Silent Archimedes

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Why I think LeBron James will go to the Knicks

Posted by silentarchimedes on December 5, 2009

Here are the many reasons, in no particular order, why I think LeBron James should and will sign with the Knicks in the summer of 2010:

1. Madison Square Garden – He has said many times that Madison Square Garden is one of his most favorite places to play ball. Also, MSG continued to sell out and maintain the aura of a playoff game many times during this year (and the last few years) even when the Knicks (and Rangers) stunk it up. What other city has this atmosphere even when the team(s) has been horrible for 10 years? Most cities give up on the teams.

Madison Square Garden
Knicks playing at Madison Square Garden.
(source: Wikipedia)

2. NYC badly needs a basketball savior – Giants won in 2007. Yankees won in 2009. Rangers won in 1994. The Knicks have not won since 1972-3, and only reached the Finals twice since then. Everyone saw how NYC treated the 1994-5 Rangers when they finally won. Imagine how the city will treat whoever gets the Knicks to the promised land.

3. The Canyon of Heroes – There is nothing like going down Broadway and the Canyon of Heroes in a ticker-tape parade, being celebrated by three million+ fans. The history of the Canyon of Heroes goes beyond sports and New York. It is a big part of all that America stands for – valor, freedom, intelligence and bravery (Eisenhower, MacArthur, Glenn, Statue of Liberty, Einstein, Olympians, Lindbergh, Earhart, Jesse Owens, Armstrong, just to name a few of the 100+ parades). No other city comes close to offering that experience. None.


Apollo 11 astronauts honored in
Canyon of Heroes Tickertape parade in 1969.
(Source: Wikipedia, NASA)

4. Time to leave the nest – As much as people say he won’t leave Cleveland because he’s a hometown kid, that reason may also be why he leaves. All college kids remember having to decide between going to a state school versus going out of state. The visions and dreams of leaving the nest grow stronger as you mature. It is a natural process to want to leave the nest and prove you are capable of taking care of yourself. Many of those that were hesitant about leaving home, end up loving the experience away from home. LeBron will be 25 next summer.

5. It’s just a part-time job – People make it seem like if he leaves Ohio, he is naked and all out in the world alone. Basketball season is from October to April. He has 4 to 5 months each year to live back home with his mom and friends, if he wants. Additionally, there is so much traveling going on during the season, most players see the team city as a job location and not necessarily a family-nest location. It’s more important that the city and fans embrace you. He will be embraced like no other in NYC.

6. James Dolan – He might be one of the most incompetent owners in sports, but there is one thing that he has, money. And he’s not afraid to spend it on the Knicks. Now that the management is sound with Walsh, LeBron can come here knowing the management will do whatever it takes to surround James with whoever he wants to win it all.

7. LeBron as pseudo-GM – LeBron will have a lot of input in which players the Knicks sign or let go during his whole contract. The Knicks entire hope is that LeBron signs with them. You think once they do, they will go against his wishes in bringing in a supporting cast? With Dolan’s money and Walsh’s management, LeBron does not have to worry about the current Knicks players being bad.

8. Don’t forget 2011 – Too much is said about how the Knicks will only be able to get one max player (and recently cleared space for two!). No matter what the cap is and whether they can unload Curry and/or Jeffries, both contracts come off in 2011. LeBron is not signing for one year, it’s a multi-year investment.

9. Mike D’Antoni – Every player, including LeBron, loved playing for D’Antoni on the US National team. His style is almost playground style – open, fast-paced and focused on athleticism – which Lebron loves. You can see how the Cavs offense slows down when Shaq is stuck in the paint. versus someone more fleet footed like Varejao when he’s in the game. LeBron is taking more fade-away jumpers instead of driving to the net. Additionally, the Cavs don’t do many pick-and-rolls which would greatly increase LeBron’s ability. D’Antoni’s whole premise is the ability to efficiently do pick-and-rolls.


Mike D’Antoni coaching the Suns.
(Source: Wikipedia, Bobak Ha’Eri)

10. CC Sabathia, Arod, Jeter and others – LeBron’s friends on the Yankees and Giants will simply tell him there’s no other city to be a champion in. That’s gotta be at least in his head seeing his friends enjoying the glory of being champions and beloved by the city. Not to mention Jeter winning SI’s Sportsman of the Year. If LBJ brings home the trophy in NYC, good chance he will be just that.

11. New York Yankees – LeBron is a big Yankees fan. Yankees will be contenders for the foreseeable future. If he sticks around in the offseason, he can enjoy many games in the new stadium and watch his buddy Sabathia pitch to his heart’s content. Not to mention the playoffs.

12. Giants and Rangers – Don’t know if LeBron is a big football or hockey fan, but it’s always nicer to be in a city where all the sports teams are contending and supported by the city. The Browns have been a mess for a long time. The Indians seem to be in constant rebuilding mode, having let Sabathia and Cliff Lee go. Not to mention that the Cavaliers were nothing for many years before James.

11. Charity – Yes, it’s true that charity can be done in any city, but charity done in a big media city like NYC just means more exposure and publicity for it. Look at Jeter’s Turn2 Foundation or Joe Torre’s Safe at Home foundation which he has not moved to L.A. and he still flies back to every year.

12. NYC media – Which brings us to the media. James loves the spotlight. He is accommodating to the media. Seriously, what athlete entertains the hypothetical idea of going to another city for so long before finally saying no more questions until after the season? He understands being a true superstar means winning over the local media. Winning over the crazy media of NYC is another challenge I think he finds exciting.

13. Local marketing – People talk about how going to NYC will not make him a bigger global icon. They talk about how he is already as big as he can get in the world. They talk about how he is second in China and fourth in Europe in jersey sales. One thing they are all forgetting is the local marketing of LeBron. Yes, he is already an icon in NYC with large billboards, but he is seen as an icon like Jordan, but not an icon they can call their own. Big big difference. Imagine the marketing prospects of that of a metropolitan area of 18 million versus Cleveland or even Miami. Only Los Angeles, Chicago and possibly Boston can compete with that. The added local marketing revenue is something he can not get anywhere else. And don’t forget Wall Street and the many Fortune 500 companies there. Everyone assumed that just because Nike doesn’t have a bonus clause in the new contract LeBron just signed that it means they don’t prefer to have him in New York. It would be too obvious, but trust me, they definitely prefer him in NYC. If LeBron does sign with the Knicks, they can mutually tear the current contract up and sign a new one.

Think about it. Knicks have been horrible for many years. Yet they are fifth in Most Popular Team Merchandise and David Lee is 12th in jersey sales (and Nate Robinson is 11th!). It’s not little kids in the midwest buying the merchandise and jerseys, but the millions of fans in the NYC area. Don’t tell me local marketing doesn’t matter.

14. Basketball legends reside in Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago and New York – The stars from the big cities still command the most attention in basketball (and sports) history. Going back to sales rankings, 7 of the top 14 in jersey sales are players from the four cities, and the four cities are in the top 5 in team merchandise. An example is Tim Duncan. He has been such a consistent force for the past 13 years, and yet no one really cares or hears about him. I know he likes it that way, but if you want to be remembered, you have to go to the big cities.

15. It’s 5 players per team, not 9 or 22 – Unlike baseball or football where one player cannot take over a game day in and day out, in basketball, it can happen. Even a roster of 12 is much easier to improve than 25 in baseball or 53 in football. The Cavaliers is a perfect example. They were 17-65 the year before James was drafted. James single-handedly generated an 18-win improvement his first season, 35-47. What James wants to see is cap flexibility in the first and second years he is there, and also a willingness to spend by the owner. Knicks fit both.

