Saturday, January 08, 2011

Happy Holidays from.... Your Spam

Every once in awhile I look through my spam to see if anything slipped through the cracks, and usually there's a few things in there. I was doing that a couple weeks ago on a bus trip to VA and came across this funny email. Even spammers get into the holiday spirit, apparently!

Oh my Dear, Forget ur Fear,

Let all ur Dreams be Clear,

Never put Tear, Please Hear,

I want to tell one thing in ur Ear

Wishing u a very Happy "NEW YEAR"! 2011

Let me also echo those eloquent sentiments. Happy New Year!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Shades of Jurassic Park

There's been some uproar lately over new genetic technology from AquaBounty that allows modified salmon to grow about twice as quickly as wild salmon. People are calling it "Frankenfish" and just in general overreacting wildly, in my humble opinion. Genetic modifications are nothing new, I believe we've been crossing various varieties of natural strains for thousands of years and now we can just do things a little more precisely. Also, if I'm not mistaken, modified strains of natural grains have staved off famine in more than a few countries.

There is one funny quote though in the article I linked to above:
If the GM salmon did somehow mix with wild salmon, it is infertile. “Our process that renders the fish sterile has been validated to 99.8 percent. They cannot breed with each other [because they are all female], and they cannot breed at all,” said Stotish.
I couldn't help but think of Jurassic Park! Luckily we're talking about salmon here and not velociraptors...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

As some of you may know, I work on the foreign currency desk at work, trading options, futures and spot. The following is an email exchange from this past Friday that I thought I'd share.


Dear Foreign Exchange Board worker person,
Ummmm last week I could get 40.40 THB for my USD ... and now I can only get 31.35. I'm not amused. Please fix.
Dying To Eat Thai


It is with deep regret that I learn of your distress over the recently strengthened THB currency against the US dollar. I say regret, because there is nothing I can do to help you. Currency exchange rates, as you know, are determined by market forces in the (largely unregulated) interbank market. I refer you to the Bank of Thailand, who has the power to “print currency” and probably has an interest in weakening the Thai Baht to boost exports. Perhaps your plea will strike a chord in their hearts and provoke an intervention on your behalf. What’s a few paltry billion THB to them, anyway?? Before you know it, you’ll be enjoying cheap, yummy Thai food again!

Best of luck!

“Foreign exchange board worker person”


Dear Foreign Exchange Board Worker Person,

Thank you for your prompt response and apt suggestion to resolving this dilemma. It's nice to know that at least one of us has actual influence over currency rates. I will let you know when my discussions with the Bank of Thailand have concluded, though please let me know the moment the rates move in our favor.

Yours truly,

Soon to be Bhat and Happy

Saturday, June 19, 2010

CNBC on the Mormons

Just the other day I'd come back to work after taking my Series 3 exam in the morning (got 94%, yeah!) and, as usual, CNBC was playing on the Mac that's over our desks. The anchor announced that the next segment coming up was on "Mormon Mission Biz" and, to be honest, I winced a little bit since typically media segments on latter-day saints are not as balanced or well-informed as I'd hope. How wrong I was! The segment was spot on. Check it out!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Hercules was just the beginning...

A colleague sent me this absolutely hilarious article. Apparently, Greece is so badly in debt that they've become an attractive buyout target...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

News Round-up

I came across (or had pointed out to me) several articles in the news that I found interesting in the past few days, and I meant to post on them individually but I've fallen a bit behind. So we'll do them all at once!

This story struck a little close to home, considering that I am the proud owner of an iPhone. Some of my favorite quotes:

"75% admitted falling asleep with the iPhone in bed with them"
"25 percent found the phone "dangerously alluring"
"41 percent said losing their iPhone would be 'a tragedy.'"

...and then my favorite part:
"3 percent of the students said they don't let anyone touch their iPhone; another 3 percent have named their iPhone; 9 percent have patted their iPhone and 8 percent admitted that they have at some time thought 'My iPod is jealous of my iPhone.'"

I laughed out loud when I read that last bit.

This one was a little scary, but sadly not out of character for Apple. Now, anyone who knows me, knows that I love Apple's products. But one of the unfortunate facts about them is that although they do an amazing job integrating things and presenting a polished user interface, they are absolute control freaks. That's how they create such a seamless experience for users, but it has its downsides--like calling jailbreaking "illegal". That's why I cheer on rivals like Google's Android, even though I don't use it, because someone needs to challenge Apple with a more open model so that hopefully one day they will loosen up a bit.

I am a quant. I love it, and I'm proud of it. And, incidentally, I don't blame quants for the most recent recession. . . as usual, greed was really what was at the root of it. Scott Patterson made the following statement in a derogatory light, but I take it as a compliment: "All of Wall Street is being run by quants, in my opinion." Yeah!

Minister of Exports
I don't have a specific article on this, but President Obama came out a couple weeks ago saying that he was creating a cabinet level position over American exports, with the goal of doubling them over some time period. This, to me, seems incredibly wrong-headed. The market will figure out what we should be exporting! We don't need help from the government to do it; in fact, almost certainly what he has in mind is providing government subsidies to make our export competitive. Basically, taxpayers will be subsidizing foreign purchases of our goods. NO THANK YOU. My earnest hope is that our next president will get rid of this position, or perhaps refocus it on paving the way for more free trade agreements rather than promoting inefficiency in the worldwide markets.

Apparently, cab drivers in New York are either crooked or ham-handed, because many times they are charging their riders the wrong fare rate for getting us around this great city. From now on I'm going to make sure that I'm getting charged Fare code #1 and not #4! Incidentally I find it amazing (and awesome) that the commission can keep track by GPS of the routes each and every driver took to get their passengers to where they're going.

The Wall Street Journal has a promotion going to let parents buy a subscription for their collegiate kids at a discounted rate, touting the fact that "students who read The Journal are 76% more likely to have a GPA of 3.5 or higher", as well as being more likely to start a full-time job after graduation and earn a high income.

The major problem I see with this is that old saying, "correlation does not imply causation". Personally, I find it FAR more likely that sharp, motivated students who do well in school are much more likely to subscribe to the Wall Street Journal rather than the other way around.

This slideshow was fascinating to me, mostly because I've wondered for a long time WHAT the national debt is, exactly, and who we owe it to. Now I know! Interestingly, most of it is held by the Fed, and despite the fact that we have such a huge debt investors continue to lend to us at a low rate. I don't think we can borrow forever though, and Social Security / Medicare / Obamacare seem to hang like a dark cloud over future generations...

A co-worker pointed out David Brooks to me, he does pieces for the New York Times every so often, and I found this one on communalism very interesting. Is there a way to enjoy the benefits of globalization and still maintain the advantages of having a tightly knit community of people who know and care about one another? I hope so.
Copyright 2009 The Atomic Pirate