October 31, 2011, 11:46 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I think I’m afraid of people whose ‘favorite holiday is Halloween’.

It’s okay to like Halloween and all, but there’s a certain class of person which just loves it as against all other holidays, and gets all into it, because it’s ‘the one time of the year when’ [something weird, usually].

These people creep me out. Which, in a way, is appropriate, I guess.

Don’t Be Clear
October 30, 2011, 9:47 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Rule of thumb: when someone in public life says ‘I want to be clear’ or ‘let me be clear’ about something, chances are I will find whatever he’s about to say to be incorrect, unsupported, or downright offensive.

If you want me to take you seriously, don’t ‘be clear’. Be right.

Dear Texas Rangers Fans
October 29, 2011, 12:33 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Welcome to Game 6 Hell. Don’t worry, maybe things will turn around in like 8 years when you assemble a team of brilliant young starting pitchers + almost zero offense that magically goes all the way.


San Francisco Giants Fans

On Buying And Selling
October 25, 2011, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Some basics on buying and selling for folks still confusedly angry about that Goldman/Abacus deal. I’m going to go as slow as possible:

  • In finance/investing, when you buy a thing, you have gone long that thing. Long means, if the thing does well, you do well, and vice versa.
  • When you buy a thing, it stands to reason that someone sold it to you. I mean, you can’t very well have bought it if no one sold it to you, now can you?
  • So we agree that somewhere out there is a person who sold the thing you just bought. Well. Just as you got long(er) when you bought the thing, the person that sold it to you got short(er). Automatically. See how that works?
  • Short means: if the thing does well, they do badly (they might think: golly, should have kept it!), but if it does badly, they do well (they might think: thank goodness I sold it before it went down!).
  • In other words: selling is shorting. Anyone who sells you anything, is going short that thing, by definition. It’s the same thing.
  • All of the preceding is true whether we are talking about selling securities one already owns, naked shorting of securities one doesn’t own, or shorting via derivatives created out of thin air. In every such sale, the seller (of risk) gets shorter, and the buyer (of risk) gets longer, than they were at the start of the day. That’s what buying/selling means and, equivalently/interchangeably, that’s what going long/short means. There is simply no such thing as buying a financial instrument without making somebody somewhere shorter. If you bought it, someone else got shorter the same thing you just bought.

If you have read and absorbed the above, then you will understand how fundamentally stupid are criticisms such as, “But Goldman sold them something they were going short!” or “didn’t tell them someone was going short on the other side!” These complaints make about as much sense as complaining that a restaurant serving you an egg omelet “didn’t tell you” that eggs were used in the process. You should just kinda know from the fact that, at the end of the transaction, you ended up with an omelet, and because you’re not a moron. Are you?

10 Things I’ve Noticed About Non-Americans
October 25, 2011, 7:43 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

A response to this list of “10 things I’ve noticed about Americans”, seen via Andrea Harris:

  • They hate ice. It could be 105 degrees outside and their Coke could be served out of a lukewarm plastic 2L bottle that spent the last 3 hours in the back seat of a car parked in the Walmart parking lot. Nope. Don’t want ice. Don’t you DARE put ice in their drink. To be fair, some non-Americans are from extremely poor, backward countries (like France) and so perhaps being pathologically conscious the amount-of-fluid they are getting for their 75 cents, and zealously maximizing its volume (i.e. becoming frantic at the thought of some of it being displaced by frozen water), is just what comes naturally to them, given their deprived upbringing, etc. I shouldn’t judge.
  • They think all Americans have guns and that it’s “easy” to get guns in America, despite never having actually seen an actual American with a gun. The principle at work here is, essentially, extrapolation from TV and movies. Just look how easy it was for Magnum P.I. to get a gun, for example. He had it right there in the opening credits.
  • They are fascinated by Americans, and love to learn about them, talk about them, and collect facts about them. There is no end to the list of things that non-Americans could rattle off about Americans.
  • hmm
  • (crickets)
  • Sorry I’m gonna have to cut the list short. Couldn’t think of anything else I’ve noticed about non-Americans. I’m sure there’s something. Maybe I should have spent more time researching this post.

What Europe Is Discussing
October 25, 2011, 7:17 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

They are haggling over how much money to pretend to have.

-excerpted from Sonic Charmer’s Early 21st-Century Emails to Pastorius, Cambridge University Press, 2057

October 24, 2011, 11:34 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Like the rest of you, I wake up daily with bated breath in anticipation of whether Europe will Technocratically Solve Its Financial Problems by sneaking through just the right clever accounting trick in a Summit With Important European People. Each and every day, the headlines coming in over the tape tell the topsy-turvy, roller-coaster story of the accounting trick. Can Merkel trick the German Parliament into accepting the accounting trick? Does Sarkozy want the same accounting trick as Merkel? What about European banks, does the accounting trick they need correspond to the accounting trick that the ECB needs? Can they construct the accounting trick so that it doesn’t trigger CDS payouts? Like all technocratic endeavors, it’s all so exciting and exhilirating to follow!

They do seem to be taking a long time coming to some sort of underhanded back-room agreement as to which accounting trick they’re going to sneak past the productive portion of the European public however, which is why I thought I’d chime in with my two cents as to the ideal accounting trick. And having thunk on it for the last 45 minutes and made several diagrams, I think I’ve got it, in an easy 2-step process:

  1. The EFSF (European Financial Stability Fund) guarantees all of Greece’s debts, and those of all other European countries, in arbitrary size, for unlimited time.
  2. European countries jointly guarantee all the obligations of the EFSF in arbitrary size, for unlimited time.

Problem solved, I think. Someone call Merkel.


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