16. This year’s Knicks record doesn’t matter as much as people make it out to be – People keep focusing on that LeBron says he wants to play on a winner. With the Knicks mired in the basement of the league, people wonder why LeBron would want to go to a loser team. Umm, most of the players are not going to be on the team next year. Even LeBron knows that the Knicks record is not reflective of the potential of the team next year. The key is seeing the players that are in the Knick’s long term plans play hard and improve. This is why it’s important D’Antoni plays the young core like Gallinari, Douglas, Hill, Lee, Robinson, and Chandler. (Umm, ok, let’s leave KryptoNate and Hill out of it)


LeBron James in a Knicks uniform.
Those crafty New Yorkers. (source: web)

17. LeBron’s personal attention to Gallinari and Robinson – I know LeBron occasionally will whisper advice to the young players on several teams, but he has done it very obviously with Nate Robinson last year and with Gallinari this year right after the only Cavs visit to MSG. Why bother? He knows it will only add fuel to the fire.

18. LeBron’s quotes about NYC and MSG – LeBron has given so many positive quotes about playing in MSG and NYC. Seriously, if I was a Cavs fan I’d be peeved that he speaks so highly of another city that way. Either he is a big tease or there is something there…

19. He’s not playing second fiddle to Dwyane Wade – Yes, Wade and James have mentioned how great it would be play on the same team, and how they would tear up the court. But this works best when both of them go to a new team together. That means the new team is both theirs equally. No second fiddle. Let’s be clear. The Heat is Wade’s team. If LeBron goes to Miami, he’s going to Wade’s team. Just like when Shaq went to L.A. It’s Kobe’s team.

20. Cleveland has no great rivalries – Kobe said it best on Christmas that there is no rivalry between the Lakers and Cavs.  Frankly, no team has a strong rivalry with the Cavs. They were so bad for so long. And the nearest teams in Chicago and Philly have more natural rivalries with other teams than the Cavs. Great rivalries are beyond current players, they are built over many years. The Knicks have rivalries. If Wade stays in Miami and LeBron comes to NYC, that’s a rivalry waiting to continue from the Riley days of the 1990s. Not to mention rivalries with the Bulls, Celtics and Sixers. And I bet Knicks-Nets becomes an interesting rivalry after Prokhorov’s purchase.

21. Lebron is not a Miami kind of guy – I just don’t see LeBron as a South Beach kind of guy. Basketball is a winter sport (unless it’s playground ball, of course). Wade, I see as a Miami person, so I don’t think Wade will leave the Heat.

22. If it’s only about money, how come he hasn’t signed an extension already – People talk about how the Knicks can’t offer him more money than the hometown Cavs and so they are not as attractive. If that is the case, why hasn’t he signed a max extension with the Cavs by now? It is apparent that LeBron, at a minimum, is excited by the possibilities of free agency. This can only help the Knicks. Plus, I think this hometown max contract being more than what other teams can offer is overblown. The annual max percent raise is 6% vs. 8% (or something like that). Yes, it makes a difference, but for someone like LeBron that can easily overcome that in external opportunities in NYC, I don’t think it’s an issue at all.

23. Winning, loyalty or immortality – Bill Simmons of ESPN said it perfectly, “It’s one of the greatest sports decisions I can remember: LeBron can choose winning (Chicago), loyalty (Cleveland) or a chance at immortality (New York) (ESPN link)”. I think if most of us had a chance at immortality, we would take the risk and go for it. It will be interesting to see which of these three traits he goes for.

“Let’s get this clear: I said the max contract doesn’t mean more than winning,” James said. “I didn’t say, ‘I don’t need a max contract’ or ‘I’m not going to get a max contract.’ All I’m saying is that winning is more important to me than money at the end of the day.”

-LeBron

“As big of stars as those guys are now, it would be even more magnified if they went there [New York]. You become a household name to everyone if you play in New York City. It’s a magical place that goes well beyond basketball. You’re up there with legends like Ali and Sinatra. A franchise can be rebuilt quickly through free agency and the Knicks might be one of those now.” (NBA Fanhouse)

-Bernard King (former Knicks great)

“They’re in the lead, they just have to make it [attractive] for him. LeBron will come to New York if he knows they’re gonna win. . . . So, if they sign a free agent first, that would probably seal the deal, I believe. They should have somebody else on their radar to make him want to come. He could really be a ‘King’ if he could revitalize the Knicks. You got some of the best basketball fans in the world, and now you could be responsible for bringing a championship back to New York. Now, it’s gonna take a few years, because you still gotta add more pieces. He’s got more talent in Cleveland, but he can do more incredible things in New York… If he said he wants to be a billionaire, or close to it, you gotta go to New York.(New York Post)

-Magic Johnson

And here are additional reasons why I think he will at least leave the Cavaliers.

1. He did not pick the Cavs, they picked him – People seem to forget that LeBron did not choose to go to Cleveland. The Cavs notoriously tanked the two season prior to the LeBron draft in order to get the highest chance to win the lottery. They needed him more than he needed them. LeBron had no choice. He would’ve simply gone to anyone that won the lottery. Now is his first chance to choose where he wants to go.

2. His loyalty lies with Akron, not Cleveland – It was interesting that at his MVP Award ceremony this year, he pledged his loyalty to Akron, not Cleveland and not Ohio. This might be a subtle choice of words in distinguishing where his ultimate loyalty lies. Additionally, he choose to have it at the University of Akron, instead of somewhere in Cleveland.

3. Cleveland had seven long years to give LeBron a title – As much as people say Dan Gilbert, the Cavs owner, has an emptyless pocket to surround LeBron with the pieces to win, the truth is all the moves have been more like 80% effort. Bringing in Shaq as sloppy fourths after the Heat, Lakers and Suns had a turn was not the wisest choice. Plus, the addition of Jamison was also suspect. Here’s a guy that has played for only Golden State and the Wizards in putting up his numbers. His age and lack of playoff heroics made him a risky addition, considering how much they gave up for him.

4. Mike Brown and the coaching staff – Brown’s a nice guy and all, but he really is way over his head. By the end of the Cavs-Celtics series, it was obvious LeBron just didn’t respect the guy and the coaching staff’s ability to get the Cavs to the promised land.

5. Kevin Garnett’s strong words on loyalty – I know this is just some other player’s words, but it’s hard to ignore the truth behind Garnett’s words. ”Loyalty is something that hurts you at times because you can’t get youth back” Garnett said.


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Holmes catch, Steelers win not comparable to Tyree’s catch, Giants win

Posted by silentarchimedes on February 3, 2009

Holmes catch

Steeler's Santonio Holmes' TD catch

There shouldn’t even be a debate about which catch was better, the Santonio Holmes back corner dragging the feet touchdown catch to give the Steelers the lead or the David Tyree high in the air helmet catch to keep the underdog Giants alive against the vaunted New England Patriots. The only reason the Holmes catch is great is because it just looks so damn beautiful. Roethlisberger lasering the ball past three or four Cardinals defenders as Holmes catches and barely has room to drag his feet. The problem with the catch is that it is not unique; the dragging the feet catch is all too common in the NFL. Whether it’s in between the goal lines or in the endzone, many receivers have had one of those types of catches in their careers. Amani Toomer of the Giants had several of those just this past season and even in the playoffs last year. It’s just cool because it still looks so beautiful. However, the Eli Manning scramble to David Tyree catch is not something you see every season, let alone every decade. It is a play that you rewind and replay over and over again and still be in complete amazement that the play unfolded all the way through. Here is a list of reasons why it is such a better catch:

1. Uniqueness – Players practice the Holmes catch in practice. They practice the diving and dragging of feet to stay in bounds catch during the week. And you see this catch almost every week in some game during the season. There is no way to practice the Tyree on the helmet getting tackled holding the ball catch. That just happens in real-time… once in a blue moon.

