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Friday, December 31, 2010

Wishes For A Happy New Year

I'm currently in my office trying to wrap up a paper to send off to a conference (the American Accounting Association Annual Meeting, with a deadline coming up next Wednesday). I'm one of only 3 faculty in thebuilding, so it's quiet.

I'll probably knock off about 3 today and spend the rest of the day with the Unknown Family. After all, it is New Year's Eve Tonight.

On that note, here's hoping you all a safe, happy, and prosperous New Year.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow.

It Looks like the Unknown Family is pretty much shoveled out - I just got finished up removing about 15 inches of global warming from my driveway.

We did the family visit thing as usual this year, with Christmas Eve at my sister's house and Christmas Day at The Unknown Wife's family. They live in an adjoining state, but it's only about 2 hours away, so we did the day trip thing (and slept in our own beds).

Luckily, we got back before the snow started. Given my aging back (a legacy from my father, apparently), I prefer to shovel lighter amounts of snow multiple times rather than do one large one after it's over. So, I was in and out all day yesterday (about 3 times all together). Then I finished it off today. I love being in New England, but it has its costs.

Tomorrow I get back to the gym. For whatever reason, this semester has turned me into a morning person. In September, I found myself waking up at 4 a.m.. The Unknown Wife works out every day from 6-7 at the Y, so I thought I'd got from 5-6 (that way I can be back in time to watch the kids. So, I've been rising at 4:30 every day and putting in about a hour workout. I'm planning on doing a lot of cycling this summer - at least one century (my first) and a handful of 50-60 milers. The first 50 miler takes place on Memorial Day weekend, so I want to be ready to roll once the roads clear up and the weather warms. I've been putting in about 45 minutes to an hour each morning at the YMCA on the stationary bike, along with some light weightlifting several times a week. Except for a few extra holiday pounds, I'm probably at the same fitness level now that I usually am in June. So, I'm optimistic.

As for now, the driveway's clear, and it's time to get back to my office to get some work done - data to crunch, papers to edit, syllabi to write, and graduate students to torture.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas To All

A Merry Christmas to all. It was off to visit my family last night. Now, it's off to the Unknown Wife's Family for the day. Luckily, they're each only about 80 miles away - gotta love living close enough that I can plan on biking to each this summer.

Unknown Daughter liked her presents (some clothes, a rock polishing kit, some games for her DS, etc...). The Unknown Baby Boy (now upgraded to the Unknown Toddler) seemed to like his presents, but being 21 months old, he probably will get as much out of playing with the boxes and paper as he will out of the presents).

As for Unknown Wife and I, we'll buy a big screen TV after the new year as our present. Yeah, that's right - "our" present.

In any event, here's hoping you all enjoy the day, and be careful on the roads - it's a surprisingly dangerous day for driving.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Stick a Fork In Me

I'm done with my grading. Not surprisingly, I handed in grades at 4:45 this afternoon, and got my first email at 7. But for a change, the first one wasn't of the "why didn't I get a higher grade" variety. The student wrote:
Dear Unknown Professor:

I just wanted to thank you again for a really great semester. You really helped me work hard in areas I didn't think I could and pushed me harder than I thought I could handle, but it overall seemed to pay off very well with my final grade. I learned a lot in your class this semester which I am hoping will help with my future finance classes since I am a Finance major.
He struggled all semester, and pulled off a B+ - proof that hard work pays off.

I'll take it. Now back to research.

I have two papers I'm hoping to send to the AAA (American Accounting Association) meeting (the deadline's in 2 weeks), and a third I'm hoping to send to the FMA (Financial Management Association) meeting (the deadline's in about 3 1/2 weeks). So, I have three papers to work on (one's being sent to both conferences).

Of course, I still have to buy something shiny for the Unknown Wife.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Manslator

Here are two facts :
  1. The Unknown Wife and I have somehow managed to stay married for over 20 years.
  2. I recently took an online test for empathy and scored just above folks with Aspergers and high-functioning autistics.
How can I explain these two facts? It's simply that I married well above my station to a person who's far, far nicer than me.

Having said that, I could have used one of these - I particularly like the caveman voice - kinda fits how I feel in the morning.

HT: The Ace of Spades

Thursday, December 09, 2010

I need Some Advice From My Readers - Excel Topics For Class

I'm teaching the investments class this spring, and it's been a couple of years. I'm trying to add a few things to the class, and have pestered my colleagues at Unknown University (and other schools) for some advice. So, I thought I'd use y'all likewise to see what suggestions you might have.

