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  • Archive for May, 2004

    Musical Interlude: Straitjackets, Lisa Marr

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 22nd May 2004 (All posts by )

    Los Straitjackets will be on tour soon. They are coming to Fitzgeraldís on June 11. (Sylvain, no Pontani Sisters this time.) The Masked Men will be dynamite, as always. Go see Ďem. Their most recent record Supersonic Guitars in 3-D is fabulous. Go buy it.

    Lisa Marr, Lexís favorite singer and songwriter, has recently put up a website which is a one-stop-shopping compendium of all her stuff — past, present and anticipated. The multifaceted Miss Marr, we quickly learn, is not merely the premier pop songstress of the age. Sheís got some photos on there, and sheíll paint your portrait, too. She does have a bunch of songs on it, including some really great ones, so check Ďem out. Sheís got a show in LA on June 4 (ďenter in the alley in back! don’t be scared, it’s fine!Ē), as well as an upcoming European tour in July (ďa fun-filled month of movies and music in England, Ireland, Scotland and Spain!Ē). Sheís got a live cd of some show she did in Mexico. (Scroll down to the bottom: “The Here & Now Live In Mexico City CD,” $7. Lexís copy is on order.) The long-awaited ďsolo albumĒ is also still in the works, we are told. So, her ardent fans have much to be cheerful about. And, she is managing to update her site more or less once a month, which beats the heck out of once a year. All in all, auspicious signs of intense vitality boding well for many great new songs and performances in the future.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

    Paris Lawyer Pundit Weighs In

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 21st May 2004 (All posts by )

    Got a kinda funny email from Paris Lawyer Pundit (whom I have mentioned several times, including `here and here). It was an old thing that was circulating around the time of Bushís last State of the Union, about bringing the troops home and generally flipping the bird to the rest of the world.

    I responded in pertinent part as follows:
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments »


    Posted by Jonathan on 21st May 2004 (All posts by )

    Posted in Photos | 1 Comment »

    T. J. Rodgers

    Posted by Jonathan on 20th May 2004 (All posts by )

    Declan McCullagh’s interview with T. J. Rodgers, CEO of Cypress Semiconductor and exceptionally thoughtful and direct on many issues, is worth reading.

    Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on T. J. Rodgers

    Until next time

    Posted by In-Cog-Nito on 19th May 2004 (All posts by )

    Ok, end of experiment. I lost $350 on it and I’ll call it a day. I talked it over with my wife, and I don’t think it’s the right time for me to be going gung ho in the market. I tend to take big risks, and I’m not completely comfortable unless I do push it to the edge. And with a kid on the way, the edge is not where I should be. Sorry for the buildup and let down. Until next time buddy… Good fortune with your trading.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

    Gay Marriage

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 17th May 2004 (All posts by )

    I too am sick of this subject. But some things which strike me as obvious are not being said, so, even though this is a libertarian-oriented blog, and I’m an outlier on this topic, I’m going to post something. First, full disclosure. I’m a Catholic. The Catholic Church teaches that homosexual conduct is objectively evil. Can’t get much stronger than that. (The Catholic leadership in this country has barely dared to whisper this doctrine, if they say anything, but the doctrine is what it is.) That said, even that strong pronouncement leaves entirely open the question of what our public policy should be on the issue.

    My inclination, as a Jacksonian American, is to say I don’t give a shit what they do or what they call it. And, in fact, I don’t. However, by calling a homosexual union marriage, and making it a Constitutional right, the Massachusetts Supreme Court, and soon many like-minded courts around the country, are more or less intentionally making Christianity illegal. Repeat: Christianity is being made illegal. The teaching that homosexuality is a sin is embedded in Christianity. It is in the Pauline letters. There is no getting around it. I have heard the counter-arguments, and they don’t cut any ice. The Christian teaching against homosexuality is organic, it was part and parcel of the attack on the pagan society of the Roman Empire and it is fundamental to the Christian conception of marriage and sexuality. So, again, if gay marriage is a Constitutional right, then anyone preaching the moral teaching of Christianity is committing a hate crime or otherwise attacking the exercise of a Constitutional right. I object to this as a Christian, obviously.

