November 30, 2006
November 29, 2006
Â Â Â Â The Marketocracy site, of which I write so much aboutÂ here, along with its founder Ken Kam, are featured in a Washington Post article I have excerpted below.
Â Â Â Â I like the bit about the selection process being somewhat like American Idol, since I am–to the ridicule of my friends–a huge fan of the tv show, and almost never miss an episode.
Multi-Cap Funds Seek Middle Ground
NEW YORK — Ken Kam, a portfolio manager, remembers the date before the tech stock bubble imploded, when he warned his closest friends and family it was time to get out of tech stocks. March 18, 2000, was his wedding day and he made the prescient call during a toast at the reception.
Though not the typical stuff of wedding speeches, Kam felt compelled to give the advice because so many friends and family had accepted his guidance during the five years in which he oversaw a technology fund. Toward the end of running that fund, however, he felt increasingly constrained by the fund’s singular focus on technology stocks.
He now oversees what is often referred to as a multi-cap or all-cap fund and contends investors are often better served when managers are free to pursue a broader investment strategy rather than being limited to a particular type of stock or asset class.
Â Â Â I knew it!
Â Â Â Â From the NY Times site:
Â Â “Money canâ€™t buy happiness, or so the saying goes. But it may not be true.
Â Â Â “Ed Diener, a University of Illinois psychologist, said that the connection was complex but that very rich people rated substantially higher in satisfaction with life than very poor people did, even within wealthy nations.
â€œ ‘There is overwhelming evidence that money buys happiness,â€ said Andrew Oswald, an economist with the University of Warwick, in England. The debate, he said, is how strong the effect is.
“Professor Oswald reported a study of Britons who won $2,000 to $250,000 in a lottery. They showed an increase in happiness averaging just more than a point on a 36-point scale two years later.
“Daniel Kahneman, an economist at Princeton and a winner of the Nobel in economic science, and colleagues declared that the notion that making a lot of money would produce a good overall mood was â€œmostly illusory.â€
“In one study, they said, people with household incomes of $90,000 or more were only slightly more likely to call themselves very happy over all than were people from households making $50,000 to $89,999 â€” 43 percent to 42 percent. (Members of the first group were nearly twice as likely to be â€œvery happyâ€ as people from households with incomes below $20,000.)
“Other studies, rather than asking for a summary estimate of happiness, followed people and repeatedly recorded their feelings. These studies show a smaller effect of income on happiness, Professor Kahneman and his colleagues said.
“There is another twist to the story of money and happiness. Even though people who make $150,000 are considerably happier than those who make $40,000, it is not clear why, said Richard E. Lucas, a psychologist at Michigan State University.
“Does money make someone happier? Or does being happier allow someone to earn more money?
“In any case, researchers say moneyâ€™s effect is small. â€œItâ€™s much better advice, if youâ€™re looking for happiness in life, to try to find the right husband or wife rather than trying to double your salary,â€ Professor Oswald said.
November 28, 2006
Â Â Â Â You always wanted to know.
Â Â Â Â And now you do.
Â Â Â Â You’re welcome.Â
November 27, 2006
Â Â Â Â I don’t really know much at all about this gentleman–except that he is perhaps the most “charismatic” politician out there right now.Â It has been a while since we had one of those.Â (Well, Bill Clinton pre-Monica; John Edwards; and, yeah, The Gipper).
Â Â Â Places 2nd in the polls behind Hillary right now.Â Â But, you know–she’s a woman, he’s African-American.Â Â Â What chance do they have in George W’s America?Â So, I haven’t gotten that excited about the next Presidential election yet, and, matter of fact,Â have already been discouragedÂ and thinkingÂ McCain, Giuliani, or Hagel will probably get it.Â These last two Presidential elections have taken their toll on my psyche…
But then I was browsing the Freakonomics BlogÂ just now and the author of the FREAKONOMICS book–probably the most interesting book I’ve read in the last couple of years–gives Obama’s book THE AUDACITY OF HOPE a rave review.Â I have a lot of respect for Steven Levitt, author of FREAKONOMICS—so I’m heading over to Amazon right now to check out Mr. Obama.Â Dare I be so audacious as to hope?Â Here’s the Freakonomics review:
If Barack Obama is as good a politician as he is a writer, he will soon be President
This is not a political blog. I have no interest in politics. But I have been reading a great book that happens to be written by a politician.Â Â Â
The first time I heard of Barack Obama is when I saw his name springing up on those political signs people put in their front yards in election years. I knew nothing about him except that he was affiliated with the University of Chicago law school and he was running some hopeless campaign for the U.S. Senate. I figured the support he was getting in my home town at the time was probably the only support he would get in the whole state. The city I lived in, Oak Park, is left wing to the point of comedy at times. For instance, as you cross into the city, a sign informs you that you are entering a nuclear-free zone. I thought it would take little more than him having a name like â€œBarack Obamaâ€ to win over the folks in Oak Park.
I was not paying any attention to the Senate race when I happened to get called at random for a poll being conducted by the Chicago Tribune. They asked me who I was going to vote for in the upcoming Senate election. Just out of sympathy and loyalty to the University of Chicago, I said I would vote for Obama. That way, when the results of the poll came out, he would have a few percent of the electorate behind him and he wouldnâ€™t feel so bad. I was flabbergasted when I saw the results of the poll on the front-page of the newspaper a few days later: Obama was in the lead for the democratic primary! (This, of course, was well before he got tapped to give the keynote address at the Democratic convention.)