Here's my goal: I want to embed more Excel assignments in my class, since Finance Majors can't have too much Excel exposure. So, I'm trying to add some assignments that expose them to the following concepts (note- those in bold type have been suggested by readers)
  • Data Tables
  • Pivot Tables & Pivot Charts
  • IF (and Nested IF) statements
  • Macros and basic VBA
  • Solver and Goal Seek
  • Regression Analysis
  • Conditional Formatting
  • Using some of the auditing tools
  • Keyboard shortcuts
  • VLOOKUP/INDEX/MATCH
My goal is to get them comfortable with at least some concepts that can be used to signal to potential employers that they're at least a cut above the typical student. This way, they can have samples of the output they've produced and (if they're smart) copies of the underlying spreadsheets on their flash drive and laptops in their back pockets for interviews. It's no magic bullet, but I figure it can;t hurt.

Some of the projects they might be doing could include (note: I might not get to all of this, but it's good to have aspirations):
  • Building pro-forma statement-driven cash flow valuation models
  • Profiling industry ratios (taken from Compustat) using Pivot Tables
  • Calculating "justified" price multiples using regressions of multiples on industry fundamentals
  • Estimating betas
  • Calculating a variance-covariance matrix
  • Calculating portfolio weights that yield efficient frontiers using solver (and possibly, some basic VBA)
  • Calculating tracking error
  • Performance attribution
  • Technical analysis/indicators (i.e. moving averages, etc...)
  • Describing statistical properties (skewness, kurtosis, etc...) of return distributions
  • An event study
I've lifted some ideas from Benninga's Financial Modeling book, and also read Craig Holden's text.

So, here's what I'm looking for - can you suggest any additions to the list as far as Excel topics they should cover or projects I can assign? We cover only the equity side of things (no derivatives or fixed income, since they get those in other classes).

Please sound off in the comments.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

My Students Are a Mixed Bag

It's that time of year again - the end of the semester. This time around, I'm teaching at both ends of the spectrum - the required undergraduate core class and the student-managed portfolio class.

And it looks like my students performed at both ends of the spectrum, too.

Running the student-managed fund class is always a great gig - it's small (about 10-12) and invariably composed of the best students in the college. They just gave their end-of-the semester presentation to a group of about 30 attendees (including a number of portfolio managers, analysts, and assorted other finance professionals). They probably did as good a job as any group I've seen to date. They were relaxed, professional, very competent, and they looked good in their suits and ties. They did a great job of explaining how they managed the fund and more importantly, why. There were a couple of attendees that made them peel back the curtain on what assumptions they used in their discounted cash flow analyses, and they acquitted themselves very well. In fact, there's a good possibility that one of them may landed an interview with a mutual fund company as a result of his performance (he got pushed pretty hard by a couple of the attendees, and did a great job defending himself). So, all in all, it was an excellent showing.

On the other hand (and after all, I've had a lot of econ training, so there's always another hand), my core finance class didn't do nearly as well on this last exam as they did on the second one. Some of it is probably the material (their math skills are more than a bit lacking, and this section requires more mathematical reasoning), but a lot of it seems like they simply hadn't done the necessary work solving problems. Still, there were some pretty good performances. Overall, it's a bit depressing, but it's given me some food for thought as to how I can approach the material in this section differently the next time I teach it.

Ah well - you win some and you lose some.

Teh Doggehs Rule

So far, I've resisted posting pictures of cute kittens on the blog (mostly because the things I'm likely to post will get me a call from PETA). But I do like dogs - in fact, we had a Boykin Spaniel for years named Merlin (a.k.a. "Butthead"). So, in honor of him, here's a video

HT: Ace of Spades

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Dax Locke And an Early Christmas

I was listening to the radio on the way home from my office the other day and heard the story of Dax Locke, a 13 month-old child diagnosed with terminal Leukemia. Since it was unlikely he'd make it to Christmas (it was in early autumn), his family started putting up the tree and the lights. Then the neighbors followed suit, and then the whole town.

For obvious reasons, it stuck with me. So, I tracked it down and found this YouTube video by Matthew West. Caution - it will most likely bring tears to your eyes, so be warned.



And if you're looking for a place to contribute to, this would be a good one. So open your checkbooks and spread a little cheer.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Turducken? Meh! I want a TurBacon Epic

We survived Thanksgiving with the Unknown In-Laws. The Unknown Wife, her mom, and her sisters are all good cooks, so we easily put on a couple of pounds.