    But, I don’t imagine most of our readers will give a damn about that. Many might say, good riddance, I hate religion anyway. OK, try this instead. Even if I weren’t a Christian, I’d object to gay marriage because it is a threat to civic peace, and because it is undemocratic.

    I can’t think of anything which will cause so much damage to the public peace and respect for the government, or to an acceptance of the government’s legitimacy, in exchange for so little objective gain to anyone. 100,000,000 or so church-going American Christians will not quietly acquiesce to having a fundamental part of their moral beliefs declared illegal, merely because five unelected judges in Massachusetts chose to revise a foundational element of a 2,000 year old civilization, with no legal or democratic basis at all.

    The mere fact that a massive issue like this can be jammed down the public’s throat with no democratic accountability whatsoever is pretty damned offensive, too. Moreover, it is a practical disaster because, just like Roe v. Wade, far from ending the issue, making it into a question of “rights” will only inflame it, polarize it, prevent any kind of moderated resolution or local variation, and keep it perpetually alive as a source of anger. There is a reason we resolve contentious issues democratically — it forces moderate, centrist, unprincipled but acceptable solutions. Doing it by judicial fiat can only to lead to massive and angry opposition which has no viable outlet. Additionally, public debate has a way of forcing an issue to be examined from all sides, which to some degree cuts down on unintended consequences. We’re getting none of that here, and there will be a tsunami of unintended consequences, some foreseeable, many not.

    Incidentally, I disagree entirely with Glenn Reynolds and others who, based on anecdotes, say the public is fine with this. I have an objective basis for this, not just my personal preferences on the matter. The fact that Kerry is ducking it and Gov. Blagojevich in Illinois is not supporting it shows that it lacks anything remotely near majority support, either nationally or in moderately liberal Illinois. When liberal democratic poiticians are trying to hide from an issue like this, which is a natural for them, you know the votes are not there.

    A prediction. This process will mobilize opposition which will make the Pro-Life movement look tiny. Another prediction: Public schools will soon (next year, September of ’05) have mandatory education in which the struggle for gay rights is depicted alongside the struggle for Black civil rights as central to American history. No teacher who does not teach and support this view will be employable. This will provoke even more, in my view justified, outrage.

    One response to the foregoing may be to say, Lex, you’re exaggerating, this will be no big deal. I wish I thought so. But, see, I know lots of liberal activist lawyers. They are smart, and they work hard, they believe in their causes, they never give up, and this is going to place a powerful new weapon in their hands to attack their biggest and most hated enemy, the “Christian Right,” including the Catholic Church. Anyway, I understand the “don’t worry, be happy” argument, but I’m sure it’s mistaken. I expect very rapid movement on this, many lawsuits filed in the next several days and weeks, and an accelerating tempo of activity. Time will tell.

    Is there any silver lining? Perversely, the backlash from all this may lead to two outcomes I have always dreamed of but never dared to hope I’d live to see: the wide-scale abandonment of the public (government) schools as the predominant source of educating American children by very large segments of the population, and the end of the abusive, unaccountable, illegitimate federal judicial “review” as we have come to know it in recent decades. Ask me in five years how we are doing on those two predictions. They’ll take time to ripen.

    Update: Quite a tempest in a teacup. I gave up on the comments around number 60. Thanks to the few who agreed with any of what I said. Thanks also to those who disagreed, even fervently, but did so with civility and rationality. That is what makes this blog enjoyable. Thanks to the rest of you for demonstrating my point that silencing or shouting down anyone who even raises questions about how this is being accomplished, let alone its purported merits, is a step that far too many supporters of gay marriage will be happy to take if they can get away with it. I did make some predictions. I’m actually more pessimistic than I let on. But, I hope I’m wrong, and that all those who say nothing particularly bad will happen are right. Jonathan puts it well: Most predictions are wrong. I promise all friends and enemies that I will revisit this topic in a year or so, and I hope I will get to admit then that I was overly alarmed. In the meantime, I’m done talking about this topic. I’m going to watch and listen for a while, as far this business goes. We’ll see what happens next.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 100 Comments »

