October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween From Sparky

Category: Technology — jerry @ 11:49 am

This is how we used to do it here in Nebraska. I think executions are on hold until that whole “cruel and unusual” thing is figured out…:

Weird Halloween Music Video Of The Week

Category: Music — jerry @ 5:31 am

October 30, 2009

My Heroes, Part 1–Tarzan & Doc Savage

Category: Books — jerry @ 12:46 pm

I get in these little nostalgic moods every once in a while, and always having been a big reader I frequently look back to favorite books of my childhood. I’ve written here before about my first primer in school, and another series of stories I read in my early elementary years.

No author has given me more reading pleasure than Edgar Rice Burroughs–first with his series about Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, and then with his Venus series with Carson Napier and his Mars series with John Carter. (Of whom more on another occasion).

Burroughs started writing these books back in the 1920s, but they still resonated for me in the mid-sixties when I started reading them. I’m not sure kids are quite so thrilled with them any more in this age of Harry Potter. I tried to get my kids to read them, and I think a couple of the boys struggled through the first one of the series, Tarzan of the Apes, but nothing beyond that. My brother–another huge Tarzan fan–actually had more luck with his daughters reading them, as I recall.

There must be some weird adolescent reason why adolescent boys go through this phase of worshiping heroes with bulging biceps and sixpack abs.

Actually, now that I think of it we were introduced to musclebound heroes well before adolescence in our comic book heroes of Superman, Batman, and their ilk. (Colorfully and skin-tightly costumed heroes as a matter of fact). From there we graduated to loinclothed and open-shirted hunks? Freud would have a heyday with all of that.

Boy, did I want to be like them though.  (But which didn’t work out).

There were a couple of dozen Tarzan books–I read them all, as did quite a number of my friends.  (Matter of fact, the Tarzan books were the one series of books that I read twice.  I never do that any more).

There were a bunch of Doc Savage books–I think I only read the first ten or so.  Also written back in the 1930s or so, they were ostensibly written by a “Kenneth Robeson” who was actually a bunch of guys that churned the books out under that common name.  (The same thing was done, as I recall, with the Hardy Boys books and the Nancy Drew mysteries).

One of the nifty things about Amazon.com being in existence is that you can locate these old books (used).  I actually picked up a couple of Doc Savage books a decade or so ago to have the boys read, but again–no interest.  Not enough Muggles, or whatever.

When I get together with my brother, hardly a conversation goes by without talking about how much we enjoyed Tarzan.  It is truly amazing, the pleasure that a good book can bring.

Read more, people!

Tom Lehrer, Genius

Category: Music — jerry @ 5:39 am

When I was a kid, I used to have a friend who had a couple of Tom Lehrer albums that I enjoyed listening to. It was fun to find some of his stuff on YouTube. This song of his is probably my all-time favorite:

October 29, 2009

I Love Shep

Category: Movies/TV — jerry @ 12:29 pm

Man, it’s gotta be hard for him working there…:

I Want One!

Category: Music,Sports — jerry @ 11:12 am

It’s called a PANArt Hang.

Organ Donation–There’s An App For That

Category: Technology — jerry @ 5:14 am

So Richard Thaler (I’ve read several of his books) wrote an article in the NY TIMES suggesting that those people who “just haven’t gotten around to it” regarding signing up to be organ donors, might do so if there was an iPhone App for it. (Steve Jobs recently had a liver transplant). Here’s the NY TIMES article:

WHEN Steven P. Jobs, Apple’s chief executive, appeared in public recently for the first time in months, he revealed that he had received a liver transplant from the victim of a car crash. “I wouldn’t be here without such generosity,” Mr. Jobs said, adding that he hoped that many people would become organ donors.

With the help of a little behavioral economics, it is possible to make that hope a reality.

More than 20,000 organ transplants take place every year in the United States, with a vast majority coming from deceased donors. Demand greatly exceeds supply: in 2006, for example, 3,916 patients died while waiting for kidneys, according to the National Kidney Foundation.

Some economists have come up with a simple solution: a market allowing the buying and selling of organs. Because people have two kidneys and need only one to live, a robust market could greatly increase supply.

The idea may have some merit, but it is spectacularly unpopular. As the Harvard economist Alvin Roth has noted, many people consider it “repugnant,” mainly for two reasons. First, they object to the possibility of rich people buying their way to the front of the line. (The hospital where Mr. Jobs’s procedure took place said he received the liver transplant because he was the sickest person on its waiting list who matched the donor’s blood type.) Second, they object to incentives that would induce the poor to sell their kidneys.

These objections can lead to some logical quandaries. Why, for example, is it O.K. for a parent to donate a kidney to save a child’s life but not for her to sell her kidney, thereby also saving a life? And why is it acceptable to risk your life for money, say, by becoming a coal miner, but not by selling a kidney?

Still, whether you think a legal market for organs is a brilliant or a dreadful idea, it’s a political nonstarter, so it is important to obtain donors from another possible source: patients who have been declared “brain dead” but are being kept alive temporarily.

Nationwide, roughly 12,000 to 15,000 people fall into this category each year, but only half end up as donors. Because each such donor could supply an average of three organs, having another thousand donors could save 3,000 lives. We need more people to agree to be donors in advance….[Rest of article]


Want the App? It’s available on iTunes.

October 28, 2009

Stock Pick–October 28, 2009

Category: Uncategorized — jerry @ 11:57 am

Today I have a pick I’m not particularly enthused about, but I can’t find anything better: Genesis Energy, L.P (GEL).

I haven’t had any energy companies showing up on my screen for a while–and I don’t own many–so I guess it’s time to diversify.

Aaaaand…it looks like I’ll be making picks here for a while longer (Yippee!)  The whole thing with kaChing that I talked about in my October 8th post didn’t work out–leaving, frankly, a bit of a bad taste in my mouth.

I don’t necessarily want to burn my bridges with kaChing yet, but I’m more than a little miffed that they had approached me based on my record at the Marketocracy site.  And then, after spending hours of my time jumping through their various hoops (most notably writing some research for their site, filling out a lengthy application, and ultimately providing them with “read-only” access to my personal stock accounts), I was told that they would not accept my stats at Marketocracy unless I could identify each and every “dividend” payment they showed received there over the last (almost) 7 years–hundreds and hundreds of them.

Meanwhile, they went ahead with their other half a dozen or so “Genius” investors (that’s what they call them) a couple of weeks ago, and I haven’t heard from anyone since.

Anyway, good luck to everyone!

In Case You Missed It: Nightline’s “Scientology Exposed”

Category: Uncategorized — jerry @ 5:04 am

But I’m going to say it one more time–this “religion” isn’t any weirder than any of the others:

Part 1

Part 2


October 27, 2009

Weird Music Video Of The Week

Category: Uncategorized — jerry @ 12:46 pm

I need to do this with some of my old baby videos: