Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Pink Cute

Thanks to Grandma for the cute dresses.

Go Blue

Michigan took the CCHA tournament championship, beating Miami (OH) 2-1. This put Michigan back to #1 in the national rankings and netted them the #1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Here's the tourney breakdown:

East (Albany)
1. Michigan v 4. Niagra
2. St. Cloud State v 3. Clarkson

West (Colorado Springs)
1. New Hampshire v. 4. Notre Dame
2. Colorado College v. 3. Michigan State

Midwest (Madison)
1. North Dakota v. 4. Princeton
2. Denver v. 3. Wisconsin

Northeast (Worchester)
1. Miami v. 4. Air Force
2. Boston College v. 3. Minnesota

My predicted Frozen Four: Michigan, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Boston College


This is a nice little article from Robert Samuelson (fyi, a really smart economist guy) about why the current financial "crisis" and "turmoil" is not the beginning of the end of the world.

We just covered the Great Depression in my intermediate class, and then compared it to the current situation in the U.S.. For the current situation to generate anything approaching the Great Depression, we would have to see GDP shrink by 7% a year for four straight years. Current estimates are flat GDP or possibly a loss of GDP this year of 0.4% - and then next year we'll grow again. In the Great Depression, unemployment went from 3.2% to 25% - currently unemployment is about 4.8% and estimates suggest it might go to 6-6.5%. So even if we DO enter a recession, it's not even close to economic collapse. In fact, this recession will very likely be milder than the 1980-82 recession or 1973-75.

So why do people suggest that the current situation is like the GD? Probably because both seem to be initiated by financial collapse. In 1929 the stock market crashed. In late 2007 the housing bubble burst. In both cases the financial corporations had run up huge debts to each other to finance investments - and suddenly everyone wanted to be paid back. The credit markets seized up and banks were unwilling to loan to each other. So far, things in 1929 and things in 2007-08 look the same.

Why won't we go down the same path towards GD as they did in 1929? Here's three big reasons
1) Deposit insurance. You know that FDIC sticker on the door of your bank? That means you have Federal Deposit Insurance, to the tune of up to $100,000. So if your bank were actually to fail (and remember, Bear Stearns is NOT a bank), then you would still get your deposits back. In 1929, the FDIC did not exist, and so people panicked and started runs on the banks to withdraw their money. This was self-fulfilling and thousands of banks failed, and millions of people lost their savings. (Remember the end of "It's a Wonderful Life"? That's a bank run). Today, are you so worried that you think you should keep your cash under the mattress? No? That's because of the FDIC.

2) Inflation. Perhaps the biggest problem in 1929-1933 was falling prices. Not just slow inflation, but DE-flation - prices were falling. Sounds good, huh? Well, ask yourself what falling prices do to your incentives to spend. Should I buy that new DVD player today, or wait 6 months for the price to drop another $50? Should I open that new store, or wait 6 months until wages, building materials, and inventory are cheaper? Once everyone thinks prices will fall, everyone waits to buy things. If everyone waits to buy things, then current economic activity collapses. If current economic activity collapses, prices tend to fall - and the whole process is self-fulfilling and generates a downward spiral.

Currently, people are worried not about deflation, but rather inflation. Prices are rising, and maybe "too fast" (whatever definition you use for that). So we do not have this potential death spiral that sent the U.S. down the path to the Great Depression.

3) Smarter Fed. Macroeconomics did not exist until after the GD, because people were trying to figure out what caused the GD. The current chairman of the Fed, Ben Bernanke, made his name by explaining the causes of the GD. The Fed today understands what their role should be in this situation. In 1929, the Fed tried too hard to keep the exchange rate high (because we were on the gold standard), and therefore did not act aggressively to raise the money supply. If they had, they might have avoided the deflationary death spiral. Today, the Fed is more aware of this danger, and so is happily pumping liquidity into the markets to keep deflation from occurring.

Now, whether or not you agree with the Fed's policy of "bailing out" Bear Stearns or other financial institutions that made dumb bets on mortgages, to avoid big recessions (much less the GD) it is necessary to pump money into the economy. The Fed can try to do this without bailing out idiotic investment banks, but its likely that some idiots will get bailed out in the process. However, the actions are probably necessary beause to punish the "bastards" that did this, you'd have to endure a more severe recession.

To sum up - calm down.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Cool picture

This link will take you to a map of the paths trod by Armstrong and Aldrin on the surface of the moon. They overlaid the map with a soccer field to give you an idea of how far they ranged (not far, by the looks of it).


So Kirstin and I just got back from a five day trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico (at the tip of the Baja pennisula). No, no kids (thanks to Sue for being grandmother-in-charge). Overall, great trip:

1) Getting bumped out of our ocean-view room and put in a regular room - netting us a refund of $500
2) 85 during the day, 60 at night, low humidity. I think we saw a cloud the last day
3) Seeing whales swimming about 30 yards offshore (the bay we stayed on is deep enough to let cruise ships anchor in it)
4) Eating at Edith's (the epitome of a tropical paradise) and The Office (where you literally sit at tables on the beach). Had the best chicken enchilada of my life at the The Office - and how can you beat queso with chorizo in it?
5) Massage - thanks to getting bumped from our room, we also each got 1/2 hour massages for free
6) Free beer in the hotel fridge

1) Spring break kids arriving back to their rooms at 4am and waking me up. (I'm such an old fuddy duddy now)
2) Really, really bad 80's music playing at the swim up bar (has there been an embargo on CD's into Mexico for the last 20 years?)
3) The meat-like product I attempted to eat at the buffet our first night at the resort. Hmmmm.
4) Slight sunburn on the back and neck. Still itchy today.

Obviously a big pro overall. I'd recommend Cabo highly - but make sure you plan on eating in town for the most part. The restaurants are better and more fun than eating at your resort.

I'd like to say we have pictures of our bronze bodies lying by the pool, but we didn't even bring the camera. Trust me, I look like a greek God right now.


I'm really at a loss to explain this policy initiative in India - get a vasectomy, receive a gun license. They apparently are having great success in increasing sterilization. I guess it's a good way to reduce population in both directions: lower the birth rate and raise the death rate.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Information for Life

Just in case you were wondering, check out:

I, for instance, could probably take on 13 five year olds. I'll let you know how that works out next year when Abby is in pre-K.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Thought Experiment

This is interesting because of how it makes you think about how you think (I retyped it because the original copy is hard to read):

"How many of you have seen the puzzle with four cards?
B 5 2 J
Each card has a number on one side and letter on the other. Which cards do you have to turn over to test the rule that if there's a J on one side there's a 5 on the other side?
Something like 80 to 90 percent of college students get this wrong.

On the other hand, suppose you ask people the following: you say, you're a bouncer in a bar, and you want to make sure no one under 21 is drinking. Who do you have to check: someone who is drinking, someone who isn't drinking, someone who's over 21, or someone who's under 21?
And then, of course, almost everyone gets it right. Even though this problem is logically equivalent in every way to the other problem.
And this brings up a fundamental point about our brains. We're designed for spearing small animals. Not for proving theorems. This class is all about doing things that your brains are not designed for. The trick is to co-opt parts of your brain that evolved for something else: "You over there, you're supposed to track leopards leaping across the savannah? Well, now those leopards are going to be arbitrary vectors v in R3 space. Deal with it."

Incidentally, the analogy works like this:
B - Over 21
5 - Under 21
2 - Not Drinking
J - Drinking

Maps for Life

Just so everyone has all the information they need today, here is a map of all the area codes in which Ludacris claims to have Ho's in his song "Area Codes". Feel free to print it out for future reference. In one of the stranger reactions I've every had, I'm kind of pissed off that he isn't banging anyone in Wisconsin. Where's the love for the 7-1-5, Ludacris? Huh?

New Sins

Hot dog, more ways to condemn yourself to hell. The Pope has "updated" the seven deadly sins to include a few more ways to feel lousy about yourself. Priests should take account of “new sins which have appeared on the horizon of humanity as a corollary of the unstoppable process of globalisation”. As if lead-laced plastic toys weren't enough. (And if globalization is unstoppable, then doesn't it mean that these sins are unstoppable? And wouldn't that mean that we can't be saved? So why is there a Pope?)

The new mortal sins include
a) carrying out morally debatable scientific experiments (so it doesn't have to be immoral, it just has to be morally debatable? As long as one person objects, it's a sin?)
b) Ruining the environment (I said three Hail Mary's after putting my Fresca can in the trash today)
c) genetic manipulation of human embryos or DNA
d) taking or dealing drugs (but liqour? Well, don't worry about that)
e) social injustice that causes poverty or the excessive accumulation of wealth by a few (such as, for instance, Popes who live in their own private country surrounded by the most fantastic collection of rare art and priceless volumes of ancient learning? Honestly, what would do more for social justice - telling rich people they are going to hell, or liquidating the Vatican's treasure room and using it to fund malaria vaccinations and clean water systems for African villagers?)