    Just peachy

    Posted by In-Cog-Nito on 17th May 2004 (All posts by )

    David at was nice enough to set me up with a free account to use at their trading site in exchange for mentioning them if I use their ideas. Nice trade I thought, Thanks Dave. It’ll be interesting to see what they have to offer. From the looks of it, it’s oriented towards short term traders, which sometimes I am. The thing to remember with news sites is that the most important factor is the filter in your head. Take the good, chuck the bad. Easier said then done, but nice to keep in mind nonetheless. There are plenty of investment ideas out there, the key is to know how to make use of them.

    The portfolio performed fairly well today, with the long Amazon/short Overstock pair doing what they’re supposed to do. Amazon is down 2.2% while Overstock is down 5.5% for a net gain of 3.3%. Dollar wise, the OSTK short position is a little bigger than the AMZN long position, so it’s a nice bonus. Ideally you want pairs to make money in any market. You give up some of the upside on up days to hedge against ugly days like today. Overall, the portfolio is up $107.50 including all commission costs (weíre rich!).

    Amazon seems to be keeping above its support I charted out yesterday. Hopefully it will hold.

    According to the prospectus, Overstock will distribute shares to the bidders in its secondary auction on May 18, which is tomorrow. They didn’t mention a time frame, however, if they handle it like other secondaries it should be during the trading day.

    The thing to watch is of course how the trading progresses after the secondary. This is where that Family Feud analogy comes into play. What do the bidders on the secondary do with the stock after they receive it? Do they flip it at the open? Do they keep it on and hope for the best?

    It’s an academic exercise, which is to say it’s useful until the shooting starts. But itís always fun to play out scenarios. Since I have a vested interest (Iím short OSTK), obviously I play out the ideal scenario first. As of close today, the bidders of the secondary are in the money. OSTK closed at $31.04 today. The secondary is priced at $30.50. Flip it at todayís closing price, and you have a free 54 cents courtesy of W.R. Hambrecht & Co. Ideally they will be nervous. The market is topsy turvy, and that 54 cents instant profit starts to look not too bad compared to the red on their screens. If OSTK opens up anything, I would guess thereís a temptation to sell. They know more supply will be on the market since not every bidder for the secondary will hold. Why not take a little profit? Ideally it will break the print price of the secondary. If it does, then the bidders on the secondary will feel hosed. Ideally they will then want to contain the damage, and flip it ASAP.

    That is of course, the ideal scenario.

    Whatís the worst case scenario? Nobody sells from the secondary. The print price holds, and OSTK goes up. The market rallies, and OSTK gets squeezed. This is hopefully where that AMZN long comes into play. I call it bounce insurance, i.e. if the market bounces, you capture some of that upside.

    One rule of thumb I like to follow with scenarios is that usually, you take the best case scenario, take the worst case scenario, and somewhere in the middle is what will happen. Simplistic, but again I like to keep things simple.

    Can’t wait to see what happens tomorrow.

    Long AMZN, short OSTK

    Posted in Economics & Finance | 2 Comments »

    Why I’m Thinking of Voting for Kerry

    Posted by Jonathan on 17th May 2004 (All posts by )

    I may vote for Kerry solely because of his daughter’s tits. And why not? They’re about the only thing he’s got going for him. You think I’d vote for that turkey based of his inane UN-based foreign-policy proposals, his total pandering on other issues or the fact that he is temperamentally unsuited for high office? Yeah right.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 31 Comments »

    Intrade arbitrage

    Posted by In-Cog-Nito on 16th May 2004 (All posts by )

    Always on the lookout on ways to make a buck, I think I found one. I like how Jonathan put the Intrade futures quote board on the frontpage of Chicagoboyz. But the spreads between the bid/ask have always looked huge to me. For example, the “DJIA closes at/above 10750 on Dec 31” future has the bid x ask at 28 x 31. Why not arbitrage it?

    Here’s what you do. Buy a contract at $28, and short a contract at $31, or as close to the bid/ask as possible. Say the DJIA closes above 10750 on Dec 31. Your long contract will settle at $100, and your short contract will settle at $100 as well, meaning you need to deliver $100 to the buyer of the contract that you shorted. Your proceeds from the short is $31, so you lose $69 on the trade. But since your long also settled at $100, your gain on the long contract is $72. Hence your overall profit is $3. Since your committed capital is $28 + $31 = $59, so your return is about 5%. Not bad since you have zero economic risk.

    Say the DJIA closes below 10750. Your short will settle at $0, for a gain of $31. Your long will settle at $0 for a loss of $28. So you still make the $3 spread, at zero economic risk except tying up capital. Not bad eh?

    Update: Jonathan emailed me and raised a good point that with the bid/ask at $28x$31, you can’t sell at $31 and buy at $28. I should clarify and say that you would probably have to put offers out there for a little better than the market rate, for example, offering to sell at $30.75, and bidding $28.25 to buy. That way sellers who want to sell can get a price a little better than the bookmaker is bidding, and buyers who want to buy can get a price a little better than the bookmaker is asking for. So in a sense it would be trying to scalp a few points from the market. But since you have a paired long and short that will for sure settle, the arbitrage is to capture the wide spread in the market prices.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

    Crash reading

    Posted by In-Cog-Nito on 16th May 2004 (All posts by )

    Here’s an interesting take on the market. Grim reading but the guy has been right.

    Excerpt from the article dated 5/6/04:

    By allowing the official overnight federal funds rate to lag well behind the inflation rate, he says, the Federal Reserve made the worst of all possible central bank mistakes. It encouraged as much unproductive speculation in the past year as it did in 1999, when it flooded the world with dollars in anticipation of trouble from the Y2K bug. For this handiwork, he labels the Fed board “worse than the board of Enron” for its obsequious obedience to Chairman Alan Greenspan.

    Excerpt from the interview dated 10/23/03:

    The way Belkin sees it, we’re “at the end of a liquidity bubble.” Liquidity is analyst-speak for money, particularly dollars that the Federal Reserve prints and pushes into banks in a variety of ways for a variety of economic, political and social purposes. (“When the Fed makes new money, it’s like counterfeiting, only it’s legal,” he quips.) He learned long ago that it made sense to buy into a liquidity bubble while it’s happening, but that you needed to be able to identify its final days and get out a little early.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

    Our Objective Media

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 16th May 2004 (All posts by )

    I stumbled onto a truly sickening and disturbing Spectator article (registration required), written by Toby Harnden in Bahgdad, via a comment posted at Iraq The Model. Here’s an excerpt:
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

    Photos For The Weekend

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 16th May 2004 (All posts by )

    1. Jan Bussey’s photo blog, Cascade Exposures, features her photos from in and around Seattle. Lots of great macro lens images. She keeps a few albums at the bottom of her page but most of her photos never make it there. Just page through her archives. Jan’s not a professional, though she certainly has the technique of one.

    2. One of my daughters and I visited the Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles Airport about three months ago. If you really like aircraft, you should drop by. It’s not quite as impressive, either architecturally or in terms of content, as the National Air Space Museum in Washington, DC. Udvar-Hazy is sort of a branch office, a place to display some of the artifacts they have no room for at the main building.

    Perhaps the single most important artifact on display at Udvar-Hazy is the fully restored Enola Gay. This, of course, is the plane that dropped the worlds first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. In an amazing display of technological development a person can stand, as we did, and see a 1930’s era biplane hanging from the ceiling rafters, then adjacent to it and sitting on the floor, mid-1940’s technology in a Boeing B-29 – which in itself was an amazing leap forward technologically from the biplane – and adjacent to that an early 1960’s era SR-71 Blackbird. To this day, an SR-71 looks like something that flew in from the future. I stumbled onto a great photo gallery of Udvar-Hazy at Curious Lee.

    3. Finally, a small album of photos I took in and around San Diego harbor a few years back.


    Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

    Portfolio update, technical analysis, etc.