Many of you have heard of the Turducken (a dish consisting of a de-boned chicken stuffed into a de-boned duck, which itself is stuffed into a de-boned turkey).

But these folks have gone several steps better - the TurBacon Epic: a 20lb pig stuffed with a 8lb turkey, a 6lb duck, a 4lb chicken, a cornish hen, a quail, bacon croissant stuffing, and 10 lbs of bacon wrapped around all the layers. It's "only 79,046 calories and roughly 6,900 grams of food coma inducing fat.

To quote Yakov Smirnoff, "What a Country!"

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

New Video on Risk and Return

I've posted a new video on Risk and Return - it covers the typical material presented in and introductory class from the math of risk and return (Expected returns, standard deviations, covariance and correlation) through Markowitz Portfolio Theory and the Capital Market Line through the CAPM and the Security Market Line. it has a table of contents, so you can skip around. Click on the video below to see it - it's a pretty big file, so it might take a while to load.


In case you don't want to view the whole thing at one sitting (it's a bout 90 minutes), the video is organized as follows (I reference the numbers in the Table of Contents):
  1. Sections 1-13 (roughly from the beginning to 38 minutes in - the "math" risk and return (Expected Returns, Standard Deviation, Covariance, and Correlation)
  2. Sections 14-25 (from minutes 38 to 75): Markowitz Portfolio Theory and the Capital Market Line
  3. Sections 26-32 (Minutes 75 to the end): Systematic and Unsystematic Risk, The CAPM and the Security Market Line
I hope you find it useful. Comments (of course) are welcome.

Happy Thanksgiving

It looks like Unknown University is all but deserted the day before Thanksgiving. I finally decided to quit swimming against the tide, and canceled classes for today (I usually only get about 30% attendance on the day before Thanksgiving in the best of times, so it's no big loss).

Instead, I told the students that I'd put up a video with the lectures for the week on Risk and Return. Once it's done, I'll post a link here. I'm pretty happy with it - it runs the gamut of topics from the calculations for standard deviation, covariance, expected returns, etc... to Markowitz Portfolio Theory and the Capital Market Line to the CAPM and the Security Market Line.

Although I don't use all this material in my intro class, I expect to use it in my investments class this spring. So, this should allow me to go a bit faster and cover more material there.

Unfortunately, I have to wait another hour before the video software is done rendering the final version and I can go home. Then it's off the the Unknown In-Laws house tomorrow for turkey overload and football.

Here's wishing you all a Happy and safe Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Kissing Up is Good Practice

It's important to be good at the technical aspects of your job. But the "soft" stuff may be even more cirtical - the ability to get along with coworkers (and more important, with bosses) has a lot to do with eventual career success.

Tow researchers (Ithai Stern at Northwestern University and James Westphal at the University of Michigan) recently published a study in Administrative Science Quarterly titled "Stealthy Footsteps to the Boardroom: Executives’ Backgrounds, Sophisticated Interpersonal Infl uence
Behavior, and Board Appointments (here's an ungated copy). They lay out several effective ways of "kissing up" to the boss:
  • Go with discomfort: Preface compliments to the boss with something like "I don't want to embarrass you, but..."
  • Frame it in question form: Ask for advice - it's just as flattering as a compliment. goes down a lot easier
  • Bait and switch: Start out by disagreeing with the boss and then gradually warm to their opinion. Instead of being a "Yes Man", be a "'No,' then 'Yes'" man).
  • Go around the corner: Find a third-party (best if it's a close confidant of the boss), and talk admiringly about the boss. Odds are, it will get passed on.
  • Look for common ground: Pick a topic (anything from parenting to religion to politics) and make unsolicited statements and opinions about the matter that you think are also held by your target. Positive impressions will lower the red-flags on future praise.
  • Look for common groups: Bring up social affiliations that you may have in common.
All in all, pretty clever stuff. Not that I'd ever use any of these, but if I were to...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving From the TSA

Luckily, we're not flying this Thanksgiving - we live a mere 2 hours from our families. But in case you are, here's a pretty funny clip from SNL.


Now take off you D**n shoes!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Yo Momma is a Data Miner

Having a lot of data makes research easier - we now have more data in easily readable formats than ever before, and an amazing amount of computing power on our desktops (I have far more horsepower on my desk than NASA had in total in the 1980s)..