Just to make sure everyone is up to date, let's review our original seven deadly sins (which contrary to popular belief were not invented by Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman) and their attendant punishments:
1) Pride - broken on a wheel
2) Envy - put in freezing water
3) Gluttony - forced to eat rats, toads, and snakes
4) Lust - smothered in fire and brimstone
5) Anger - dismembered alive
6) Greed - put in cauldron of boiling oil
7) Sloth - Thrown in a snake pit

One question arises from this list is whether the punishments are concurrent. For instance, if I am both gluttonous and greedy, will I be thrown in a cauldron of boiling oil with rats, toads, and snakes and then have to eat them? Because it may be possible that fried rat, toad, and/or snake is quite tasty. Just saying.

Cookie Primary

I don't want to shove my political viewpoints in anyone's face, but this ad asks a good question:

February Cute

I know, it's been a while since photos got posted. Here you go.

Michigan Hockey Story

Thanks to Andy for pointing out this article on Yost Ice Arena. Still my favorite place to see any athletic event. My two personal favorite Yost moments:

1) Sophomore year, and we have seats on the glass to the left of the visitors bench (towards the pep band end of the arena). On faceoffs at the goalies right hand dot, a defenseman would be standing right in front of us, up against the class to catch clearing attempts. This allows for a variety of heckling opportunities. Against LSSU one night, back when they were a hockey force of nature, their defenseman Astley lines up in front of us. We stand up, and since this is prior to the new higher glass, we scream down at Astley for a good minute or two. He gets pissed off enough to actually take a whack at Hachigian with his stick. Our entire section starts chanting "A**hole A**hole A**hole" at him. A thing of beauty.

2) Same year, playing I think Western Michigan. They suck. Cottage Inn has a "If Michigan scores 10 goals, your ticket stub will get you a free small pizza" promotion going. So Michigan gets up to 9 goals, and the backup goalie is in. Our section starts yelling during stoppages - "Let one in and I'll share my pizza!" The goalie stops, looks up at the section, and holds up his glove to his ear. We shout louder and he nods. A few minutes later, we score for free pizza and this guy is probably the only opposing goalie who ever got cheered at Yost.

Okay, so UM hockey split with Ferris this weekend, but still ended up winning the regular season CCHA championship (Red's 9th). 3/14 and 3/15 they start CCHA playoffs against Nebraska, looking for tournament championship number 8, and then off to the NCAA's, looking for Red's 3rd national championship and Michigan's 9th.

Interesting facts for you: Red's never lost an NCAA championship game. 17 straight tournaments, 9 Frozen Fours, and 2 trips to the championship game - which we won both times. Red's problem is not getting to the final Four, but getting over that semifinal game (and I'd hardly call this a problem).

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

US Weekly New Season

The next round of the US Weekly pool is upon us. We'll run basically the same rules as before. Pick 15 stars (minus Jolie, Hilton, Aniston, Simpson, and Spears) and points as before. This season runs to the Emmy's (September).

We'll add a little twist to keep people interested. Let's allow ONE roster change per month. So starting in April, you can swap out one person on your roster for anyone else you want. This will allow you to dump some losers and get a hold of the latest celeb rehab artist.

E-mail will be out to you soon, so stay tuned.

US Weekly Season 1 Final Standings

Here they are, and I'm humbled to be the one holding the spray painted gold Barbie doll. Lucky me. Here's the final numbers:

1. The Boob Jobs (451)
2. F-ing French (410)
3. Dina Lohan's Playgroup (366)
4. CM's (345)
5. Los Chulos y Las Putas (325)
6. Fourteen Freaks and a Kid (324)
7. Ocean's Fifteen (318)
8. The Good, The Bad, and the Fugly (291)
9. Papa Razzies (259)

Here are you top 20 celebs from this season:
1. Katie Holmes (51)
2. Brad Pitt (44)
3. Heidi Montag (43)
4. Lauren Conrad (39)
5. Jessica Alba (38)
6. Tom Cruise (35)
7. Nicole Ritchie (33)
8. Katherine Heigl (32)
9. Jennifer Lopez (32)
10. Lindsay Lohan (30)
11. Spencer Pratt (30)
12. Eva Longoria (28)
13. Kate Hudson (25)
14. Hayden Panatierre (25)
15. Reese Witherspoon (24)
16. Christina Aguilera (23)
17. Halle Berry (23)
18. Jennifer Garner (23)
19. Heidi Klum (23)
20. Carrie Underwood (22)