.30 (+2.6%) ] cut 11,000 jobs during their third quarter, which brought the total number of jobs cuts in 2008 to 23,000. Citigroup also is drawing up lists of employees in a division including investment banking who will be let go in another round of layoffs, people with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters. The layoffs are part of Citigroup's previously announced plans to reduce headcount by about 9,100 across the company by next October.

* Wachovia [WB 5.57 0.19 (+3.53%) ], said in August it would cut 6,950 jobs, 600 more than it had previously disclosed.

* UBS [UBS 14.99 0.48 (+3.31%) ] said at the beginning of October it would cut another 2,000 jobs at its troubled investment bank. The job losses come on top of 7,000 jobs already cut, about 4,100 of which were in investment banking positions cut in the past year. The bank will have reduced its headcount by more than 10 percent to under 80,000.

* Credit Suisse [CSGKF 32.0 1.25 (+4.07%) ] has axed more than 1,500 jobs, the majority in investment banking in the last year since 2007, and on Tuesday it said it would cut 500 more jobs.

* HSBC [HBCYF 11.65 0.15 (+1.3%) ] said late last month it was cutting 1,100 jobs in its investment banking operation, or 4 percent of the workforce.

* Commerzbank [CBK.DE Unavailable () ] announced its plan to cut 9,000 jobs in the wake of its agreement to purchase Dresdner Bank from Allianz [AZ 8.60 1.02 (+13.46%) ]. About 2,500 jobs of the 9,000 cuts will be outside Germany.

* UniCredit [UNCFF 2.7 -0.10 (-3.57%) ], Europe's fourth-largest bank said in June it would shed 9,000 posts out of 100,000 in Germany, Austria and its domestic base Italy.

* First American [FAF 23.05 3.54 (+18.14%) ], the largest U.S. title insurer, by reported revenue said last month it cut 1,250 jobs in the third quarter, bringing the total for the year to about 2,950, or 8 percent of its workforce. It has cut roughly 6,500 jobs since the first quarter of 2007.

* National City Corp [FAF 23.05 3.54 (+18.14%) ] said last week it planned to reduce 4,000 jobs, or 14 percent of its workforce, over three years to save $500 million to $600 million annually by 2011.

* Computer maker Dell [DELL 12.55 0.52 (+4.32%) ], which is nearing the end of nearly 9,000 job cuts, has asked employees to consider taking up to five days of unpaid vacation, is offering voluntary severance packages and has instituted a global hiring freeze.

* Nissan [NSANF 10.9 --- UNCH (0) ] announced layoffs affecting 2,500 salaried jobs overseas and 1,000 temporary posts in Japan amid plans to cut vehicle productions globally.

* Privately held Chrysler said it was cutting about 5,000 salaried employees. Earlier in the week, it said was slashing 1,825 jobs as the result of plant closings.

* Money manager Janus Capital [JNS 9.87 0.65 (+7.05%) ] said it would cut 9 percent of its staff a day after rival AllianceBernstein said it would make unprecedented job cuts.

* Xerox [XRX 7.32 0.05 (+0.69%) ] announced job cuts of 5 percent, or 3,000 positions, due to a "tough business environment."

* Mining equipment maker Terex [TEX 15.04 0.57 (+3.94%) ] said it would lay off hundreds of workers and suspend its share buyback program to preserve cash.

* Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide [HOT 18.94 0.18 (+0.96%) ] said it plans to cut an unspecified number of jobs to offset slowing travel demand.

* Computer systems vendor Agilysys [AGYS 3.80 0.16 (+4.4%) ] cut three senior management positions and is consolidating headquarters in Ohio.

* Merck [MRK 28.92 1.06 (+3.8%) ] announced plans on Wednesday to cut 12 percent of its workforce, citing a need to change its business model in order to survive.

* Fidelity National Financial [FNF 11.23 2.88 (+34.49%) ], which controls one of the largest U.S. title insurers, announced 1,000 job cuts, office closings, a 10 percent pay cut and a 50 percent dividend cut, which comes on top of 1,600 job eliminations in the April-to-June period.