    Posted by In-Cog-Nito on 16th May 2004 (All posts by )

    Interestingly enough, based on Fridayís closing prices, overall the Amazon long is up $133, while the Overstock short is down $133. This is including commissions in the cost basis. So in essence, in a down market, the pair returned zero, which ainít great, but Iím not going to cry over it.

    Friday morning, Overstock took a hit due to the pricing of their secondary, but made up ground because the stock is thinly traded, and can be volatile. This is just cloak and dagger talk on my part, but I also think there is vested interest to keep Overstock above the secondary pricing because if Overstock traded below the secondary pricing before the secondary, then you hose the people buying the secondary.

    I think the best chart that captures my thinking with the Amazon/Overstock pair is this chart via Yahoo Finance showing their respective returns over the past year. Amazon and Overstock more or less tracked each other until mid February when CEO Patrick Byrne bought 620,000 shares on the open market to get back at hedge funds shorting his companyís stock. Smart move you can say. He owns 5 million shares, so if he gets a short squeeze out of it, it ups his value in paper. In this case, he spent $12 million to squeeze the shares, as of Friday, up $12 give or take. On paper, since he owns 5 million shares, his paper value went up by 5m x $12 = $60 million. If someone came up to you and said, pay me $12 million and Iíll give you $60 million back, youíd take that trade any day wouldnít you? I certainly would. A higher stock price also allows his company to raise more money, in this case, through their secondary. Overstock is raising $36.6 million in the secondary by issuing 1.2 million shares priced at $30.50 a share. If they issued 1.2 million shares at $20 a share, they would only get $24 million.

    Which brings me back to the chart. Looking at the Amazon/Overstock returns over the past year, they more or less tracked each other until mid February. In my opinion, the run up in Overstock is manufactured. Overstock is up 150% over the past year, while Amazon is up about 32% over the past year. Thatís quite a spread given the relative strengths of their businesses. My thesis is that the spread between Amazon and Overstock will close.

    I also did some simple back of the envelope charting using my trusty Windows paint. I know I know, a little ghetto, but I like to keep things simple. It doesnít take much to chart really, just a program that lets you draw a straight line.

    Looking at its chart, Amazon seems to have found some support in the year long uptrend, around the $41 range. The last low is higher than the previous low, which is another good sign. If Amazon bounces, thereís overhead resistance around the $46 to $47 range on the trend line.

    Looking at Overstockís chart, I think the run-up is broken. I think thereís support in the 28 range since itís where it double bottomed in March. I think thereís also support at $30 since the market likes round numbers, and the $30.50 range since they want to keep this above the secondary price. Below that, support doesnít kick in until $22 on the trend line, and around $20 where Overstock was before the squeeze.

    There is always debate over charting and whether itís of any use. I can tell you that traders use it. And a good part of being successful in investing is to be able to guesstimate what other people want to buy or sell. A good analogy Iíve heard for investing is the TV show Family Feud where people try to guess what the most popular answer given by the crowd is. Charting is an attempt to make sense of the price action in stocks. Itís about recognizing and making sense of patterns, the simplest of which are up or down. So in that sense, itís useful since patterns tell you what people think of a stock over a period of time. If you want to get fancy, people have come up with all sorts of patterns over the years. I tend to stick to the basics, since I find it useful. Thereís also expensive software you can use to chart and screen patterns. But again, itís worthwhile to the extent of how useful it is. Some people trade based on the charts alone. On days with no news, charting is sometimes the only thing shedding light on a stock. I tend to use charting as a validation of the investment thesis or underlying fundamentals of a company. So simple is best in my case.

    At the time of writing, I am long AMZN, and short OSTK.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

    What Is A NeoCon?

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 15th May 2004 (All posts by )

    The Christian Science Monitor has a primer. I took the interactive Are you a neocon? quiz and it thinks I’m a Realist. In general, I’d agree with that. Except I also believe that ethics do have a place in policy decisions.

    I was a little disturbed that the CSM felt it necessary to point out which neocons are Jews. What’s that all about?, I asked myself. Did they point out which members were Christians or Buddhists or atheists or agnostic? I came up with three possibilities:
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 17 Comments »

    Rite Matters

    Posted by TM Lutas on 15th May 2004 (All posts by )

    The Catholic Church is a thing of many complex parts. It is geographical in scope. The Pope heads the Universal Church (that’s his pope hat), the Roman Catholic Rite (that’s his patriarch hat), a diocese in Rome (that’s his bishop hat), and is a priest. Priests are subordinate to bishops, bishops are subordinate to patriarchs, and all patriarchs are subordinate to the Roman pontiff but at the same level of responsibility they are at the same level, with the same rights and privileges. Priests can’t mess with one another’s parishes, nor bishops with one another’s diocese in the normal course of things. But the geographic limits break down when you get to the patriarchal level. The patriarchs (there are several, not all of which are in communion with Rome) run different rites under which each assigns bishops to geographic territories without regard to the geographic territories of other rites.

    Thus, if you are a Catholic layman, you can elect to participate in any of the particular organizational structures embodied in any rite (though you’re encouraged to stick with your own in the normal course of things). The point of the rites is to create alternate valid structures of approaching God that fit the different styles and temperament of mankind all within the Universal Church and under the Pope.

    For Catholic laity, the upshot is that if a bishop screws up badly enough to endanger your ability to stay in the Church, you don’t have to leave the Church because he won’t permit a married priest or doesn’t address the pedophilia issue adequately. You can leave the rite and sign up with another bishop who covers the same territory but isn’t going to torture you with issues that are not essential matters of faith and morals but are a major obstacle to continuing your spiritual journey towards God and away from sin. The profound ignorance of most Catholics regarding their rite rights is a very sad thing.

    Centuries ago, there was an idea of splitting things up on ethnic lines. Thus, in Chicago, you have the Roman Catholic diocese of Chicago headed by Francis Cardinal George but you also have St. Nicholas in Chicago for Ukrainians headed by Michael Wiwchar. Vatican II, in one if its more inspired reforms, killed that idea officially and called all the rites back to what they were, particular flavors of a universal faith. The document (read it, it’s short) doing this is called ORIENTALIUM ECCLESIARUM.

    Shifting from one rite to another is not something to do willy nilly like shifting from KFC to Burger King from one meal to another. But if the choice is between exiting Catholicism and exiting a rite, finding a better rite for your particular spiritual needs is a lot better as it may very well solve your problem without you having to shift over into a whole new theology.

    The particular church that I go to, St. Peter & Paul Romanian Byzantine Catholic Church (yes, there’s a St Peter and Paul RC church as well), is under John Michael Botean whose official residence is in Canton, Ohio and who has services running under his authority from Boston to LA (he get’s a lot of air miles, I suspect). It’s an absolutely tiny diocese with 4 churches in the Chicago metro area, only one of which is in Chicago proper, the afore mentioned Peter and Paul, a mission church.

    Cardinal George, (who I’ve met) is an impressive fellow and I don’t think that there are very many people in his territory who would take the opportunity to jump to another rite because I don’t see there being much of a need with him. But clearly not all bishops are so well qualified.

    Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Rite Matters

    ď[T]he ‘Anglosphere’, to use the current buzzword.Ē

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 14th May 2004 (All posts by )

    The Telegraph has an editorial, ďBritain belongs in the English-speaking world,Ē which is right on the money. It notes Mr. Blairís ongoing commitment to the Anglo-American effort in Iraq, in defiance of any narrow political calculation. It notes also that, on its European flank, despite Mr. Blairís best efforts, ďBritain finds itself in its traditional position within the EU: isolated and resented.Ē It then raises the over-arching question: ďMr Blair faces the same dilemma as each of his predecessors since Churchill: is Britain to be part of a European bloc, or are we to retain our links to the wider English-speaking world? Are we a continental power or a maritime one?Ē Mr. Blair, however, can no longer have it both ways. The Europeans are, reasonably enough, going to demand a yes or no answer to whether Britain is going to be part of a much more integrated, unitary European entity.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 14 Comments »


    Posted by James R. Rummel on 14th May 2004 (All posts by )

    In this post I talked about how Canada’s strict drug pricing laws allows them to be free riders. They get cutting edge medical products without having to deal with the costs of liability or development.

