Thursday, March 29, 2012

Istanbul Update

Had dinner last night at a restaurant/super club/night club that looked exactly like some sort of Russian mafia club in a Bond movie. Eurotrash techno music. Groups of Surly mafioso looking dudes each with like four 10 foot tall women, all of whom were flanked by other dudes with earpieces and bulges in their coats.

FLG will say, however, the food was good, the location on the Bosphorus was awesome, and he appreciated that the tradition of the cigarette girl is not yet dead.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Insanity Update

FLG was bad. FLG skipped his workout today. But since he is sick and in Istanbul, he cut himself some slack. Tomorrow he needs to be back on that wagon though.

Friday, March 23, 2012

EU To Invade Tortuga

The European Union has agreed to expand its mission against Somali pirates by allowing military forces to attack land targets as well as those at sea.

Since FLG is sitting in the airport, he figured he'd keep you updated about pirates.


FLG will be here for the next two weeks:

While there he hopes to visit at least one of these as well:

Also, don't be surprised if you hear a news report of a drunken madman on a boat in the Hellespont throwing a spear at the Asian shore.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Shitty Reporting

FLG isn't sure why this popped into his head exactly, but a couple of weeks ago he was listening to a news report about the record level of student loan debt. Okay, fine. FLG gets that. He has a bunch of loans. He even gets this part:
Today’s new college grads are so burdened with student loan debt, they’re putting off key life decisions. They’re moving back in with mom and dad, postponing buying that first new car or getting an apartment.

But then he heard this and lost his shit:
Rick Palacios is a senior research analyst at John Burns Real Estate Consulting. He says in 2009, 50 percent of all existing home sales were to first-timers. Now, it’s about 30 percent -- and dropping. Palacios says that has a ripple effect of its own, on what he calls "move-up buyers."

First, this data point proves precisely fuck all about the effects of student debt. The total student loan debt has reached a peak, but it's not like student loan debt has become a drastically bigger problem in the last three years such that the percentage first-time home buyers would drop so precipitously. Second, the most obvious explanation to anybody who thinks about this for, I dunno, half a second is that there was a FUCKING $8,0000 FIRST-TIME HOME BUYER TAX CREDIT in 2009 and there isn't now.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Great Courses

FLG received The Great Course catalog in the mail. No idea how he got on it. Maybe Foreign Affairs or Economist's list.

Anyway, FLG was very tempted by one entitled Building Great Sentences. But then he saw a set that includes Great Authors of the Western Literary Tradition and Building Great Sentences.

DC Celebrity Sightings

FLG is around 50-50 that he just saw Simon Johnson walking down Wisconsin Ave.

Wait FLG, you say, he's not a celebrity! Well, he is to FLG.

The Role Of Leverage

FLG is watching John Geanakoplos' Theory of Finance course on Yale OCW. He'll probably jump around a bit just to cover things he hasn't already seen, but look at the last two lectures.

FLG will say it again...systematic risk in the financial sector is all about leverage.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

FLG Loathes The Word "Fair"

Say what you want about Fish's recent comments, he gets one thing right -- the entire concept of "fair" sucks balls.

As FLG has written previously:
It is a completely relativistic term. There is no absolute fairness, only what makes people feel negatively is not fair and what makes people feel good is fair.

The desire for fairness is a therapeutic response for the individual invoking it.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Things FLG Did Not Do This Weekend

Enjoy a Cohiba Robusto. No, sir. Not him.

Insanity Update

FLG weighed in at 214 today, which means no change since last week.

He is only very slightly disappointed. He is in vastly better shape than he was three weeks ago, and soon he is will be doing month two of the program. The workouts in the second month are 15 minutes longer and more intense.

If he doesn't die, then FLG will probably be in the best shape since he played football and lacrosse in high school.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Quote of the day

Do you think your razor needs a vibrating handle, a flashlight, a back-scratcher and ten blades? Your handsome ass grandfather had one blade and polio.


Dear FLG,

Who would be your ideal presidential candidate?

A Serpentor-esque combination of Alexander the Great, Plato, Milton Friedman, Winston Churchill, Matteo Ricci, and Henry Morgan.

UPDATE: Forgot George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Time Horizons And Greed

Interesting post.