Giants' David Tyree's catch (courtesy of Andrew Mills/The Star-Ledger)

Giants' David Tyree's catch (courtesy of Andrew Mills/The Star-Ledger)

2. Step by Step Drama – The Manning-Tyree catch had at least 3 instances in which the play should have died but somehow stayed alive. One, Eli was engulfed in a sea of pass rushers almost instantly as the play began. Two, as he tried to navigate out of the pile, some defender grabbed Eli’s jersey. Yet he managed to break free. Three, Tyree leapt to grab a catch that was almost over his head but he was able to get his hands on it. Four, Harrison had his arm inside Tyree’s arms and could have easily broken the play up. Five, somehow Tyree was able to keep the ball one inch from the ground as Harrison tackled him with their arms tangled. Wow. The Roethlisberger-Holmes didn’t have this same step by step drama. Roethlisberger had several seconds of safety before the pass rushers closed in, yet he didn’t feel the pressure that Eli felt. He lasered it to the back corner and luckily went through three defenders into Holmes hands. Great play but not too much drama.

3. Pressure situation – The Steelers and Roethlisberger had just won a Super Bowl a few years ago. Everyone expected them to win this one. Instead they let the Cardinals come back to take the lead in the fourth quarter. That means they finally played to their expectations on that last drive. However, the Giants were massive underdogs at the Super Bowl. They were playing against history, a vaunted team on the verge of going 19-0. Manning was a mediocre player before the playoffs and he stepped up majorly on that last drive. Plus, it was third down and without making that long play, the game was pretty much over. The Holmes catch was only second down, and even with a miss there, the Steelers still had two downs to laser it into the end zone.

4. Caliber of receivers – If you follow the Steelers, you have heard Holmes many times before. Although he’s the third receiver, he has been known to make some big plays before. He is easily a number two receiver on many teams. However, Tyree has only been known to be a good special teams player. He was way down on the receiver chart of the Giants and didn’t even play this year for the Giants (pseudo-injured reserve). He was definitely not the guy you’d expect to make such a big catch in the Super Bowl.

5. Where and when the play occurred – The Steelers were at the 6-yard line of the Cardinals. It was second down. Cardinal fans were already somewhat resigned to the fact that the chances were the Steelers would score a TD there. However, the Giants were in desperation mode. It was third and long and they were near midfield. As a Patriots fan, you’re tentatively happy at that situation that the chances of Eli making a first down there was against the Giants.

When you look at these four reasons, they not only validate that Tyree’s catch was more remarkable but that the Giants-Patriots Super Bowl was better than the Steelers-Cardinals game this year. Last year was completely David and Goliath, fighting against history. While this year, albeit a great game, was not a greatly played game. Cardinals should have had the lead at halftime, if not for that stupid intercepted pass, can’t tackle for 100 yards play. As a Cardinals fan, you gotta be pretty upset that you played so well against the Steelers except for that halftime play and the last drive. As a Steelers fan, you gotta be relieved that you were able to pull it out on that last drive after losing a big lead in the fourth quarter. All in all a great game to watch, but it still didn’t compare to all that last year’s game signified and the suspense and excitement of it.

As a disclaimer, I am a Giants fan. However, my second favorite team is the Steelers, so this article is not that biased. It was a great game, and the Steelers proved how great and respected the franchise is. They deserve to be called “America’s Team” instead of those sorry Cowboys. The Super Bowl should have been Steelers-Giants. Now that would have been an amazing game!

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My 2009 Predictions

Posted by silentarchimedes on January 22, 2009

Here are my 2009 predictions. None that are too far out there. Just a basic assessment of what I think might happen in 2009.

POLITICS

Barack the Celebrity

Barack the Celebrity

Obama’s approval ratings remain historically high but lower than the inauguration euphoria – Obama’s ability to inspire change and leadership at such a dour time in America gives him public leeway not seen since, well, 9/11. However, Obama’s pragmatism will help him keep the country on course and inspired throughout 2009. He has already made key changes in ethics regulations and state diplomacy in his first days in office. The only thing that will stop him will be… Congress.

Don’t expect much from Congress – Congress had lower approval ratings than President Bush in 2008, even with the Democratic majority and push for change. Expect the same from Pelosi and Reid, who are not strong leaders and have plenty of personal ambitions to prove Congressional strength to the Executive strength. Couple with the Republicans fight for relevancy, expect a 2009 of posturing and tit-for-tats. 2010 seems like a better year for Congress because the public will side with Obama over the frustrating bureaucracy in Congress in 2009.

ECONOMICS

The market moves sideways – There will be strong forces pulling the economy from both the recession side and the growth side. It is what I call the economic paradox. As the economy falls, oil prices drop and the US Dollar rises (somewhat surprisingly). However, as global growth resumes, oil demand and  commodity prices rise again and the US Dollar falls (since investors will begin investing in riskier assets instead of US Treasuries). Both are problems for America. Obama seems focused on passing bills and bailouts that will help light a fire under the economy, especially job market. However, the more he does the more inflation becomes a risk. Expect several major rises and several major slides, but by the end of 2009, the Dow Jones will still be in the 7500-9000 range.

Gold surpasses $1000/oz again – Because of the economic paradox, gold will continue to maintain its safe haven status in 2009. One of these days, gold will surpass $1000/oz again. In looking at the GLD chart, gold hit a low in mid-Nov 08 and has since built a nice rising linear resistance that it bounded in early Dec 08 and mid Jan 09. If gold breaks the upper linear resistance of $900/oz expect $1000/oz in Feb 09. If it does not expect a pullback. Aside from the technicals, 2009 is still a year of unforeseen economic strife and that will keep the price of gold high. Depending on where the economic paradox is at the end of 2009, gold will either be well above $1000/oz or testing it’s multi-year lows of $700/oz again.

Gold (GLD) prices from Jan 2008 to Jan 2009

Gold (GLD) prices from Jan 2008 to Jan 2009 (12-EMA green, 50-EMA red)

There will only be one viable American automaker by year’s end – The Big Three is already, in essence, the Small Two. Chrysler’s recent gift of 35% stake to Fiat for its access to technology and services is a desperation move to prove to the U.S. government that it has a viable plan to survive. However, the U.S. government is not going to perpetually support a half-foreign owned company at taxpayers expense. As for GM and Ford, 2009 will still be a very tough market. Any uptick by buyers will simply be for fuel efficient cars built by Toyota, Honda and even Hyundai. GM is effectively surviving on federal assistance, which runs out every few months. A radical solution has to found soon. Don’t fret though, because of the uniqueness of this market, hopes abound for small automakers that can make a difference in “green” vehicles.

SPORTS

yankeesYankees back in business – Sorry non-Yankees fans, but 2009 is appearing to be the Year of the Yankees. A new stadium, a team salary in excess of $200 million, a re-focused Arod with Mark Texeira pushing him, injury free Posada, Matsui and Chamberlain? It’s gonna be a great three-team AL East battle all summer. Yankees will win the division and make it to the World Series once again.