Unfortunately, there's a flip side to that coin - we can easily find variables (or specifications) that seem to "predict" returns (or just about anything). In reality, we're often just overfitting the data.

Here's a pretty good piece on the topic titled "Yo Momma is a Data Miner", by David Leinwebber in which he fits a polynomial time-series regression to the S&P 500 with surprising (if you don;t follow what he's doing) good results - particularly since he's using things like the sheep population and Bangladesh Butter production as regressors.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

I Did Not Know Damodaran Had a Blog

Aswath Damodaran has written a couple of excellent textbooks (on valuation and corporate finance), both of which are among my core reference materials. He also wecasts his valuation class at NYU (available here)

But I didn't know that he also has a blog - Musings on Markets. Just a quick glance over the last couple of months gave me several good articles to read:
High Dividend Stocks: Do They Beat the Market?

Capital Structure: Optimal or Opportunistic?


What if Nothing is Risk Free?

He doesn't update regularly (but who am I to talk). In any event, check it out.

HT: Finance Clippings

Making The Grade

I was cleaning out some to the 1500+ emails I've let accumulate in my gmail account (unlimited space leads to sloppy housekeeping), and I came across this old (but still excellent) piece titled "Making the Grade", by Georgia Tech physics professor Kurt Weisenfeld:
IT WAS A ROOKIE ERROR. AFTER 10 YEARS I SHOULD HAVE known better, but I went to my office the day after final grades were posted. There was a tentative knock on the door.
""Professor Wiesenfeld? I took your Physics 2121 class? I flunked it? I wonder if there's anything I can do to improve my grade?'' I thought: ""Why are you asking me? Isn't it too late to worry about it? Do you dislike making declarative statements?''

...Time was, when you received a grade, that was it. You might groan and moan, but you accepted it as the outcome of your efforts or lack thereof (and, yes, sometimes a tough grader). In the last few years, however, some students have developed a disgruntled-consumer approach. If they don't like their grade, they go to the ""return'' counter to trade it in for something better.

What alarms me is their indifference toward grades as an indication of personal effort and performance. Many, when pressed about why they think they deserve a better grade, admit they don't deserve one but would like one anyway. Having been raised on gold stars for effort and smiley faces for self-esteem, they've learned that they can get by without hard work and real talent if they can talk the professor into giving them a break.

Read the whole thing here - it'll be part of my next semester's syllabus.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Entrepreneurship and Satan's Learning-Challenged Little Brother

Although most people know him as the creator of Dilbert, Scott Adams may also be one of the funniest writers around. Here's a recent piece that appeared in the Wall Street Journal Online where he talks about dissatisfaction as a major driver of entrepreneurship:
I wasn't suffering alone. Many of my co-workers already had active side businesses and ambitious expansion plans. The guy in the cubicle behind me was running a concert equipment rental business. Across from me was a guy running a computer tech support business. We had Amway dealers, Mary Kay sales people, inventors, authors and just about any other business you can imagine. That's not counting all of the business plans in the incubation phase. I think we all understood that working in a cubicle and being managed by Satan's learning-challenged little brother was not a recipe for happiness.
Actually, it was a hamster-brained sociopath of a boss that made me think about going into academia.

Read the whole thing here. - it's good for a laugh (and it makes a lot of good points, too).

Saturday, November 06, 2010

The Fun of The Exam Continues

It seems like every semester, I get at least one student who bombs an exam (or two) and reacts in a way-over-the-top manner. Last semester, it was a senior finance major (with a pretty high GPA) who suffered from anxiety attacks. She drew a complete blank during my Advanced Corporate Finance midterm. She subsequently appeared in several professors' offices wondering tearfully if she should change her major in her senior year. We eventually talked her down off the ledge, and she even subsequently took my Student-Managed Investment Fund class, where she did just fine.

But this semester took the grand prize. The 80/20 rule says that 20% of your students cause 80% of your problems. That would be true this semester if you counted ONE student alone as my 80%. She (we'll call her Brittany henceforth) is to put it succinctly, a bit of a Princess - high maintenance, dressed entirely in designer clothes, vocal, bossy to her friends, and simply not doing well in the class. BP informed me two weeks into the class that she's taking 18 (or is it 20) credits this semester because she needs to graduate this spring. So she "really really really needs to pass this class." She constantly whines in class about the workload because she has soooo much on her plate, and complains about any thing that doesn't pass her standards (by which she means, anything that she doesn't understand easily). And nothing is ever her fault.