Sloppy Writing = Sloppy Thinking

Flavia posted some of her experience with and thoughts on poor student writing. She referenced a couple of posts by Dr. Crazy and quoted this passage:
Most of the story is usually that you are expecting them to encounter ideas that they don't know how to handle, ideas that are new and scary and difficult. They might be great writers with things that they are comfortable with, but once you challenge them? The whole thing becomes a hot mess. This doesn't mean that they are bad writers--it means that they are out of their intellectual depth. If you teach them the ideas, then the writing can catch up. But the writing has to catch up to their thinking--the writing isn't a stand-alone thing.

Sure, there are certainly students who lack the technical skills with writing to formulate grammatically correct sentences and coherent paragraphs, but the root cause of most bad writing is either 1) people don't know what to say, which is where FLG guesses most poor student writing falls, or 2) people are trying to obscure their true meaning, as Orwell explained so eloquently.

It took FLG a while, but he has an almost full-proof strategy for dealing with not knowing what the heck to say. He might have mentioned it before.

Plan A, draw a distinction / compare and contrast. Given that FLG benefited from a Jesuit education, no distinction is too small or obscure.

There are lots of options. Some of FLG's favorites include: long-term versus short-term, ancient versus modern, rational versus empirical, utilitarian versus deontological, sacred versus profane, and pirate versus privateer.

Usually, step one suffices to give FLG something to center his argument around. If he is still at a loss, then he proceeds to Plan B.

Plan B, comment on what somebody else said on the topic. FLG's first GoTo on this is Aristotle. Who is going to be against referencing Aristotle? And he talked about so many things -- tragedy, politics, economics, ethics, etc. Tons of material. In b-school, however, his frequent GoTo, for obvious reasons, was Adam Smith.

Plan C, combine Plans A & C. Find two thinkers. Elucidate and expand upon a distinction between them. Plato versus Aristotle happens to be FLG's favorite.

Plan A works about 95% of the time. Plan B or Plan C work the other 5%.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Insanity Update

Every two weeks during Insanity FLG has to repeat the original fitness test. He saw some marked improvement on many, but not all of the exercises. The great news is that he didn't puke halfway through.

He also weighed in at 214, which is a two pound loss since last week and a total of six pounds lost. So far, so good.

Job Search

Now that his MBA is almost over, FLG is shifting from job search mode into full on job hunt mode.

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Financial Crisis And Regulation

FLG really enjoyed this episode of EconTalk with Charles Calomiris.

Quote of the day

Perhaps the S&P 500 will keep rising this year. But if it does, it won't be because the index is dirt cheap.

FLG has a bunch of cash sitting in his IRA from a rollover he just did. Usually, he wouldn't be paying too much attention to these things, just rebalancing the account every year on his birthday. But since he has the cash in there he's getting cold feet about getting into the market right now. Probably not smart. Nevertheless, it just feels overpriced, based on low volumes, and people are trying to rationalize themselves into believing its a good, strong bull market.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Little Help

FLG doesn't often ask readers for help, but he could use some. He's conducting a worldwide survey about the airline industry as part of his final MBA project. He'd really appreciate some input from his readers, particularly his readers outside of North America. In fact, he could really, really, really use some more submissions from Africa.

Feel free to circulate the link far and wide.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Insanity Update

FLG started Insanity a week ago. It's still hard, but he isn't puking nor feeling dizzy. In fact, a few hours later FLG feels great. He still cannot quite finish the entire workout. On some of the later intervals he quits the exercises with 10 seconds or so left. He doesn't feel bad about it though because the people on the video are often taking a breather too.

Immediately before his first workout FLG weighed 220. Before today's workout he was 216. Four pounds is not too shabby.

Friday, March 2, 2012

FLG is currently listening to

Quote of the day

Mark Bittman:
this is precisely what government is for: to protect us from the things from which we cannot protect ourselves. Sugar is not exactly an invading army, but it can be thought of as a hostile force, and the processed food industry has succeeded in getting us to eat way more of it than is good for us. Will power alone isn't enough to stop that: we need national defense.

Right. Okay. So, if we cannot protect ourselves from sugar, then what exactly can we protect ourselves from Mark?
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