Friday, October 26, 2007

Don Surber has found a column about the sale of the NYT.

In my opinion, NYT is doing things the wrong way. Opinion is a commodity. It’s easy to get opinion pieces. If I were them, I would suck up the cost and send ten or fifteen reporters to be embedded in Iraq and Afghanistan with the troops. Of course, they might need to get new reporters since the cabernet and brie crew they have now wouldn’t do it. Ten or fifteen reporters doing a year rotation- a full deployment with the troops. Then bring in editorialists from across the opinion spectrum to match the national diversity of opinion. And a thick local section (sold only locally) that covers fires and robberies and murders and things of that nature.

I live in San Jose and I won’t touch the POS mercury news. It is so far to the left it makes the NYT look like the Limbaugh letter. I feel my blood pressure increase whenever I open it. And yet, I have this craving for local news that is unsatisfied. There is a market opportunity there someplace…

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Time for a flu shot- here is where to get one.

It's time to get a flu shot. Unless, of course, you enjoy being sick and miserable. Try the flu clinic locator from the American Lung Association.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

In Response to the Volokh Conspiracy's Discussion of Dawkin's Antisemetic Remarks

Volokh Conspiracy Posted on Anti-Semitic remarks by well known scientist Richard Dawkins:

[David Bernstein, October 8, 2007 at 8:39pm] Trackbacks
Here's Something Depressing:
Richard Dawkins says: "When you think about how fantastically successful the Jewish lobby has been, though, in fact, they are less numerous I am told - religious Jews anyway - than atheists and [yet they] more or less monopolise American foreign policy as far as many people can see. So if atheists could achieve a small fraction of that influence, the world would be a better place."

1. Dawkins just reflects the prevailing and endemic antisemitism in the British upper class. The only period of my life when I was called a 'kike' on a regular basis was when I went to English boarding school.

2. It is quite possible to have a pogrom in this country. I was at an event a few years ago where violence was narrowly averted. Just imagine two or three hundred people screaming 'kill the jew.' This event didnt happen in Saudi Arabia. It happened at San Francisco State University. In America. In the 21st century.(Reference: Meryl Yourish Blog )

As you may recall, Gray Davis issued a statement with a seven point action plan for combating antisemitism as a result:

"In particular, Davis pointed to incidents at or near the University of California at Berkeley campus, including an attack on two Orthodox men, vandalism at the Hillel house, an illegal sit-in by pro-Palestinian demonstrators and a spate of anti-Semitic graffiti. In addition, pro-Palestinian groups at San Francisco State University disrupted a pro-Israel observance with virulently anti-Semitic invective, posted blood libels and used their Web sites for Holocaust denial. "

I was actually at that 'pro-Israel observance' and was chased by several dozen people screaming 'kill the jews! kill the jews! Violence was only narrowly averted by the arrival of a hundred or so armed police officers.

So, Yes, I believe Dawkins is an antisemite. And yes, I think it is representative of a lot more people than would like to let on. I think that speaking with the Guardian, itself a notably anti-Zionist rag that veers on occasion into blatant antisemitism, he let his guard down. And yes, I would not be surprised to see a pogrom in America. Because I've already pretty much experienced one.

Monday, October 08, 2007

This could save your life. The best wrist mounted blood pressure monitor.

I am surprised that so many people don't know what their blood pressure is. High blood pressure is one of the predictive factors for...just about everything as we get older. Having a home blood pressure monitor can give you peace of mind by keeping an eye on your pipes without having to call the plumber, so to speak.

I recently bought this little tiny Panasonic blood pressure monitor. it's about six ounces and you wear it on your wrist. The red thing in back is the wrist cuff. You put it on, press the button, and in about 20 seconds a red, yellow or green LED lights up that tells you whether you are in trouble or not. It's completely foolproof. You can also look back at the last few results and compare against your average. Not a whole lot of features, but it is simple and excellent and actually works well. I would put this up against any device with 101 mediocre functions any day.

I discovered that I was prehypertensive, using this device. I was able to deal with the problem because I found out about it. Now if I could just come up with a solution to measure hematocrit at home...

The last time I went in to have my blood taken I measured the home unit against the one in the clinic. It was virtually dead accurate.

It's about 50 bucks here at Amazon. It comes with a plastic travel case, the whole thing fits in the palm of your hand. I have looked at many of these, this one is the only one I would consider buying. Get one, it could save your life, it probably saved mine.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

An Illustration of Megan's Law Database, Part II

I don't think people fully understand how dangerous San Francisco can be. People look at it as a tourist destination, a Disneyland of sorts. Well, there are a lot of things you need to be careful about when you visit San Francisco. Case in point:

Each blue dot in this picture represents a registered sex offender. This is a screen grab from the Megan's law database. As you can see, they are prety much everywhere. According to to the state, there are 826 registered Sex Offenders in the city of San Francisco in the city alone. Note that the state has complete addresses and for 582 registered sexual offenders. The others are there too....somewhere.

To put that in perspective, that is about the number of city buses and trolleys in San Francisco. Think about that the next time you are walking on Market Street. People wonder why tourism is down in the city and why conventions are going elsewhere. Perhaps it is because the city elders care about and focus more on wars in faraway lands than about their tax base.

Of course, some people think we should look at the big picture instead. To which I say: "Good idea. Let's look at the bigger picture."
Note: Visiting Union Square or Market Street? Check out Part I of this series looking at those areas and the Tenderloin.

An Illustration of Megan's Law Database, Part I

You would be surprised how many people are on the sexual offense registry here in California. This example shows a cluster in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco. The tail out to the bottom right is 6th St. South of Market. It is a seedy stretch with decrepit residential hotels and adult businesses.

And Vista fails again, are you surprised?

So Vista has failed me again. For some reason, IE7 would lock up when I was trying to read a website. It wasn't that I was trying to read anything strange, unless the Wall Street Journal is strange.

This time, it's the start menu customization feature. It doesn't open. When I click on it, the computer grinds a bit and then does nothing.

This is very similar to some of the problems I had earlier opening windows mail.

But I did solve the IE7 problem for good. I migrated to Firefox. You, too should migrate to Firefox. I figure I will solve the Vista start menu customization problems, too. Probably by moving to something open source

Friday, October 05, 2007

Megan's Law Database- he best check you can make before buying property

Before you buy real estate in california, I strongly recommmend you check
Megan's Law database. It is one of the most shocking things that you will see. You would be shocked, I mean blown away, by how many creepy people in your neighborhood. This database is maintained by the State of California.

this site will provide you with access to information on
more than 63,000 persons required to register in California as sex
offenders. Specific home addresses are displayed on more than 33,500
offenders in the California communities; as to these persons, the
site displays the last registered address reported by the offender.
An additional 30,500 offenders are included on the site with
listing by ZIP Code, city, and county. Information on
approximately 22,000 other offenders is not included on this site,
but is known to law enforcement personnel.

Big Changes coming!

I'm going to be cranking up the posting, with reviews of items on health, wellness, the best tools online and off. And we now have an amazon affiliate link. That means that you can buy through us and we will get a tiny cut of whatever our readers buy that we recommend (assuming you buy it through our links).

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Prosper update

So I've been lax about checking my portfolio. Things have actually improved. The weighted ROI of 6.4% is below where I should be but not terrible. I would have done better in the stock market but only marginally better in a fixed income product. Indeed, given the 18 month average duration of this, it is slightly better than I could have gotten in a CD. Still, without the 12% expected return, I don't expect to be investing more at all.

Portfolio Performance
Avg Interest Rate (unweighted): 16.24%
Avg Interest Rate (weighted): 15.52%
Experian Estimated ROI: 12.05%
EricsCC Estimated ROI¹: 6.37%
Avg Loan Age: 348 days

Avg Credit Grade (unweighted): C+
Avg Credit Grade (weighted): B-

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Yodlee- so good it's bad for me

So for many years, I've been using Yodlee to aggregate my accounts. That is, it takes all of my bank accounts, credit card accounts, brokerage accounts, mortgages etc. and accumulates them into a real time single sheet of paper view of my net worth.

Then Prosper loans came along.

Yodlee deals with prosper loans very badly. Each of the loans is listed as a negative asset. That is, each loan that I own (money that people owe to me) is listed as a negative loan, like a mortgage in reverse. It is listed under debts. That is bad because it screws up how the asset and liability are calculated. It underestimates both assets and liabilities. Although the total net worth is the same, the components are wrong.

In addition, each of the loans is listed seperately, not in aggregate. This kills my ability to use yodlee as a daily overall asset watching device. Which is a pity, because this is the best web 2.0 application I know how to use. It is way, way better than Mint.

Monday, October 01, 2007

The Best Travel Site for making Itineraries

The best travel site for making itineraries is clearly Tripit. While I am not big on social networking sites to begin with, this is clearly better than most as it provides a service which to my knowledge nobody else is providing. You merely forward the confirmation emails to it from various travel sites and it puts them together into an elaborate inventory.

For example, I built an itinerary with hotels from Expedia, Orbitz, Marriott, and United Airlines and it put them all together into a beautiful itinerary with maps and directions. it also integrates with other sites for content. While still in beta, it's a winner. I expect they will get bought out very soon by someone else, but this site does get the Kosher Wisdom Seal of Approval.