* Biotechnology company Maxygen [MAXY 4.66 0.23 (+5.19%) ] plans to cut nearly 30 percent of its workforce and explore strategic options due to the current financial environment

* Popular Inc. [BPOP 6.90 0.11 (+1.62%) ], parent of Banco Popular, is cutting 600 positions and more than a quarter of its branches in the United States.

* General Motors [GM 4.36 -0.44 (-9.17%) ], which previously said it would reduce salaried employment costs by 20 percent, reportedly plans more layoffs than expected in its salaried and contract workforce. GM also said it is reducing some employee benefits, including 401 k contributions and other programs.

Correction: And earlier version of this article said United Parcel Service sees layoffs in 2009 as customers need less shipping due to cutbacks on holiday gift purchases. The company said they are not projecting layoffs.


In my world of thoughtlessness, a jazz musician is definitely a revered profession.  Anything where feeling meets action, which includes everything according to Hume, but in my world, understanding must be immediately provable/actionable.

The Ruminating Runner

This morning I had a good session running on the treadmill.  I also had a good session in my head...I'll never forget the saying that if you think a half hour of running is boring it's because you can't bear to spend a half hour with you.

Here's what I was thinking about (and managed to scribble on a pad of paper):
  1. If you could, you would.
  2. What's stopping you...internal LOC
  3. You know your potential already
  4. Are you doing or waiting?
  5. Socrates needed to die.
My thought process was that there is no such thing as potential, because if you die then what of the potential.  I say it was never there to begin with since it could not be shown.  Would John Lennon have written another song if he wasn't murdered?  Maybe yes maybe no.  Maybe it would have sucked, maybe it would have been the best ever.  These are all futures that cannot exist because we don't know what was going on inside of his head aside from his actions.  His actions told us only what he did.  If he could have written a better song, he would have.  For these reasons it is not a good idea to wait around thinking and pondering all day.  Socrates was executed to make a point.  There is no place for the thinker in the world, only the doer.  If Socrates had lived, maybe he would have made this connection...thoughts are only good if they lead to action.  Action without thought is the purest.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Is the Dow Really Down over 4,000 YTD?

It is hard to imagine, but the DOW is down 4,375 on the year. So much for the blue chips. Ouch!

Welcome to Risk

If anyone feels jaded about the falling stock market and the rising layoffs, foreclosures, national debt, the cost of commodities, you name it; whatever losses you feel now are most likely because you aren't considering the element of risk.  Any financial action on our part has an element of risk whether it be buying a house, selling a house, transferring jobs, buying a new car, starting up your own company, becoming a real estate broker, becoming a mortgage broker.  Yes, the times were good.  Anyone who had a house thought they were Warren Buffett.  Yes, everything keeps going up...until it goes down, that is.  I bought a house very near the peak in the housing market bubble.  Yes, I knew it was risky.  I knew I could lose my job (which I did), I knew it could get hard to survive (which it did), but I also knew that the seemingly endless riches that the Carlton Sheets of the world would not last.  Maybe our lives are simply more liquid than ever.  Perhaps we should have concrete plans to build equity, but that's where the art of investing comes into play.  It is easy to make money in the stock market.  However it is even easier to lost money.  Take the Dow.  At this very moment it is at 8,868.  It has lost 10% in the past two days.  It is down 33% on the  year, so it can only go up, right?  Well, in the long term, hopefully yes.  Same with housing prices.  So here's the deal.  Anyone you know (and I'm sure everyone knows a few lucky bastards), who sold a house or happened to work for Microsoft or Dell or Google and cashed out at the peak of the market (or anywhere near), must seem like they are financial geniuses.  We all know the truth.  They are the black swans.  However, there are those who honestly did know that the prices were a good place to cash out.  It doesn't matter that the prices were inflated or real, but they knew when to sell.  They know that any money they have invested is at risk of loss.  So when you reach your financial goals, reevaluate your investments and don't get too greedy.  If your stock is up 30%, then it is a good time to take some profits off the table.  If your home value is up 30% then sell it?  Well, if it's an investment property.  If you are working for a company that went IPO and your stock is soaring?  The day you are vested, take out all you can and run for the hills.  If you don't then risk might come back to bite you.

Significance of the Election of 2008

So another election has come and gone.  There will be a new president in a few months.  Yes, change is good.  Yes this is historic, but isn't every event?  I suppose so, but here are a few reasons that I think this election is a real sign of change, not just empty political promises.

1) A black man has been elected to the Presidency of the United States.  I did not think that was possible.  But let me clarify that point.  I didn't think it was possible in a country run by my father's generation and I stand by that.  So that means the end of my father's generation is upon us.  As the baby boomers die off, the Gen X'ers have to take the lead and run the country.  All of us thought we were so smart and we would do a lot of things differently.  Well here's the chance.  Let's hope we don't just slip into our parents' footsteps and blindly think the world will just go on with or without us.  It is up to us to make the future we whined and cried about at college.

So on the agenda:

1) World Peace.  We all want it.  If we are so smart and arrogant, let's do it.
2) World Preservation.  The earth is ours and we can see how easy it is to kill it.  It's going to take generations to bring it back to life and it has to start sometime.  I don't think it is too late.
3) End World Hunger? Eradicate the world of AIDS? Cure Cancer? Not really my goals, but maybe someone else can do it.
4) Return of the middle class.  Hey we all want nice stuff and if we are fair about it, there is plenty to go around.  CEO pay is absolutely devastating to the economy.  Riches to the few so everyone else can drown it debt trying to compete?  No.
5) Universal health care? Yes.
6) Affordable education? Yes.

etc. etc.  There are lots and lots of things that we Gen X'ers think are wrong with the world.  Our younger brother's and sisters (the Gen Y'ers), are smart as hell and willing to work.  There just isn't any place for them under the current regime.  Let's try to do things a little better.  Don't worry Baby Boomers, we care about everyone.

Signs of the time:

Black is the new President.
Goldman is no longer gold.
War is unfashionable.
Smart is in.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Still passing the Popper test

Though I haven't studied him at all (yet), I believe Popper's claim to fame (besides butting heads with Wittgenstein), was to offer the theory that scientific discoveries progress not through validation, but by lack of invalidation.  "I'm right unless you an prove me wrong."  I guess OJ Simpson belongs to this camp.  So it dawned on me last night on the bus ride, however illogical this may sound, that consciousness does not give us the right to go to heaven (hardly an original thought), but it is simply self-awareness of instinct at work. 

For some reason I like to liken humans to lions--have a conversation with a lion on his turf, and you will quickly find out the meaning of life!  Does a lion learn how to hunt and how to take shelter?  Is not a lion an intelligent creature?  I propose that we are no more advanced philosophically than a lion.  The only difference is that when we learn, we can "see" our instincts at work, where a lion cannot, though for all I know, maybe it can.  In fact, let's believe that it can and there is a whole world of lion consciousness that we are unaware of.  What implications would that have?  A lion is a lion because it acts like a lion and makes decisions like a lion.  We are human for like reasons.  Is one human more human because of the difference in thoughts it produces.  Of course not.

What is a world like where nobody thinks?  It is a world exactly like our own.  Exactly.  Does that make me an empiricist?  Hell if I know, but put a label on me and I'm no different than I was a minute ago.  If I figure out how to make a space ship and fly to the stars, it is no different than a lion figuring out a new style of hunting or a zebra figuring out a new way to jink a lion.  It would simply be me adapting to my environment.  I think this is an Ijon Tischy moment.  Lem was so brilliant.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