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Book Review: 50 Secrets of the World’s Longest Living People

Posted by silentarchimedes on January 3, 2009

50 Secrets of the World’s Longest Living People

Author: Sally Beare

By Sally Beare

By Sally Beare (2006)

WHY I READ THIS BOOK

Catchy title. Bargain book at the local Barnes & Noble. This book was an easy choice to pick up. Who wouldn’t want a list of tips from the lifestyles of the world’s longest living people? I”m at the point in my life where youthfulness doesn’t protect me anymore from the stupid lifestyle decisions I make every now and then. The occasional chocolate cream puff or the yummy CPK garlic chicken pizza are not one-night stays in a hotel but treat my body like a three-month summer home. The staying up until 4am late nights affect more of the next day than back in college. And for all the years of fighting for independence from the parents, well, planning healthy daily diets and exercise now has become chores rather than reflex. A nice book to motivate and light a fire under an young adult passing 30 was necessary. So how did this book do?

THE AUTHOR: SALLY BEARE

I could not find an official webpage of Sally Beare’s or any Wikipedia or other page devoted to her. The short biography on B&N shows that her background is not in nutrition but in English, Psychology and Russian literature. After taking on several diverse jobs, she became a nutritionist only after she noticed dramatic improvements in her health after changing her diet. She has since written three books on the matter (GoodReads). She was born in England and now resides in Islamabad, Pakistan with her family.

SYNOPSIS

In glancing at the title, you might quickly think that the book is simply a list of 50 secrets that were gleamed from people who lived a really long time. Although the list is obviously part of the book, it is actually only half the book. Beare has done her homework and talks in great detail about the five long-living communities that she researched for this book. Part One of the book describes the lifestyles of the Okinawans, Symians and three others, and offers insights into their similarities and reasons for long life. Part two is a listing of the 50 secrets, but each secret is accompanied by how the communities put the secret to action. The final section puts it all together and suggests recipes that would help in living these secrets.

THE REVIEW

To many people that pick up this book, the 50 secrets sticks out more than reading about the world’s longest living people. There is this assumption that people that live a long time live simple, stress-free lives. Although we know this, we don’t adhere to it because we don’t really think that is possible in America, the age of work, work, work and money, money, money. However, taking the time to read a book like this would help nonetheless because it would put your crazy busy life in perspective. The fact that the high quality of life in America does not lead to longer lives (as compared to simpler communities around the world) has to be disconcerting.

The majority of the 50 life secrets in the book are very insightful. I have heard many of them before, but to read about them with strong evidence that a certain long-living community adheres to them sinks in more. We are inundated with contradicting health suggestions on the news and Internet  that we become confused with what to follow and tune them out. We also become jaded by the confusion surrounding health advice that used to be taken as a given. For example, the efficacy of multi-vitamins has been thrown into question lately. This book does not seem like it has ulterior motives. It is simply a relay of observations by an author that did her research. I like the book for that.

I really enjoyed the first part of the book, where Beare talks about each community in detail. Most people have heard of long-living people from Okinawa, Japan, but how many have heard of the Symians in Greece, or the Hunzakuts in Pakistan? The third part of the book was also nice. Putting everything together, offering suggestions on how to put the advice to use in busy livelihoods and giving good healthy recipes.

So, how was the major part of the book? The 50 secrets? Unsurprisingly, 37 of them are diet-related. The other thirteen are lifestyle-related, such as the importance of exercise and  living a more simple and emotionally-balanced life. Most of the secrets are useful and can be done with only a little bit of consciousness when going grocery shopping. The problem I have with this section is its length. It takes 174 pages for the 50 secrets in my edition. That’s roughly 3.5 pages per secret. Now that may not seem like much, but do you really need to spend six pages on Finding Good Fats in Fish (secret 11) or seven pages on how to Choose Buckwheat, Brown Rice, and Other Whole Grains (secret 3)? The problem is actually not in the secret description, its the stories that come from the longest-living people about that particular secret. At first, this was fun reading and actually helped the validity of the list, but then it started becoming repetitive and it seemed like the author was straining to fill pages on certain secrets. For example, many secrets are closely tied to each other and stories from the communities are obviously going to be similar regarding the secrets. For example, the whole grains secret mentioned above and Have a Handful of Nuts and Seeds Daily are pretty self-explanatory. In the end, most of the diet stories have the same examples, the people use them in their meals. No need to go on and on about each one. Most of these stories should just have been left in Part One and leave Part Two solely on the secrets and the scientific evidence  behind them.

THE VERDICT

This is a good book. Although the length could have been much shorter, I respect the author for doing thorough research. Of the 37 diet secrets, I would say two-thirds of them are definitely doable right away. Some like Use Hemp and Sprout Your Own Superfoods, are unrealistic, especially for a young adult male like myself. The 13 non-diet secrets are very good because it really puts our busy lives into perspective. We realize how we have neglected the value of sleep, exercise, laughing and breathing all for what? Money? Instant gratification?

The value of the secrets and Part One of the book makes this book worthy of  8 stars.

8 out of 10 stars

Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

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Being a sports fan in New York City. What team combinations have had the most success the past 25 years?

Posted by silentarchimedes on January 1, 2009

rangersI was listening to Benigno and Roberts on WFAN on my 3 hour drive from New Jersey to Connecticut on Saturday afternoon. Joe and Evan, both Mets and Jets fans, were ranting with other Mets-Jets fans how that combination of sports teams to be fans of in New York City was probably the worst. Especially with the current Jets collapse after starting out 8-3 and the Mets’ two consecutive late season collapses, the heartbreaking is at an all-timemets high. Well, as a Giants and Yankees fan, it’s been the complete opposite for me. The Yankees made the playoffs 13 years in a row (and winning four championships), while the Giants just came off a stellar Super Bowl dream season, not to mention the 2000 run and this year’s 12-4 season. This led me to do a quick analysis of the different combination of teams of the four major sports that fans can follow in NYC, and which ones have the best happiness and least happiness. First, I will quickly review each team’s success the past 25 years (I chose 25 because I first became a sports fan of a NY team in 1984 with the Yankees, and it’s a nice round number for recent success). Then I will rank the combinations in order of success.

Success will be defined as follows:

ACCOMPLISHMENT POINTS/OCCURRENCE
Winning season 2
Division winner 3
Playoff season 3
Playoff round won 5
Conference championship 15
Championship 20

Points explanation: To be clear, the team accrues points every time one of the accomplishments occur. For example, if the Giants win the Super Bowl this year, they would get points for every single accomplishment, not just the 20 points for winning the championship. That means a championship year for a football division winner would net the team 2+3+3+5(3)+15+20 = 58 points! That also means not all four sports championships are created equal, but they are pretty close, The reason for this is because the excitement and level of accompjetslishment increases up to the championship game. Usually when a team wins a championship, the fans are  relatively satisfied for the next few seasons. A division-winning playoff season coupled with a loss in the first playoff round would net the team 2+3+3 = 8 points. In essence, a championship is loosely equal to seven playoff seasons. Ties in football and the old ties in hockey are counted as non-games when calculating winning percentages.

So, here are the results of the nine New York City metro area sports teams and their successes the past 25 finished seasons. I will update this when the football, basketball and hockey seasons are finished with their 2008 seasons. That means I do not include the Giants accomplishments or the Jets collapse for this season in my analysis.

NEW YORK CITY METRO AREA SPORTS TEAM PROFILES
TEAM RECORD WIN PCT. WIN YRS DIV WIN
PLY YRS
PLY RECORD PLY RNDS RECORD CONF CHMP
CHAMP SUCCESS POINTS
Yankees 2235-1741 .562 21 10 13 78-50 17-9 6 4 366
Mets 2087-1892 .525 16 3 5 30-24 6-4 2 1 136
Giants 215-182 .542 13 7 12 15-9 15-9 4 3 278
Jets 180-218 .452 10 2 8 4-8 4-8 0 0 70
Knicks 1005-1013 .498 13 4 16 89-86 18-16 2 0 206
Nets 882-1136 .437 10 4 13 52-59 10-13 2 0 151
Rangers 863-807 .517 12 3 15 70-76 14-14 1 1 183
Islanders 788-898 .467 10 2 12 41-62 8-15 1 0 117
Devils 918-752 .550 18 7 18 118-98 22-15 4 3 341

WIN YRS – years above .500, DIV WIN – years team won division, PLY YRS – years team made playoffs, PLY RECORD – playoff record, PLY RNDS RECORD – how many playoff rounds team won and lost, CONF CHMP – conference champions, CHAMP – championships

It’s not surprising the Yankees have had the most success the past 25 years. The Devils championship success in the 1990s make them a close second. Although the Mets had 16 winning seasons, they only made the playoffs five of those years because their records were probably closer to .500 than .600. The Jets by far are the worst team. They are the only ones to not even have a conference championship. Conference championships are a major key to a fan’s happiness. All fans hope for is their team to make it to the final round… to the World Series, Super Bowl, or Championship.

new-york-giants-superbowlHowever, the success points by themselves don’t mean much because we can’t compare teams across sports. We need to calculate the total possible points for each team and each sport. In our six points categories, the maximum is 25 (example: 25 possible playoff seasons) except the possible playoff rounds won. The only sport in which playoff rounds won is dependent on the team is football, where there is the extra wild card round. If the team was involved in a wild-card game, then that’s another possible playoff round to be won. In non-playoff seasons, total possible playoff rounds is 3, discounting the wild-card round. From the total possible points each team could have accrued in the past 25 years, we can calculate a success percentage for each team.

The success percentage of the NYC sports teams in the past 25 years, from best to worst:

TEAM RANKINGS
RANK TEAM POINTS TOTAL POSSIBLE POINTS
SUCCESS PERCENTAGE
1 Yankees 366 1355 .270
2 Devils 341 1575 .217
3 Giants 278 1490 (8) .187
4 Knicks 206 1575 .131
5 Rangers 183 1575 .116
6 Mets 136 1355 .100
7 Nets 151 1575 .096
8 Islanders 117 1575 .074
9 Jets 70 1485 (7) .047

devilsThe ordering stayed the same when we used success points except the Mets jumped ahead of the Nets because there are less total points in baseball than basketball (mostly due to playoff rounds). The Yankees effectively led all categories except the number of playoff seasons and playoff rounds won. However, unlike the other three sports, baseball is the hardest to get into the playoffs, even after the wild cards were introduced in 1995. The futility of the bottom four teams coincidentally have a team in each sport. That means a fan of the Mets, Nets, Islanders and Jets have been wallowing in the most misery for the past 25 years. The top four teams are also one in each sport. A fan of the Yankees, Devils, Giants and Knicks would be the happiest four-team fan in the area.

knicks2Now that we have a success percentage associated with each team, the fun part begins. We want to find the team combinations that give fans the most happiness. However, to be realistic, we realize that many fans are not hardcore or even big fans of all four sports. I know a lot of fans that are only into baseball and football, but not the other two. Or they are fans of other cities and teams (traitors) for some of the sports. To allow for combinations that don’t include all four teams, we will simply take the average success percentage of the teams involved.

Before giving the results of a lot of the possible combinations, let’s highlight the very popular baseball-football fans:

NYC HAPPY FAN RANKINGS FOR BASEBALL-FOOTBALL FANS
RANK TEAMS HAPPY FAN PERCENTAGE
1 Yankees, Giants
.229
2 Yankees, Jets
.159
3 Mets, Giants
.144
4 Mets, Jets .074

yankeesWow! If you are a Yankees-Giants fan you have been three-times happier than Mets-Jets fans the past 25 years. The funny thing is that if you are a Yankees-Jets fan or a Mets-Giants fan, the Jets and Mets pull down your overall fan happiness. Being a Jets fan pulls your Yankees fan happiness down by 41%, and being a Mets fan pulls your Giants fan happiness down by 23%. Or to be an optimist, the Yankees and Giants pull up the happiness of Jets and Mets fans. Hehe…

Here are the results of most of the possible combinations of being a NYC metro sports fan. There are too many total possible combinations to list, from 1-team fans up to 4-team fans, so I will make some assumptions in order to remove unpopular combinations. I will assume that multi-sport fans have to be at least a baseball AND a football fan. That means we will only allow combinations in which each must contain a baseball and a football team.

NYC HAPPY FAN RANKINGS
RANK BASEBALL FOOTBALL BASKETBALL HOCKEY HAPPY FAN PERCENTAGE
1 Yankees .270
2 Yankees Giants .229
3 Yankees
Giants Devils .225
4
Devils
.217
5 Yankees
Giants Knicks Devils .201
6 Yankees
Giants Knicks .196
7 Yankees
Giants Nets Devils .193
8 Yankees
Giants Rangers .191
9
Giants .187
10 Yankees
Giants Nets .184
11 Yankees
Jets Devils .178
12 Yankees
Giants Islanders .177
13
Yankees
Giants Knicks Rangers .176
14 Mets
Giants Devils .168
15 Yankees
Giants Nets Rangers .167
16t Yankees
Giants Knicks Islanders .166
16t Yankees
Jets Knicks Devils .166
18t Yankees Jets .159
18t Mets
Giants Knicks Devils .159
20 Yankees
Jets Nets Devils .158
21 Yankees
Giants Nets Islanders .157
22 Mets
Giants Nets Devils .150
23 Yankees
Jets Knicks .149
24t Mets Giants .144
24t Yankees
Jets Rangers .144
26 Yankees
Jets Knicks Rangers .141
27 Mets
Giants Knicks .139
28
Yankees
Jets Nets .138
29t Mets
Giants Knicks Rangers .134
29t Mets
Giants Rangers .134
31 Yankees
Jets Nets Rangers .132
32t Yankees
Jets Knicks Islanders .131
32t
Knicks .131
34 Yankees
Jets Islanders .130
35 Mets
Giants Nets .128
36 Mets
Giants Nets Rangers .125
37 Mets
Jets Knicks Devils .124
38 Mets
Giants Knicks Islanders .123
39 Yankees
Jets Nets Islanders .122
40 Mets
Jets Devils .121
41 Mets
Giants Islanders .120
42 Rangers .116
43 Mets
Jets Nets Devils .115
44 Mets
Giants Nets Islanders .114
45
Mets .100
46 Mets
Jets Knicks Rangers .099
47
Nets .096
48 Mets
Jets Knicks .093
49 Mets
Jets Nets Rangers .090
50 Mets
Jets Knicks Islanders .089
51 Mets
Jets Rangers .088
52 Mets
Jets Nets .081
53 Mets
Jets Nets Islanders .079
54t Mets
Jets Islanders .074
54t
Islanders .074
54t Mets Jets .074
57
Jets .047

islandersBy far, a pure Yankees fan has had the most happiness the past 25 years in NYC. This is followed by the Yankees-Giants fans not interested in basketball or hockey. Throw in the Devils hockey fans with that combination and you are just as happy. The best four-team combo, unsurprisingly, is the top four successful teams, the Yankees, Giants, Knicks, and Devils. My combination of the YGKR is ranked 13th in happiness. If I had been an Islanders fan and not a Knicks+Rangers fan, I would’ve just been as happy. At first glance, this might not make sense since the Islanders success percentage is much lower than the Knicks or Rangers, but because I would not be invested in a fourth sport and team (hockey), the success of the Yankees and Giants keep me very happy even with the Islanders lack of success. The Knicks and Rangers haven’t had enough success to override that extra sport disadvantage. Interesting…

netsOn the flip side, the Mets and Jets dominate the bottom half of the rankings. Their city rivals’ (Yankees and Giants) success coupled with the fact that you can’t be a Mets-Yankees or a Jets-Giants fan (those that are should be forced to move to a one-team city) give their fans plenty to be sad about. If you are solely a Jets fan, you have it worst; being only  happy 4.7% of the time the past 25 years. And for Joe and Evan of WFAN, well, you two have the second worst team combo.