I am not very interested in politics, so I didnâ€™t pay much attention to the Senate race (which eventually was a landslide with Obama crushingâ€”of all peopleâ€”Alan Keyes). I saw him give two speeches: the Democratic convention one and his acceptance speech the night he won. Both times, I felt like he cast some sort of spell over me. When he spoke, I wanted to believe him. I canâ€™t remember another politician ever having that effect on me. One friend, who knows Barack and who also knew Bobby Kennedy, said he had not seen anyone like Kennedy until he met Barack.
Anyway, all of this is just a long prelude to the fact that I picked up his book The Audacity of Hope and was blown away at how well written it is. His stories sometimes make me laugh out loud and at other times well up with tears. I find myself underlining the book repeatedly so I can find the best parts quickly again in the future. I am also almost certain he wrote the whole thing himself, based on people I know who know him. I have no interest in politics, yet I am devouring this book. If you arenâ€™t giving Freakonomics as a Christmas gift this yearâ€”probably you gave it to everyone on your list last Christmas â€”this would make a great gift.
I suppose I shouldnâ€™t be that surprised at what a good writer he is because I read his first book Dreams from My Father two years ago and loved that one as well. But unlike that first book, written 15-20 years ago before he had political ambitions, I thought this new one would just be garbage. Rarely does a book so exceed my expectations. Also, I should stress that I donâ€™t agree with all his political views, but that in no way detracts from the enjoyment of reading the book.
If he has the same effect on others as he does on me, you are looking at a future president.
[UPDATE NOV. 30, 2006: I just found out that Mr. Obama’s middle name is “Hussein”, same as his Kenyan father’s.Â Uh-oh.Â His father was a Muslim.Â Uh-oh.Â Mr. Obama is a Christian.Â Whew!]
November 26, 2006
Â Â Â These pictures are all done in CrayolaÂ© crayon.
Â Â Â Truly amazing.
Â Â Â Â Go there and buy his pictures!
November 25, 2006
Â Â So after my prepubescent obsession with becoming Tarzan when I grew up–and after it was apparent that rippling, suitable-for-tree-climbing muscles did not come easily–I decided I wanted to become James Bond.
Â Â President Kennedy, after all, was a big fan of the novels–and he was cool.
The first one I read was CASINO ROYALE—the movie version of which is in theaters now.Â (By the way, did you know that there was a 1967 version of this movie with Peters Sellers, David Niven, Orson Welles, and Woody Allen–which has virtually nothing to do with the book or the other Bond films?)
The first issue of PLAYBOY magazine that I ever furtively purchased was bought because it contained the first part of a serialized version of the new Bond novel coming out: OCTOPUSSY.Â I don’t recall what the book was about, but I remember theÂ centerfold because it was not particularly revealing (not topless).Â Cute gal, though…
CASINO ROYALE introduced me to the game of chemin de fer–also known as baccarat–which I introduced to my high school friends at the time, but neglected to mention to them the significant “house” advantage in this popular casino game.Â I was always the house.Â Sorry, guys.Â The game, which we affectionately referred to as “chemmy“, is featured in another Bond book or two–so we were really cool to be playing it (especially me, since I had all of their lunch money).
In the current movie, chemmy is replaced with the currently more popular game of no-limit Texas Hold ‘Em.Â (I would add that I also introduced poker to my school chums–but we always played 5 Card Stud, which you almost never see played any more but was theÂ Â game featured in theÂ Steve McQueen/Edward G. Robinson classic THE CINCINNATI KID, which was also based on a wonderful book–now out of print, which is odd considering the popularity of poker these days).
The current movie is great, by the way, and very different from the campy, gadget-filled Bond films of late.
Ah, but those books…
November 24, 2006
Â Â Â Possibly more good stuff coming out of the Vatican.Â (Earlier “good stuff”: “That whole ‘limbo’ doctrine we had you swallow for centuries–we decided it was pretty silly, but thanks for your faith in the meantime.”)
Â Â Â According to THE GUARDIAN, there may be a historic shift away from their total ban on the use of contraceptives:
The Roman Catholic church has taken the first step towards what could be a historic shift away from its total ban on the use of condoms.Pope Benedict XVI’s “health minister” is understood to be urging him to accept that in restricted circumstances – specifically the prevention of Aids – barrier contraception is the lesser of two evils.Â Â
The recommendations, which have not been made public, still have to be reviewed by the traditionally conservative Vatican department responsible for safeguarding theological orthodoxy, and then by the Pope himself, before any decision is made.
The rethink, commissioned by Pope Benedict following his election last year, could save millions of lives around the world. It is likely to be raised today when the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has his first full discussion with the Pope at an audience in the Vatican.
Â Â I hope you read that title correctly…Â
Â Â I occasionally link articles to the almost-wonderful Wikipedia site.Â It is a free online encyclopedia that has much value–most of the time–especially in giving you a lot of information on current topics in popular culture that you won’t find in a regular encyclopedia.Â It’s “weakness” however, is the fact that anyone can contribute to it–even mischief-makers.
Hopefully, these potential troublemakers will gravitate more toward the “all mischief all the time” site know as Uncylopedia.Â Really funny stuff there–click toward the top left to have a random page pop up.Â Are you funny and full of mischief?Â Then feel free to contribute.
Serious students of encyclopedias should note that the Encylopedia Britannica has been recently updated.Â This last year I read the wonderful book THE KNOW-IT-ALL: ONE MAN’S QUEST TO BECOME THE SMARTEST PERSON IN THE WORLD, by A. J. Â Jacobs, who took a year off to read the entire set of this famous encyclopedia.Â Funny stuff.
Read and learn, people!