    Now Damien Penny has pointed out an outraged op-ed in the Toronto Star. It would appear that some editor has his panties in a bunch because the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation plans to build the clinic on land it owns in Saskatoon. The clinic will be a for-profit facility, just like we have in America!

    How can they do this, being in Canada and all? Well, it would appear that the Canadian government granted the Native Americans a great deal of autonomy in self governing, even in the way they run their own health care system. So now they want to actually make some money off of it. You know, the American dream. Apparently that’s something that the Canadians just can’t allow to happen.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

    Coup de Theatre

    Posted by Andy B on 14th May 2004 (All posts by )

    My friend Drew is at it again. I love him like a brother, which is probably why he can get me so agitated. Drew’s web journal is a daily dose of “useless market insights” (his words not mine), mixed with a dollop of anti-U.S., anti-Bush/Rove/Rumsfeld/Wolf/Rice/Etc. diatribe. Today’s topic is the Lt. Cl. Charles Dunlap essay and Sidney Blumenthal’s column insinuating that this essay is currently circulating among top US military strategists. I trust that most of you are familiar with the Dunlap piece, a fairly fantastic work of fiction. Reading it today, I was struck by how dated the work seems despite having been written only 12 years ago.
    However, there are some nuggets, one of which is particularly paradoxical:

    advocates of “political correctness” succeeded in driving ROTC from the campuses of some of our best universities.{117} In many instances they also prevailed in barring military recruiters from campus.{118} Little thought was given the long-term consequences of limiting the pool from which military leadership is drawn.{119} The end result was much more homogeneous military elite whose outlook was progressively dissimilar to that of the nationís more broadly-based civilian leadership.

    In sum, an entertaining read, though in my opinion, not all that long on foresight.

    Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Coup de Theatre


    Posted by James R. Rummel on 14th May 2004 (All posts by )

    There’s an op-ed I found interesting in the Thursday, May 13 2004 edition of the Wall Street Journal. It’s by Jose Ramos-Horta, the 1996 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

    Mr. Ramos-Horta states that it’s bad news now that Spain, the Dominican Republic and Honduras have all pulled out of Iraq. He says that every Coalition member that drops the ball sends a message to the terrorists that we’re weak and they can win this if they just go the extra mile.

    That’s a good point, and he makes several more. He favors the use of force to stop depraved dictators, for example. But he lost me when it came to the last few paragraphs.

    “Now is the time for Washington to show leadership by ensuring that the UN plays the central role in building a new Iraq.” (snip) “The UN is the sum of our qualities and weaknesses, our selfish national interests and personal vanities. For all its shortcomings, it is the only international organization that we all feel part of: it should be cherished instead of weakened. While the US will continue to play a critical role in ensuring security in Iraq, a UN-led peacekeeping force would enable many Arab and Muslim nations to join in and help isolate the extremists.”
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »


    Posted by Jonathan on 13th May 2004 (All posts by )

    Posted in Photos | 9 Comments »


    Posted by James R. Rummel on 13th May 2004 (All posts by )

    Gotta go through some backstory first. Bear with me and have faith that there’s a point.

    IMHO, the most influential man in all of history has got to be Confucious. He was a Chinese civil servant who came up with a system of how society should be arranged.

    Okay, boring stuff, right? But it was terribly influential, not least because it stated in very strong terms that the State was more important than the individual, and the people who ran the State were more important than anyone under them.

    No surprise that temples were built to honor this Confucious guy a few years after his death (Even though the idea of building a temple for a primitive sociologist seems bizarre in the extreme to us today.) Most Asian societies quickly absorbed Confucianism and made it an integral part of everything they did. For 2,000 years the most advanced and populous societies on Earth ran themselves along strictly Confucian lines.
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    Boston Globe’s Rape Hoax Photos, continued

    Posted by Mitch Townsend on 13th May 2004 (All posts by )

    It looks like Instapundit is on the story broached by Jonathan yesterday about the fake pictures of US soldiers gang-raping an Iraqi. It turns out the pictures were from a porn site, and presented as legitimate by a Nation of Islam loony and a moonbat Boston city councillor.