Anyways, hope you enjoyed this little exercise. If you have any comments or suggestions, please leave a comment below (You will be anonymous). Or leave a comment on what team combo you are. Sorry I couldn’t put all the possible combinations on a chart. There are too many to list. And frankly, how many Nets-Rangers fans are there (without being fans of baseball and football)?

To finish up, please vote for the teams you are fans of below. Of course, you can pick multiple teams.

Posted in List, Poll, Science and Math, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

When is poker gambling? Analogies to investing in stocks.

Posted by silentarchimedes on December 24, 2008

Screenshot of Texas Hold'em Poker 3D

Screenshot of Texas Hold'em Poker 3D

To those people that play poker for its competitive atmosphere or its mathematical excitement, it is not gambling. However, to the outsider or the concerned family member or friend, poker is gambling and any attempts to justify it are simply excuses. I am more in the former camp, but I also know that there are varying degrees of how one plays poker that determines how much poker is a game of skill versus luck. Playing poker is very similar to investing in stocks or mutual funds. A person can play it such that luck is the overriding factor in whether he or she wins (like playing the lottery) or the person can become informed and knowledgeable in all the aspects of the game (like the game of life). Educated poker is about rules, probabilities, psychology, and strategy. Educated investing is about laws, microeconomics, macroeconomics, markets, company details, management details, buying strategy, and selling strategy.

Poker and investing is gambling when…

1a. You pick random hands to play even when the odds are against you.
1b. You pick a random company to invest in.

2a. Even when you know you have a losing hand you keep raising and hope to bluff or scare your opponent into leaving the hand. In other words, you risk going down with the ship. You don’t know when to cut your losses.
2b. The company you invested in keeps missing its target numbers. Instead of cutting your losses, you hope for a turnaround that seems further and further out of reach. You don’t know when to cut your losses.

3a. You don’t even know the probabilities well enough and what the odds are of the next community card being in your favor. You are playing blind, so to speak.
3b. You know what the company basically does, but you don’t read its quarterly reports or anything about P/E ratios, operational cash flow, debt levels, etc. You will be blind to micro-economic problems that can drop the stock like a rock.

4a. You misjudge your opponents’ hands. Being too optimistic in your chances, you turn blind to the fact that your opponent might be holding a pair of Kings because you are hoping that two diamonds come down on the turn and river.
4b. You become attached to the company you invested in and are blind to emerging companies with better technologies or other competitors whose pipeline is looking better than your company.

5a. You keep losing hands. Your track record of winning in poker is below 50%. However, you have a hard time stopping and your losses eat inside you even when it’s over.
5b. You keep losing money in your investments. Your track record of picking sound investments is below 50%. However, you have a hard time letting go and you keep pouring in money into the same losing investments.

6a. You have no long-term poker-playing strategy or your strategy is not working. However, you ignore this or you have blind faith that it will eventually turn in your favor. Gambling is about false hope, blind attachment and ignorance of your true abilities.
6b. You have no long-term investment strategy or your strategy is not working. You know when to buy but have a hard time determining when to sell.

7a. You are too emotional. You take losing hands very hard. They eat inside you hours or days afterwards.
7b. You are too emotional. You take losing investments very hard. They eat inside you for days and even months afterwards.

8a. You are too risky. You regret bets that don’t pan out. You wish you didn’t plop down $20 on a hand that you knew you’d probably lose anyways.
8b. You are too risky. You regret investments that don’t pan out. You wish you didn’t plop all that money on a technology that had only a tiny chance of succeeding.

.

I like the saying that poker is short-term luck and long-term skill. The goal for the player is to decrease the length of that short-term luck to as short as possible. By maximizing skill, you minimize luck, and the game becomes less about gambling and put you more in control of the outcomes. The problem with playing the lottery or slot machines is that no matter how much you learn or the type of intricate strategy you use, the big chunk of luck can never be reduced. However, poker and investing can be done such that the luck or gambling aspects of the game is greatly reduced.

Why do you think the same poker players are at the final table in poker tournaments all the time? Doyle Brunson? Why do you think investors like Warren Buffet are consistent winners in their investments? The homework those guys do can be loosely equated to Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods’ attention to detail.

Good luck! Well, good skill!

Related link:

The Mirage of the Martingale

Posted in Economics, Ethics, List, Other, Reviews, Science and Math, Technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

2008 Year in Review – Top 10 in Finance

Posted by silentarchimedes on December 22, 2008

Let’s get right to it.

10. Yahoo rejects Microsoft’s $45 billion takeover offer – February 11, 2008. This one has to rank as one of the most stupid business decisions ever. Since Yahoo practically started the internet search business back in the 1990s, they have quickly given up their dominant position to Google in the past ten years without a major fight. By the middle of 2007, Google had a 53.6% market share of the search engine business, versus Yahoo’s rapidly shrinking 19.9%. Microsoft’s $44.6 billion in cash and stock offer was literally a lifeboat and gave Yahoo the best chance for long-term survival. Yahoo rejected the offer and a later offer in May valued each Yahoo share price at $33. Yahoo’s share price had been languishing around $19 in recent years. Yahoo’s CEO and founder Jerry Yang demanded $37/shr! Eventually Microsoft got tired of Yahoo’s demands and pulled all negotiations off the table. What is Yahoo today, end of 2008? The share price is $13.03 and Yang was ousted in November. Although Microsoft still has lukewarm interest in Yahoo’s search business, the main opportunity for Yahoo has passed.

9. Housing prices continue to go down town – It’s amazing how so many analysts and normal people knew that the meteoric rise of housing prices was due to risky ARMs and other loans that were impractical and ticking time bombs. It’s amazing the federal government did not see this coming or chose to not do anything about it. Because of the dot com bust from a few years ago and the recession soon after, the Feds turned a blind eye and let free credit run rampant. The bomb went off in 2006, and median housing prices have gone on a free-fall from an inflation-adjusted high of $275,000 in 2005 to near $200,000 at the end of 2008. It will take a good while to sort this thing out. Housing prices are still historically high and with high unemployment rates, increasing foreclosures will continue to flood an already over-supplied realty market.

8. Unemployment rate – The United States has been pretty lucky in terms of unemployment rates for the past two decades or so. Ever since the recovery from the high inflation, 9.0+% unemployment rates of the early 1980s, the rate has stayed well below 8.0%. Since 1995, the rate has performed even better, only touching above 6.0% once during the short recession recovery in 2003. In January 2008, the rate was around 5.0% but had already been steadily rising throughout 2007. Since this January, the rate has put on the rocket boosters and is now at 6.7% nationally, with no signs of slowing down. Several states, such as Michigan (9.6%) and Rhode Island (9.3%) already have unemployments rates above 9.0%! Another five states have rates above 8.0%! Stats were from Nov 2008 and look to be higher when December stats come out.

7. What happened to the commodities bull market? – Oil, gold, silver, platinum and copper. All were at multi-decade highs in 2007 and even in 2008. Since then? Crude oil prices have dropped from $150+/bl to $37/bl! Most commodities lost more than half their values. Exchange-traded funds such as SLV, GSG, and XLE all dropped more than 50%. The one exception so far has been gold. Although gold prices have dropped from a high over $1000/oz, they have not dropped below $700/oz, and have recovered into the $800s since then. Gold is an unique commodity and it appears that it mostly trades as a safe-haven currency than a physical commodity. In looking at the chart of GLD (below), gold prices have solidly bottomed out at $70/shr and is looking like it will have a strong 2009.

