Sunday, July 26, 2009

La Maja Vestida y La Maja Desnuda

Friday, July 24, 2009

Amazon CEO apologizes for deleting Orwell books

Seriously, I just have to sit here and wait for the world to pass by... Can you even make up headlines like this?

About Jews

500 thousand Jews fought in the Soviet Army in WWII. 200 thousand were killed, among them my grandfather. Yet almost immediately, the Russians accused Jews of running away and not fighting.

A poem by Boris Slutsky, a veteran of WWII (translation mine):

About Jews

Jews don't plant bread,
Jews peddle in their shops,
Jews go bald early,
Jews steal a lot.

Jews are daring people,
They make poor soldiers:
Ivan fights in the trenches,
Avram trades in the co-op.

I heard this since my childhood,
Soon I will be grey completely,
Yet I can't seem to escape them,
The cries - "The Jews! The Jews!"

Having never peddled,
Having never stolen,
Like a disease inside me,
I carry this damned race.

The bullets all missed me,
So that they could say truthfully,
"Jews never got killed!
They all came back alive!"

Where I scoop the NYT...

So, a little while ago I wrote something about high-frequency trading... Now it seems like the NYT caught up with me.

...high-frequency specialists clearly have an edge over typical traders, let alone ordinary investors. The Securities and Exchange Commission says it is examining certain aspects of the strategy.

"This is where all the money is getting made," said William H. Donaldson, former chairman and chief executive of the New York Stock Exchange and today an adviser to a big hedge fund. "If an individual investor doesn't have the means to keep up, they're at a huge disadvantage."

This article is really disturbing. Where does it say that all people have a fundamental right to access the market the same way? That has never been the case! This is why brokers are in business... And the market is always been about asymetrical information - this is why you have winners and losers...

This type of talk makes me forget we are supposed to live in a capitalist country...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Lifeward Ho

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Gates' arrest not adding up

I don't know. The more I read about this story, the less it makes sense to me. I don't know if we'll ever find out the truth, but I suspect that this is what happened.

Despite the fact that Gates is trying to make it a "racial profiling" case, he didn't get arrested for being caught looking like he was breaking into a house. He got arrested for being combative and verbally abusing the officer. That does not look like a case of "racial profiling". I am guessing that this guy has a major chip on his shoulder (whether deserved or not is a different story). He went off on the cop, refused to produce ID, and was provoking him verbally. And he got arrested.

For a balanced view of this story, here is the Cambridge police point of view...

Wouldn't it be cool...

Sometimes I wonder why human beings did not evolve to have the ability to control the body at the micro level. Meaning, there are so many processes that are controlled by the brain automatically and cannot be overruled by conscious will. Obviously, this is how it should be most of the time. We would not want to be always consciously remembering to breathe or swallow or generate hormones. That kind of stuff SHOULD be on autopilot. But I think there should have been a manual override which would allow the conscious brain to control these micro processes should it want to. Imagine being able to send platelets to a specific part of your body to heal better. Or being able to increase the absorption of a drug by temporarily reducing the acidity of your stomach.

Obviously, for most of human history we did not understand how our own body worked and so it was a good design. But now, as we learn more and more about how we work, wouldn't it be cool if we could evolve to direct our own bodies for our own benefit?

Could not resist

R' Michael Broyde on Hirhurim (emphasis mine):

On the 9th of Av, it is prohibited to bathe, anoint, wear leather shoes and have marital relationships…
Indeed, there are numerous Talmudic and post Talmudic sources supporting this understanding of the halacha which makes no distinction between any of these four prohibitions: none are permitted unless one is seriously ill and the violation of the prohibition is part of the cure.
Honey, I am feeling just awful - I know it is Tisha B'Av, but I need to put on some leather, rub you with sweet smelling oils, and give you a good shtup - I think that will make me feel better. That and a hot shower afterwards...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Slavoj Zizek tweeting

Kinda wild to find Zizek on twitter. I find him so scary. He is really intelligent. And yet he really scares me. Most of the stuff I read from him in the popular press, it is almost like he is trying to be shocking, to provoke a reaction.

But part of me wonders if it is not an act; if it is the real deal. I can totally see that. I have stood on the edge of that abyss where you just start reasoning and pretty soon you have demolished everything you hold dear and everything you believe and you wind up staring into nihil.

Monday, July 20, 2009

P-Funk Hydraulic Pump Music Monday

For those of you who were paying attention last week...

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Down in the pits

This is a picture of a traditional trading environment. For thousands of years, if you wanted to buy or sell something, you went to the market and haggled on price. At its simplest, this is what the stock markets and exchanges have always been about. Up until about ten years ago, the normal way to trade was to go to a physical place and make deals. The closer you were to the action, the better it was for your trading. This is why people paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to be on the trading floors. Only a fixed number of people can fit into a room and if you wanted to be one of them, you'd better pay up.

Then came along electronic trading and the world changed. No longer did you need to be on the floor standing next to another person to make a deal. You can be doing it all on a computer. You don't all have to stand in the same room. The doors were blown wide open.

Enter the trading world of 2009. The hot trend is "low-latency" trading. A veritable arms race to have the fastest computer trading systems. Whoever gets to the market quickest wins. Remarkably, despite all the high tech hype, one factor which influences how fast your systems can be is how far away physically they are from the stock market's computer. A simple concept really - if you are 10 feet away, the electrons will get there faster than if you are 10 miles away.
So guess what - people are now paying premium dollar to rent space for their computers as close as possible to the exchanges' computers, literally several feet away.

Perhaps without even realizing it, they have just reverted to the same thing we have been doing for millenia - except instead of people screaming in each other's faces we have computers...

Friday, July 17, 2009

The dogs of war

I have a tendency to say Basenji when I mean Basiji...

Also, thong and throng tend to trip me up. As well as prostate and prostrate...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Techno Music Monday - FIX - Flash

You will listen to techno this morning!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Everything but the Gerbil

In response to my previous post about trans-nasal insertions, BOTH asks - "Are there any special insights that you would like to share?"

I'd like to bring to his attention another type of self inflicted predicament that thankfully I have never had to seek medical attention for. I quote from "Everything but the Gerbil":

The healthy mind naturally struggles to accept the reality of the retained RFO, and the visual evidence accompanying Dr. David W. Munter's e-medicine article, "Foreign Bodies, Rectum" (, may raise more question than answers. The X-ray reveals a lower torso — the outline of a lower spine, hip and pelvic bones — along with what is best explained by the image's caption: "The patient attempted self-removal [of vibrator] with a pair of salad tongs, which also became lodged, resulting in two rectal foreign bodies. Multiple attempts at self-removal are typical in patients with rectal foreign bodies." The image, stupid as it may be, is immortalized, but could it really be called typical?
In a 1986 Surgery magazine report, Drs. David B. Busch and James R. Starling tabulated the RFO's that had been referenced in scholarly works. They found 182 cases. According to their research, the most popular object to emerge was a bottle, cleaning up with thirty-three entries (one with attached rope). Running a respectable second were vibrators, at twenty-three mentions, followed by the vibrator's cousin, the dildo, with fifteen. The last object to achieve double-digit status was the stick/broom handle, with a perfect ten. The remaining melange included virtually everything except a rodent (the gerbil story, according to the journals, is, in fact, myth): a frozen pig's tail, a kangaroo tumor, pool cue ball, snuff box, and a variety of fruits and vegetables, including a plantain (with condom). Perhaps Mark Twain said it best: "Man is the only animal who blushes. Or needs to."

Tweet this

Shoved a damn cherry pit up my nose while I was in deep thought and almost could not get it out. When I was about four, I did something similar and had to go to the doctor.

What the heck is wrong with me?

OK. I got it out.

This really doesn't belong on the blog. It's too bad I hate @Twitter...

Jesus H. Tap Dancing Christ - In Hebrew?

I was watching the James Brown scene from Blues Brothers on YouTube, and for some reason it had Hebrew subtitles.

Apparently "Jesus H. Tap Dancing Christ" is translated to the Holy Tongue as בח'' 'שו המרקד

Anyone out there who can tell me exactly what that means?

Monday, July 06, 2009

Sitting in a giant beach chair while Rome burns?

What an odd photo of the G8 conference...

Funniest Blogpost I've seen in a while - all you iPhone haters...

Funniest post I've read in a while:

John got an iPhone last week and our relationship is in deep peril. As is the future of our country.

He keeps forwarding email crap to me and I'm sure that the only reason that he does it is so that the ridiculous legend at the bottom, "sent from my iPhone", can mock me. He knows that I am insanely jealous and yet he seems to be unable to stop himself. I told him to disable it or I'd disable him, but so far he hasn't. Not only that, when I call him, this is how he responds:

"Answered on my iPhone: Hello."
"Fuck you," I say.
"Insult received on my iPhone," he says.

He also told me that his iPhone gave him a handjob, but I totally doubt it.

Music Monday - Amsterdam Klezmer Band - Sadagora Hot Dub

Truly an awesome song for your next party - klezmer, trance, gypsies, sexy babes groaning in the background!!!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Found a great new blog

Vicki Boykis - she is an awesome writer!

Found a great quote from Umberto Eco on her blog:
When all the archetypes burst in shamelessly, we reach Homeric depths. Two clichés make us laugh. A hundred clichés move us. For we sense dimly that the clichés are talking among themselves, and celebrating a reunion.

I don't know why, but for some reason it reminds me of another quote, by good old Uncle Joe:
One death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.

And Uncle Joe was a very good statistician...

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


I was watching the Disney Channel this evening with my oldest boy and somehow flashed back to 30 years ago when as a kid I first was exposed to American television. What I remember most clearly about the first time is how bewildered I was by commercials. Since I spoke almost no English, I was already at a disadvantage trying to understand most of what I was watching, but with commercials added into the mix, it had become almost insane. What most of us don't think about is that there is no visual cue that a commercial comes up. Just a fade. So you could be watching a Western with cowboys and Indians and the next thing you know Kool-Aid is bursting through a big banner in a park. Psychotic.

Yet somehow people who grow up here naturally figure out what commercials are and they seem as natural to them as they were bizarre to me.

It reminded me of an article I read a while back in the New Yorker about some anthropologists who were showing movies to some remote tribe of Indians in South America. The Indians were completely bewildered by what they saw and they had no idea of how to interact with the movie. For example, they would try to talk to the characters in the movie, or walk up to the screen and try to look around a corner of some building in the picture. Yet you can take a three year old to a movie and they seem to easily understand what is going on...