You Gotta Love Today's Headlines

  • Google Abandons Yahoo Deal? Duh!
  • GSK Trims Sales Force by 1,000? Small potatoes
  • Service Sector Shrinks? Really?
  • Molson Coors Profit Up? Drink up!
  • GMAC Losses Widen? Who's buying cars?
  • Sara Lee Profit Rises? Happiness in the frozen food aisle.
  • Medco Health Profit Up? Why not raise prices?
  • Boeing Delays 787? Again.
  • Time Warner Profit Beats Expectations? Thank God for cable.
  • Sanyo Profit Drops? My old TV will work until Feb.
  • FCC to Probe Verizon? Finally some good news.
  • Ex-BS Exec Now at Fed? There is no justice

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Nothing satisfies the man who is not satisfied with a little

"Nothing satisfies the man who is not satisfied with a little," so said Epicurus. I wonder if that is true? Satisfaction, though seems to breed atrophy or ambivalence. Good thing Socrates was not a student of Epicurus, or he may have never challenged the status quo.

Voting is for Losers

Voting is for losers.  Why do we take the time to pick someone to make (primarily financial) decisions for us?  Do we really think they care about us or are in a better position to know what is best for us?  I don't think so. The only winner in the whole process is the person who is elected.  The rest of us (unless of course we have the favor of the elected official in question) collectively lose.  Ask anyone who ever voted in any election.  For every one person who thinks they got what they wanted as a result of an election, there is someone else who believes they got screwed.  Contrary to pop literature, there is no wisdom in crowds, only large numbers.

For the record I voted this morning party-line votes...and primarily due to peer pressure.

White Oak Pharmacy Wins 2-1

I watched a very exciting soccer match last night. My daughter is on a fifth grade recreational soccer team and her team is in the playoffs. Last week after two overtime periods, and by one penalty kick they managed to beat the worst team in the league. Several boys on the other team ended their season by kicking the ball directly at the goalie. That's something to live with until next year. It doesn't matter how good you were during the season, or how many goals you had, but how you went down in your final act...or that's what I heard about the CEO's who were at the helm at AIG, Lehman Brothers, and Bear Stearns. Again, intention and desire get thrown out the door. When a manager says, "I hate to have to do this, but because of budget cuts we have to let you go." What counts is someone is out of a job. There is no other side to the story. There is but one truth, action. Someone was laid off. Many times, these days it is thousands at a time. That is really quite an incredible notion, but there is absolutely no consolation in understanding the "why" of it all. It just happened. It is what it is.

Back to soccer--Chiara, my daughter, is on a team composed mostly of, if not all fifth graders. The opposing team was made up of primarly sixth graders. Not only that, the sixth grade team went through the season undefeated, to my daughter's team's record of around .500. The other team was heavily favored, but ended up losing. The tears on the other side of the field were as plentiful as the screams of joy on my daugher's side. What can I learn from all this? Just what has been said hundreds of times before...winning really is everything.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Fishing isn't called catching

Read a new quote just it:

As Tuck's Hansen notes, the current market conditions are serving up a reality check -- not just for individual investors but for the biggest names around.

"Fishing isn't called catching, and investing isn't just called making money," Hansen said. "We have to remember that things can go down by a lot."

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Thinking is Wack

Philosophy, as I am learning has deep roots in mathematics.  I never knew this, but Descartes, Spinoza, Wittgenstein, among others were brilliant mathematicians.  Learning that fact even motivated me to dig up my old calculus and differential equations books (really I threw those out with enthusiasm since I skated by with less than stellar grades), so I checked some out of the library and bought a fat calc book for $5 on Amazon so it can sit on my shelf for the next several years collecting dust.  Well, I must admit, another reason for trying to relearn my higher mathematics that I supposedly learned at college was to help me understand another complex subject, algorithms.  In addition, after reading the book Maestro about Alan Greenspan, who I learned liked to do calculus in his spare time, I see that advanced economics is math heavy.  Does that mean that math is the root of all?  Some may argue that it is--God is dead, and all, but I am more inclined to put the subject, Philosophy one level higher.  Along those lines, Economics as well as Art supercede math.  In fact, I'm coming to the conclusion that math is simply a tool, albeit a very useful one, but I'm thinking that there is no truth in math, and based on a previous post, since there is no truth in thinking, only action then--philosophical conjectures based on mathematical (or geometric) proofs or ones baed on reason are utterly devoid of meaning (somehow I don't think I can use that word when talking armchair philosophy), so devoid of use...which brings be to the new idea for the day...intellectuals are only as powerful as the people that act them out.  That's probably one of the poorest written sentences, but to someone who understands what I'm trying so clumsily to say, it is a truism that lifts a veil of superiority over anyone that thinks they are smart...including me, which conclusively states, that to be smart, all you have to do is point out the obvious, and the obvious can only be related to observation, so Thinking is Wack.

