Tue, 23 May 2006

Drunk Drivers Suck

We were rear-ended in a hit-and-run last night. The driver was apparently drunk. He hit us while we were driving about 35 mph on Washington Blvd in Culver City. We pulled over to the side of the road, and he floored it and took off. I then sped up to get his license plate number. We didn't have to pursue him for very long: he slammed into a parked car a few hundred meters from where he hit us, and we pulled over about 30 feet behind him.

I called the police, and while on hold, the driver got out of his car, and started walking towards us. Not wanting to confront a potentially violent drunk, I pulled in front of him. He got back in in his truck and sped off again.

The police arrived about 10 minutes later to take a report. Since there wasn't any damage to our car other than a little scratched paint and no injuries, the police officer asked if we really wanted to file a report. I wanted to make sure that we filed an official report in case we were needed as witnesses in the event of a subsequent vehicular manslaughter or something. If this guy didn't kill anybody last night, he got very lucky. Leaving the scene of an accident is also a crime, but unfortunately, he probably won't be prosecuted.

Overall, we were lucky not to have been hurt. I just hope the police can get this idiot off the road.

culture | Permanent Link

Sons & Daughters

Here's the video Fred Goss created to sell NBC/Universal on the idea of an improvised sitcom, which eventually turned into Sons & Daughters, the funniest show since Seinfeld, which was recently canceled after airing 10 episodes.

Fred has a blog on MySpace. He's considering doing an internet-distributed show, but it probably won't be Sons & Daughters because it'll probably be hard to scale down from the current 80-person crew/$700k-$1M per episode budget. Whatever he ends up doing, I'm sure it'll be hilarious.

culture | Permanent Link

Fri, 19 May 2006

EU to Print Its Way Out of Inflation?

The EUobserver reports that members of the European Parliament are proposing to print €1 and €2 notes to replace one and two euro coins. They argue that the public doesn't correctly value the coins, and thus, a switch to notes will curb inflation as consumers stop throwing the coins around frivolously. Yeah, that's the cause of inflation. It can't have anything to do with those responsible for actually printing (or minting) the euros or the banks that create money out of thin air.

If the EU wants to get rid of their coins, I'll be happy to exchange each €1 coin for a $1 Federal Reserve Note. Limited Time Offer. While Supplies Last.

Perhaps the US should eliminate the $1 note and make the $2 note the smallest. The latter tends to be overvalued by American consumers.

business | Permanent Link

Naked Shorts

I was forwarded this email:

Date: Wed, 17 May 2006 22:43:49 EDT
From: xxxxxxxxx@aol.com
To: undisclosed-recipients: ;
Subject: If you invest in stocks, listen to this...from Bobby K.

Turn up your volume and set aside about 10 minutes to listen to this. Theres
a crack in the system whereby people can create bullshit shares of stock and
sell it, where in essense creating more shares than there should be and driving
a companies stock down and eventually destroying the company. Ive known about
this for awhile and so have politicians, however, if they tried to fix it,
the entire financial system of the U.S. would collapse.

Ive always said that the stock market crash we saw in 2000 that wiped out
alot of people would be a walk in the park compared to the next one that will
happen. I think within the next 1-3 years the topic of these bullshit "phantom"
shares will be the big one that will be the biggest hit the stock market has
ever seen. Dont paic, just be careful. The stock market is done. The crooks have
made billions in the last 60 years in the stock market and i think the shit
will hit the fan soon. Listen...


I wrote the following response before listening to the audio. I should have guessed that it was the Overstock dude.

The CEO of Overstock.com bitches about naked shorts a lot.  Read
http://jeffmatthewsisnotmakingthisup.blogspot.com/.  Mark Cuban talks
about it on his blog sometimes too.  There was also a 60 minutes story
about it, but it wasn't very good as Leslie Stahl is about as
financially literate as a chihuahua.

While it's fraudulent to sell something that doesn't exist, the
purchaser of a share of stock is the one who would have a complaint if
he were unable to take delivery of said share.

The CEOs who bitch about it are the ones whose compensation is in the
form of stock options.  If they were speaking on behalf of the company,
they should be delighted that people are driving down the stock price.
The company can buy back its shares cheaply enriching the existing

Imagine a company that sells 1,000,000 shares at $10/share during an
IPO.  If short sellers drive down the stock to $1/share, and the company
can buy back all of its shares, it makes $9,000,000 without giving up
any equity (neglecting underwriting fees and the upward movement of the
stock price as the company starts to buy back a lot of shares).

Likewise, if you're a shareholder, and you think the stock is
undervalued at $1, you can buy more stock and wait for the profits to
come rolling in.

If your company isn't making any money, and you expect to make money on
the stock, well, too bad.


business | Permanent Link

Mon, 15 May 2006

Summer Reading List

Greg Mankiw and Arnold Kling have posted suggestions of books for economics undergrads to read at the beach this summer. Since they include mostly books I haven't read, I'll need to update my wishlist.

I added a couple books I thought would be good for the beach in Kling's comments:

In addition to the required readings for Mises University, I'm going to try to get through a bunch of books I've bought recently:

And if I manage to get through all of that, I've got Thomas Sowell's The Quest for Cosmic Justice and one of my inBubbleWrap books, Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything.

economics | Permanent Link

Mon, 01 May 2006

Google and A9

A few days ago, Amazon's A9 replaced their main web search results pane, previously filled with results from Google, with "Windows Live" results. So I changed back my default columns to Google and Wikipedia. Then again this morning, Google was gone and Windows Live was back. But now, the Google results are nowhere to be found.

tech | Permanent Link

The state is that great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else. - Frederic Bastiat