    I e-mailed both the Globe reported under whose by-line the article ran, and the Worldnet Daily reporter who exposed the hoax. I never heard from the Globe (perhaps Ms. Slack has disappeared into the Morrissey Avenue gulag), but Sherrie Gossett was kind enough to reply:
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    Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Boston Globe’s Rape Hoax Photos, continued

    Investment Journal Update

    Posted by In-Cog-Nito on 12th May 2004 (All posts by )

    Zapped by TASR

    Ok, that was stupid.

    The funds have cleared and I was itching to short this market. It always feels the worst seeing the market move without you, particularly when youíre waiting to enter.

    My first trade was to short 100 shares of Taser (TASR) at $26.71. The chart is broken, itís over-hyped imo, and holding up during the downdraft. So I figured itís worth giving it a shot. No dice. I got stopped out at $27.75. So a hundred bucks down the tube. Back to an earlier discussion in the comments section, stop losses are important with volatile stocks. Sucks to learn the hard way, but hey another mistake you can learn from me.

    Amazon/Overstock Pair

    So licking my wounds, I put on a new trade, this time a pair trade long Amazon (AMZN)/ short Overstock (OSTK). I got 100 shares of Amazon at $41.65, and shorted 150 shares of Overstock at an average of $32.05.

    The idea behind pair trades is that you try to minimize market volatility and instead rely on stock picking abilities. You donít care whether the market goes up or down, you just want your long to outperform your short. In this case, Iím betting that will outperform Ideally, you want your pairs to be in the same industry with similar volatility. So if the market completely tanks, the decline in your long will be offset by a similar gain in your short. In a perfect world, your long will go up, and your short will go down, but in a perfect world, Iíd be an NFL quarterback.

    My thesis behind the Amazon/Overstock pair is that Amazon has upside in a rally, but Overstock has less upside. In a market meltdown, Iím betting that Overstock has more downside than Amazon. So the main thesis on this trade is more technical than anything else.

    Fundamentally, Iím betting that Amazon has more clout than Overstock. Amazonís gross margins are in the range of 22-24%. There are worries that Amazon will sacrifice their gross margins to gain market share. But compared to Overstockís 10% or less margins, Amazon has the upper hand in this category. Look at their products, is just that, they sell stuff people didnít want to buy Ė and their savings arenít *that* good. I use Amazon, I love buying from Amazon. Itís not the most scientific of reasonings, but itís a good place to start.

    More later, my day job beckons.

    Update: I changed the symbols in my post to the name of the company to make it easier to read. Itís a mental shortcut that makes it easier to type up too.

    Overstock priced its secondary tonight at $30.50. Itís one of the catalysts I was looking at since more supply on the market generally puts a cap on a stock at least for the short term. It will be important to see how the stock trades after the secondary, particularly if it can hold the secondaryís print price.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments »

    Whose Side Is the Nation of Islam On?

    Posted by Jonathan on 12th May 2004 (All posts by )

    This story raises legitimate questions. The establishment press tends to ignore the NOI’s thuggishness and anti-Americanism, and I suspect now will downplay the obvious (to the rest of us) national-security angle. This organization deserves more scrutiny that it receives.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »


    Posted by James R. Rummel on 11th May 2004 (All posts by )

    So Brigitte Bardot is a French screen goddess, but that sells her short. She’s an activist, a tireless promoter of animal rights, and a best selling author.

    It’s that last that got her in trouble. She wrote a book that addressed a variety of subjects, one of which was Islamic culture. Bardot stated in the book that she was against undue Islamic influences in French culture.

    Well, why not? A successful businesswoman and artist such as herself. What kind of chance would such a talented female have to shine in an Islamic state? One thing is certain, she would have never risen to her level if she was born into a government that practiced sharia.

    But the French courts have decided that this incites violence against Muslims. Bardot has come up against anti-hate speech laws. She’ll probably be convicted.

    I don’t have much to say about this. it pretty much speaks for itself.

    (Hat tip to Mike Spenis at The Feces Flinging Monkey.)

    Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments »