Archive for February 2012

Cramer ‘Mad Money’ Typo and Late Episodes

There is a typo on the RSS feed entry for the 2012-02-24 episode of Mad Money:

The Dow ended the week on a quiet note – Cramer’s got your game plan for next week’s action.  Plus, sick and tired fo paying at the pump?  Jim’s sitting down with WPRTs’ CEO to talk alternatives for your car and your portfolio.  And, fuel for debate?  Cramer’s going one-on-one with CLNE’s CEO.  Then, if VIAB’s word its bond?  Jim’s tuning in to find out.

There is also a typo in the RSS feed entry for the 2012-02-29 episode:

The Dow opened up strong and got a boost from an upbeat GDP report, but couldn’t hold its gains and closed down 53 points.  Cramer takes on teh talk of a market bubble – find out if he thinks things are overinflated.  Plus, LMT’s been flying high despite a lackluster defense budget outlook.  Cramer checks out what’s behind this stock’s flight plan.  And Jim looks at what ENB’s CEO has got in the pipeline.

I have another beef about Mad Money: Twice in the past week the episode was a day late. I can’t afford to miss it. Stay on top, guys!

 

Enterprise Third Season

Archer in the Delphic ExpanseI am done with the third season of Enterprise. I think it was a really strong season. I liked almost every episode a lot. I know a lot of Star Trek fans hated it. Try the third season.

I think that of the captains I have seen, I think I like Archer the best now. He dealt with a lot of moral conflicts, especially in the third season. He found himself rationalizing actions to complete his mission. Kirk never seemed to grow and change throughout the series. Nor did Picard.

Watching the episodes so close together, I noticed that the Enterprise NX-01 sustains a LOT more damage than other ships in the other series. It gets shot at in every episode. The series did a good job in conveying that they were on the bleeding edge of technology and exploration. But still, I think there are explosions on the bridge a bit too often.

I was at a Meetup, and someone said that he thought Voyager was terrible. He told me to skip it altogether.

It looks like they have dropped the Temporal Cold War, and a lot of the episodes are part of three-episode arcs. There are some that are not on the Star Trek site. I do not feel like going through the news releases, but it would be nice to know why some episodes are not on the Star Trek site.

Image from Memory Alpha, copyright owned by CBS,  presumed to be allowed under Fair Use.

 

Corporate Acronyms

When I was working at a semi-evil multi-national there were a lot of reorganizations. There were about eight people between myself and the CEO. Every time one of them was changed or moved there was another reorganization, and each executive was the head of some group that they got to name.

One of the group names in the chain was ETIS. Acronyms were common. ETIS was Enterprise Technology Infrastructure Services. At various points it was EIS and EDIS. I think it was ETIS for the longest time. Almost every time there was a re-org they would ask for suggestions for a name. I would always suggest Banking Enterprise Software Technology, aka BEST. If you call yourself the BEST, you never need to come up with another name.

I was going through my papers and I found one sheet with some alternative meanings for ETIS:

Elvis Totaled Italian Sportscars

while

Encoding Thousands of Interconnected Servers

thus

Enabling Total Internet Supremacy.

But remember, after the

Excruciating Torture of Infinite Staff meetings,

Eventually There Is Software

 

How To Lie With Statistics

There is a monthly “Skeptic Salon” run by the Chicago Skeptics, aka a book club. This month’s selection is How To Lie With Statistics by Darrell Huff, 142 pages, written in 1954, copyright renewed in 1982. What follows is a short summary.

He talks about the difference between mean (average) and median. He talks about sample response (Yale salaries: Perhaps those who were poor did not respond, thus lifting the reported average to be greater than the reported average), is the sample big enough, changing the axis of charts (starting at 90 instead of 0 for changes between 95 and 100 can make the changes look much larger than they are) to mislead (intentionally or otherwise), using figures to distort: if b is two times as big as A, then the image for B should only be twice as tall or twice as wide. If you make it twice as tall AND twice as wide, you are making B appear about 4 to 6 times larger, and the post hoc ergo proctor hoc fallacy.

The last chapter he gives hints on how to spot bad or misleading statistics. It is almost a small skeptic primer.

  • Who Says So: look for bias from whoever gives you the stat: conscious bias, unconscious bias
  • How Does He Know: A survey was sent to a large number of companies, but only 14% responded. The survey was trying to determine if the firms were price gouging. A sample could be biased. It could be too small.
  • Did Somebody Change the Subject: Learn to distinguish between the raw figure and the conclusion. More cases of a disease does not mean more people are getting it. It may simply have been misdiagnosed in the past, or people had it but died of something else
  • Does It Make Sense: Social Security makes no sense. It is set up to give benefits when people reach the age of 65, but the average life expectency (at the time) was only 63. Nobody will live long enough to get the benefits. Also: Trends will not continue forever as they have in the past: TV ownership was increasing 10,000% from 1947 to 1952. That cannot continue forever.

Image from Wikimedia

I Am Looking At Seattle Again

SeattleI am once again considering moving to Seattle.

I mentioned in a prior post that when I was unemployed I asked my friends in various cities what their cities were like. A couple of them lived in Seattle.