When Is Social Networking Really Networking?

Like anything else that is trendy, the Internet experts are thowing around Social Networking like it's a phenomenon bigger than XML.  That's a joke if you didn't know it.  The only way to us "Social Networks" for networking are to measure the results.  How do you measure it?  If the goal of business is to get customers, then simply track how many customers came from social networking sites?  Simple.  If you get customers from Facebook, then your networking by social networking is successful.  If you aren't getting any customers, but simply having fun surfing the net, then it's all social.  The really successful know how to use their networks to their benefit whether it is online or offline.  They get jobs, references, recommendations, advice, help, etc. from their network of contacts.  If you want to start finding success in the same manner, then just learn how to network (not much more than asking people for things).

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Going Insane

Does anyone know what is the opposite of going insane? I mean, can your own mind trigger such an altered mental state on its own? Is the opposite even something that can be thought of, or is some kind of entropy thing?

In the Zone

A friend of mine has published a book where he advocates the practice of awareness to the most basic level. Simply stated, realize what you are doing and why you are doing it, weighing in any factors in your past that might be influencing your actions or decision making ability, such as emotional baggage or fallacies in your logic. While this is one state of thinking, there is another that I can't dismiss. It is the exact opposite of awareness. Though unawareness is probably as accurate term as I'd need, I think that "in the zone" is another state that deserves some consideration. When you are "in the zone" as athletes, public speakers, computer programmers, etc. occasionally self-proclaim, this is a state of pure bliss. You are not thinking, decisions are automated, there is no second guessing, you just do. Now imagine being "in the zone" for a lifetime. I can't see any harm in that. I also can't see a need to go to church in that situation either.

Secret of the Web

If you want to succeed with an Internet business, there is but one challenge to overcome.  Your killer app must simply get people to stay online as long as possible.  That's it.  That is why Google is so successful.  They suck people into the web and keep them there indefinitely.  That's why they bought YouTube.  Now if your killer app will make it easier for you to save time and minimize your time on the web, then your success will be short lived.  I don't think this thought is as transparent as to get rich you have to make a lot of money, but your app should pass this simple test.  Don't try to save people's time--monopolize it!  Then you'll have a killer app.

God is Instinct Gone Awry

Take a man and throw him in the middle of nowhere. I can bet on what he will do. He'll try to find food and shelter. And that's what he'll do for the rest of his life...unless shelter is guaranteed to him. Then he will spend his days searching for and consuming food. Why would he do this? Because it's his instict. It's as basic as waking and sleeping; as predictable as the sun rising in the East and setting in the West. Is there meaning? Sure, why not? But does anything matter aside from conducting daily activities in a manner to sustain life? Not really. If he is strong and swift, he may be an omnivore. If he is weak and frail he may be a vegetarian. If he is nimble he may find a home in the trees. If he is diminutive he may find a burrow in the hollow of a tree. "Who he is" will be determined by his physical attributes. "Why he is" does not change. I am that man. Who I am is because of my physical attributes. Why I am, is the same why a monkey lives in a jungle. It really is that simple. Food and shelter are given. Survival is guaranteed. Survival instincts have drifted into a stagnant mire, withering, mutating and wandering. Eventually God showed up.

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