SPDR Gold Shares (GLD) Performance since Jan 2007.

SPDR Gold Shares (GLD) performance since Jan 2007

6. Remember the $168 billion original stimulus package? – That amount seems so little nowadays especially when Obama is bandying around an $800B to $1 trillion stimulus package. Add to that the $750B bailout package given to financial companies and automobile companies. This is a year of bailouts and stimuluses and so far they have not helped the economy. Instead, the state of the economy is at its worst at the end of 2008. The expected package by Obama will be an early focus of the Obama administration. I think most people could use an extra few hundred dollars in their pockets.

Pixar's Mater - Help me!!!
Pixar’s Mater – Help me!!!

5. The survival of American automobile companiesGeneral Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler became the poster child of the current economic crisis hitting main street. On display was the millions of jobs, especially blue-collar jobs, in America at risk of disappearing due to the recent decades of mismanagement, overhead and foreign competition of the US auto industry. With the finance industry easily getting a $750B bailout, it seemed absurd that an industry that for decades represented hard working Americans and unions had to literally beg for a few billion dollars to survive. It was obvious where the attention of politicians were. Although Bush recently said that $18B of the $750B bailout would be immediately used to prop up GM and Chrysler, the long fought battle was wasted time and energy by the attention garnering and bureaucratic Congress.

4. Bernard Madoff arrested on $50B Ponzi fraud scheme – When the $50 billion Ponzi fraud scheme by Bernard Madoff was revealed in early December, it was the main headline of major news websites for a mere few hours. Since then, as more details trickle out, the fraud continues to take a back seat to the macro-economic recession covering the globe. In any other year, the news of a legendary and consummate businessman (and a former NASDAQ chairman) being arrested for a fraud-scheme covering possibly the largest dollar amount in Wall Street history would ripple for weeks, if not months. However, with white collar crimes dominating the post-dot-com era (Enron, Worldcom, Martha Stewart, Tyco and the 2008 unraveling of the hedge fund industry), the public is now immune to financial fraud. Quite unfortunate. (See here for What is a Ponzi scheme)

Corporate bankruptcies on the rise in 2008.

Corporate bankruptcies on the rise in 2008.

3. Bankruptcies and those near it – It has been a sad year for many corporations as they head towards bankruptcy. Many of them well-known with years of solid profits. The list continues to grow and the impact of the recession on the consumer and his/her buying habits is only beginning. Circuit City, Linens ‘N Things, KB Toys, Frontier Airlines, Mrs. Field Cookies, Steve & Barry’s, Whitehall Jewelers, Mervyns, Sharper Image and Waffle House are some of the big name bankruptcies. And this list doesn’t even mention financial companies, which I discuss in #2. See this list for a more comprehensive list of corporate bankruptcies in 2008.

2. The demise of the hedge fund and mortgage finance industry – The derivatives market has become a multi-billion (if not, trillion) dollar investment industry that is complicated and largely misunderstood, even by the most astute financial advisors. Derivatives, as its name suggests, are investment products that are created off of actual traditional investment products. That means their intrinsic value is conjured up and their existence puts them closer to full-blown gambling. The current financial laws and oversight are not suited for such trading. Over the years hedge funds and derivatives took on more and more of the investment strategy of major financial corporations. Derivatives that were based on risky mortgages and insurance eventually collapsed as housing prices plummeted with lendees’ inability to pay the mortgages. The result has been a credit lockup unforeseen in decades. Major financial companies toppled and its effects are still not fully known. Major companies that totally collapsed include Bear Sterns, Lehman Brothers, Washington Mutual, ANB Financial, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and AIG.  See this list for a more comprehensive list of financial collapses in 2008.

KBW Philadelphia Bank Index - Collapse since 2007

KBW Philadelphia Bank Index - performance since 2004

US Recessions since WWII (Courtesy of CNN)

U.S. Recessions since WWII (Courtesy of CNN)

1. Recession or Depression – Which leads to the number one financial news in 2008. Are we in a deep and difficult recession or a depression? In early December, it became official that the U.S. went into a recession in December 2007. To some analysts, this is good news because it means we are closer to coming out of it.  As you look at the chart on the right, most recessions last around one year. Based on the official Dec 2007 start date, historically we would already be on the tail end of the recession. However, to other analysts, this is bad news because the worst is yet to come, and we are already twelve months into it. With no light  seemingly at the end of the tunnel, these analysts portend a long recession. Bad news from around the world keep coming in and the bottom of the current economic crisis still has not occurred. Oil prices continue to drop, gold prices have since rebounded (bad for economy), and the dollar index has begun dropping again. Signs of major inflation on the horizon are evident, especially with the massive bailouts and the Feds lowering the overnight interest rate to its lowest level ever, 0%-0.25%.

The entire 2008 Top 10 in Finance is all bad news. Most of them have to do with the current economic crisis. The key hope is that the Bush administration is finally over and 2009 brings a more adept and intellectual administration that will do just about anything to get America out of the economic dump. An administration that seems focused on the middle class and job creation. However, with it comes more and more national debt and the mortgaging of the future. There seems to be no alternative. This will most likely lead to long-term inflation when countries such as China, India, Russia and other Asian countries continue their rise to redefine the existing  economic world order. This is not to say that the United States is doomed to be a second-bit player, as we know that is unlikely. However, the country needs to refocus on what made it a superpower in the first place, investments in technology, jobs, science, and innovation.

Posted in Economics, List, Opinion, Other, Poll, Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Top 5 – Real World / Road Rules Challengers

Posted by silentarchimedes on November 19, 2008

I don’t know why, but one of my TV guilty pleasures is the Real World / Road Rules Challenges. I like how the guys get so into it, and the girls are so catty.

TOP 5 COMPETITORS

1. Timmy – He just doesn’t fit in the Challenges. He seems like an adult compared to the other guys. Says and does some pretty funny stuff sometimes though. But just an all-around nice guy that everyone respects.

2. Derrick – Derrick is the ultimate competitor and the fact that he is smaller than most of the guys makes him easy to root for. He never gives up and always competes to the limit. He can also show a sweet side when he and Diem were partners in the Fresh Meat episode. Derrick is always near or at the final challenge.

3. Kenny – OK, all he cares about is his looks and sometimes he’s an ass, but he has the funniest sound bites ever, and he makes it to the final challenges a lot.

4. Paula – Helping her own teammate but “pseudo-enemy” Susie to get the lifeshield in Inferno 3  knowing that Susie would probably put Paula into the final female Inferno? That’s ultimate team player. Plus, she’s an amazing athlete.

5. Alton – He has bad challenges sometimes (Giraffalo), but his climbing and build is too amazing. Overall a nice guy too.

Honorable Mention – Too bad Mike “The Miz” left to do wrestling. He was a fun guy to watch and usually a very good competitor. However, his last challenge was pretty bad for him. I think he had other things on his mind.

TOP 5 BAD COMPETITORS

1. CT – Way too high on himself and has absolutely no self-control. When he punched Davis for no reason before the season even started in Inferno 3, it just showed what a hooligan he is. His only nice guy moments were when he was smitten with Diem in the Duel.

2. Wes – Definitely knows how to play the game and is one of the ultimate competitors. However, a major sexist and didn’t get along with many others. Still amazed at how long him and Johana were together.