I mentioned that one of the things I liked about Chicago is that I do not need a car to get around. One of them, MSL (I will identify them by their initials) said that he did not have a car and got by fine without it. Another, JL, who was MSL’s roommate in college, gave me a different opinion. He said there is mass transit, and you can get by without a car, but it is not too convenient. JL said that Seattle is not as green as its reputation. I told him that MSL said he got by fine without a car. JL informed me that MSL had gotten injured mountain climbing, and was unemployed for quite a while, so he did not really need a car. Taking an hour to get across a city is not that big of a deal when you do not have to go anywhere most of the time. I got the impression that JL and MSL had kind of drifted apart. But JL’s assessment led to my crossing Seattle off my list.

A few years have passed, and I am unemployed again. When I spoke to him a couple of years ago, JL said that he loved living in Seattle and hoped to stay there his entire life. He and his wife have now moved to San Francisco. I think they may have moved for his wife’s job. JL has been working on a book featuring interviews with people who have lived in countries that were/are under martial law. At some point I will ask him why he started this book. His degree is in electrical engineering. How one goes from EE to martial law is a story I would like to hear.

MSL is employed, and he has also left Seattle. He is now in Amman, Jordan. I will call him on Skype sometime and ask him how/why he wound up there.

I needed to talk to EYL, MSL’s sister. I thought she and her husband were living in New Jersey near Philidelphia, but they have moved to Seattle. So after we discussed the topic that I needed her assistance for, we talked about Seattle.

I last spoke to her around the same time I was in contact with JL and MSL. I was looking at job in Madison, Wisconsin. I told her I did not want to live there. It seemed pretty depressing when I went there in February of that year. As lonely as Chicago can be, I thought that Madison would feel even worse. She gave some positives about Madison: It is a pretty liberal town, there is a technology scene, it is a college town with college women. This actually made me think that I should look into Austin more. I realized that just about all of the positive attributes she listed for Madison also applied to Austin, and Austin had one more: Its population is three times that of Madison.

She said that unlike Madison, Seattle actually has a metropolitan area: about 3 million people. She said her nanny gets by fine without a car. Her husband works for Microsoft as a contractor. She said that there are a lot of technology companies in Seattle besides just Microsoft and Amazon.

She told me that while Texas can be hot in the summer, it is only for a few months. But she was not too crazy about the weather in Seattle. It can be kind of depressing.

I have been to Portland, but I have never been to Seattle. I am still leaning towards Texas, but I will also start keeping an eye on Seattle.

Image from Wikipedia

 

Enterprise: Future Tense

Enterprise: Future TenseLast night I watched an episode of Star Trek: Enterprise titled “Future Tense.” I think it is one of the best episodes of any Star Trek series that I have seen.

I watched the original series and saw all the TOS films. I have seen almost every episode of The Next Generation, and I have seen all of the TNG films except the last one. I have only seen about a third of Deep Space Nine, and I have never watched a full episode of Voyager. I have never owned a television, so I am slacking on my Star Trek viewing. Perhaps someday the Star Trek videos site will have all the episodes from every series available.

I have gathered that a lot of Star Trek fans do not like Enterprise. But do you really think that every episode of TOS was a winner? Also, I think that if Gene Roddenberry had not been involved with TNG for the first few seasons it would not have lasted as long as it did. I think it started to get good in season 3. Deep Space Nine also took a while to get off the ground.

I like Enterprise. One episode I did not like is “A Night In Sick Bay“, although the dream sequence with Pothos’ funeral was hilarious.

Off the top of my head, my favorite TOS episodes are “Balance of Terror” and “The Enterprise Incident“. My favorite TNG episodes are “The Best of Both Worlds”  (I think just about all the Borg episodes were good), “Yesterday’s Enterprise“, “Booby Trap“, “All Good Things…”  and “Parallels“. I also liked “Masks“, although I know most people did not. Nothing wrong with taking risks.

If you are going to jump into “Future Tense”, you should probably watch all the episodes about the Temporal Cold War.

Enterprise does have the same prequel paradox the Star Wars prequel trilogy had: It takes place in an earlier time and all the technology is supposed to be less advanced, yet all the technology looks more advanced.

Image from Memory Alpha, copyright owned by CBS,  presumed to be allowed under Fair Use.

2012-01 Dividend Income

Indo-Sassanian CoinageHere is my dividend income for January, 2012.

The total was $188.68. The total for the same stocks 3 months ago (October, 2011) was $208.90. As I mentioned in my previous dividend income update, Coca-Cola (KO) is on a weird dividend schedule. They paid a dividend in October, 2011, and their next dividend payment was in December, 2011. The total for October, 2011 without KO was $165.13. So I think it is fair to say my dividend income is going up.

Here are the totals:

  • Automatic Data Processing: $21.64
  • MDU Resources Group Inc: $8.71
  • Kimberly-Clark: $36.20
  • Chubb Corp: $8.11
  • Illinois Tool Works: $18.33
  • Altria Group: $22.12
  • Family Dollar Stores Inc: $4.77
  • Piedmont Natural Gas Inc: $15.10
  • Valspar Corp: $11.24
  • Cincinnati Financial Corp: $17.20
  • Sysco Corp: $13.98
  • RPM International Inc: $11.28

Image from Wikimedia