3. Beth – I won’t even waste space talking about her.

4. Brad – A CT wannabe. Calm down dude.

5. Susie/Cara – Cara not competing her hardest because she is looking out for her friend Susie and herself instead of the team? Susie picking Paula, the ultimate competitor, to go into the final Inferno instead of her worse competitor friend, Cara?

TOP 3 USELESS COMPETITORS

1. Ace

2. Colie

3. Davis

TOP 5 MOST ANNOYING COMPETITORS

1. Beth

2. Tonya

3. Tina

4. Robin

5. Aneesa

Posted in List, Opinion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Ten reasons Mike Mussina should keep playing

Posted by silentarchimedes on November 15, 2008

Mike Mussina is stupid if he retires. Here’s why:

Mike Mussina

Mike Mussina

1. He won twenty games (20-9) for the first time in his career. Before 2008, he was a borderline Hall of Famer. With the twenty game season, he is still borderline, but definitely much stronger. Another season would help his chances, even if he doesn’t win 20 again.

2. His career record is 270-153. It’s an excellent win-loss ratio, but the 300-win magic number would make him a shoe-win to the HOF, especially with his new 20-win season. Why stop when so close? It’s definitely possible for him to play two more years and average 15 wins a season.

3. He reinvented himself in 2008. He went from a power control pitcher to a finesse control pitcher along the molds of Jamie Moyer. Mussina is 39, Moyer is 45. Moyer’s record the past six years? 82-60. Moyer’s record the past four years? 54-40. I think Mussina is a better pitcher than Moyer and can be better in that age range also. Imagine if Mussina added 82-60 or even 54-40 to his current record? That’s 352-213. A definite sure fire invitation to the HOF.

4. The new Yankee Stadium opens up in 2009. It’s pretty exciting to want to be a part of that. Andy Pettitte has already voiced his desire to rejoin the team to be a part of that.

5. The Steinbrenners’ are set on fielding the most expensive and best team on the field in the inaugural season. If the Yankees add CC Sabathia and Derek Lowe or AJ Burnett to Chieng-Ming Wang, Joba Chamberlain, and hopefully Andy Pettitte, that’s as dominant as a team can get. Why wouldn’t Mussina want a piece of that action? There would be no pressure on him to be the team ace or even in the top 4 pitchers. Enjoy the next season or two.

Yankees World Series Championships

Yankees World Series Championships

5. One thing still missing in Mussina’s career? A World Series ring. He joined the Yankees in 2001, the year after the Yankees last championship. Next year seems like it has the potential for the Yankees to get back to championship ways if personnel moves go according to plan. Additionally, it seems unlikely that Tampa repeats next year. And Boston is on the decline in several key positions.

6. Mussina is the Yankees player representative. The current CBA expires in 2011, but that means discussions for the a new deal begin in 2010, and maybe earlier. Doesn’t Mussina want to make some final influences before he leaves the game to the next generation?

7. A veteran presence like Mussina and Pettitte for the young pitchers on the Yankees, like Wang, Philip Hughes, Joba and others can be very rewarding for a veteran. It’s like a power trip.

8. Money, money, money. Yes, Mussina already has a lot of it, but you can never have too much, especially when you are lucky enough to play a child’s game as a career. With the Yankees spending like crazy for the inaugural seasons in the new stadium, Mussina would get a generous 1-year, plus another year option on performance clauses. Money doesn’t grow on trees, you have to play baseball to get it. Mussina plays baseball. Get it.

Money doesn't grow on trees

Money doesn't grow on trees

9. Mussina is already old, in terms of pitching time lines. It’s not like if he retires he’s making a statement by going out on top. He might regret retiring a couple years early when he looks back on his life. As he gets older, he starts looking at his legacy and if he doesn’t make the HOF, he might regret not getting the 300 wins.

10. One other key statistical milestone is within range in the next year or two. Mussina has 2813 strikeouts. He had 150 this year. Getting 187 is possible next year, but most likely would require a second season. A 3000 strikeout career definitely helps his HOF chances.

And a bonus reason for him to keep playing? The Yankee fans want him too.

My other post on Mussina “Should the Yankees re-sign Mike Mussina for 2009?” returned a resounding “YES” from my readers. My unscientific poll returned 23 YAYs, and only 1 NAY.

My new poll asks if you think he will retire:

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Playing devil’s advocate on Obama’s campaign

Posted by silentarchimedes on October 20, 2008

I’ve been so negative on the McCain and Palin campaign (I think justifiably), that I haven’t had too much  time to dissect the negative aspects or questions regarding Obama’s campaign. Below I take a quick look at some of the issues that are warning signs or concerns or questions.

Obama once said yes to public financing

Obama once said yes to public financing

1. Any chance of publicly financed campaigns in the future are over – Since Obama changed his mind and refused to abide by the rules of public financing, he has  far out-raised McCain because of private donations, each limited to $2500. As a result, due to his popularity and his campaign’s acumen for grassroots fundraising, Obama just announced his campaign raised over $150 million in September alone! That is such an unbelievable figure. John McCain, who does abide by the public financing laws, can only spend $84 million in September and October combined. It makes sense why Obama didn’t want to abide by it because he knew he can easily raise more than that amount by himself. Why limit his campaign to that figure? This discrepancy in financing has proven to be a very important advantage for Obama because he can spend tons of money in states he has only a small chance of winning, where as McCain has to use his money wisely. Obama has also taken out a 30 minute time slot right before the World Series game six! Future candidates will see how effective his internet fundraising strategy was and will believe they can duplicate that. No one will want to abide by the limits of public financing.

Source: Yahoo News – Analysis: Obama money dooms current public finance

Money for Obama's Programs

Money for Obama's Programs

2. So where is all the money going to come from to fund Obama’s programs? – Although Obama has clearly been more detailed and specific than McCain has been on what he will do if he is elected president, it is still unclear as to how it will be done and where all the money will come from. He often mentions how McCain wants to use a hatchet but he wants to use a scalpel to cut costs. That means he will do a serious assessment of programs once in office, but as of a right now, we do not know which programs will be affected. The proposals he mentions are a common problem for presidential candidates in previous elections. They say they will spend this amount of money on this problem, but never give details on where that amount will come from. At least this is better than McCain, who has been vague at even what he is going to do. That being said, Obama’s ideas are still more practical and would better serve the middle class than McCain’s.

Barack the Celebrity

Barack the Celebrity

3. How far will his celebrity status take him or hurt him? – It is amazing the excitement that has surrounded Obama since he gave that famous coming out speech at the 2004 DNC convention. Since then he has beaten Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary and now has a comfortable lead in the general election against McCain. His speech in Missouri last week drew over 100,000 supporters according to a police estimate. Is there some anxiety as to whether this is part bubble? He has led an almost perfect campaign, from his fundraising abilities, to his calm demeanor, to his ability to inspire. Is he truly a “transformational figure”, as well-respected Republican General Colin Powell said this weekend during his endorsement of Obama or is America in need of any inspirational candidate that he has been elevated to a higher celebrity status than deserved? Only time will tell.

A Divided America

A Divided America

4. As much as Obama has inspired the country, can he really unite a very divided America? – The race is still relatively tight (in some polls, only a 48-43 lead) even with all the gaffes and negativity surrounding the McCain/Palin camp.  Why is this? Why is almost half the country still undecided or supporting a grumpy old man over a young inspirational man? As some have alluded to, race still plays an issue in present day America, even if it’s now more of a below the surface rumbling. Can Obama unite this country as President even if a good minority just won’t let him? This one seems more out of his hands and more about how much America has changed or hasn’t changed in the last 100 years.

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