Her first exam grad was a 55. The most recent exam (the second of four) was a 58. The rest of the class seems to be getting it -- in fact, as I recently posted, the class average was one of the highest I've seen on this exam in about ten years of teaching. The class has really respodned to the challenge - they've not only stepped up their game, they seem to have realized that complaining to me about the workload is like trying to teach a pig how to sing (i.e. they expend effort, accomplish nothing, and both they and the pig (that's me) get annoyed). Except for Brittany the Princess - she's used to getting her way with whining and intimidation, so she keeps trying.

After she got her exam back, (it was handed back Monday - the drop deadline for the class), she came to my office wondering if she should stay or drop. She wanted assurances that if she was "close", I'd give her the minimum passing grade (since it's required, all she needs is a D-). Unfortunately, I couldn't give her any such assurances - I said that I often make the cutoff for the various grades somewhat lower than what's in the syllabus, but that's done on a case by case basis after looking at the overall class performance, and that whether or not she should stay in the class is a decision that only she could make. So far, there's nothing new to the story - pretty much standard stuff we've all seen many times.

Then the fun started.

BP goes out into the hall and starts sobbing and wailing. That's right, wailing. You could hear her almost on the other side of the building. Of course, I stay safely in my office - there's no way on God's Green Earth I'm going out to deal with that, because there are (like Bear Bryant said about passing the football) only a few things that can happen, and most of them are bad. Luckily, one of the female staff from one of our institutes came out and said "honey, why don't you go into that empty classroom so that you'll have some privacy" (read: "so that you won't be such a spectacle"). The staff worker said that she figured that the student in question was used to using the "cry out loud and maybe you'll get what you want" card. Shortly thereafter, several of her classmates (the ones who she hangs with) came in to my office and said "don't worry about Brittany, UP - she'll be fine. She does this to get attention and to see if she can get you to give her what she wants).

Unfortunately for my blood pressure, she decided not to drop the class.

Ah well - another day in academia. At least I'll have more Brittany stories to share as the semester progresses.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The Unknown Students Nail an Exam

I've been teaching the undergraduate core finance class this semester, . If you've been teaching for a while, you know that it's easy in that class to get discouraged by students who are (pick any or all that apply) unmotivated, unable to do simple math, whiny, unwilling to be stretched, never darken your office doorway, etc...

This semester, I made a conscious decision to really push my students - since the first week of September, they've two exams, three very involved problem sets (with a lot of curves thrown in - the typical one takes about 3-5 hours to complete), eight online quizzes, and short pop quizzes (they typically last 5 minutes or less and contain 1 or 2 basic questions on the material to be covered for the day's class) on average every other day, and almost constant cold-calling in class (in a 50 minute class, I typically call on 15-20 students). I like to think that I've set the bar at a far higher level than the other sections of the intro class being taught this semester. In fact, some of my students have told me that I've brought the class together - they're getting together in study groups of as many as 10 at a time (and there was supposedly a study group the night before the first exam of almost twenty students).

I've also made a decision to teach in full-blown crazy mode. Those who've heard my bloviations over the years know that I'm a flaming extrovert that tends toward (in my better moments) impressions of Ahnuld (I Am The Denominator!), Mister Rogers, Kermit The Frog, Inigo Montoya, and various characters from the Simpsons, South Park, and Monty Python, often in rapid succession. The last few years, the Unknown Son's illness had really taken a toll on my zest for teaching (and it showed in my evaluations). While he passed away almost 18 months ago, it's only been this semester that I've really felt like the "old" me. So, teaching has been a real pleasure.

Well, my class just had their second exam, and to put it bluntly, they did more damage to the exam than the Republicans did to the Democrats in the last election - they knocked it out of the park. There was the usual variation in grades, of course (one student got a 23 - It's never when your grade approximates your age), but on the whole they performed better than any comparable class I can remember going back to the late 1990's.

So, there is hope. It's nice to see that when you set the bar high (and meet the students more than halfway), they respond to the challenge.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Terry Pratchett Quotes

Before J.K. Rowland, Terry Pratchett was the best-selling British fantasy author of the 1990s. He's written more than 60 books (either by himself or in collaboration with a coauthor). In fact, while I was at the recent FMA conference I made a comment "There can only be... one thousand" at a reception,a and found that an Irish friend of mine was a fellow Pratchett-phile.

So imagine my enjoyment at finding out there's a repository of Pratchett quotes titled the Pratchett Quote File (you can also get it in a test file here). Here's one that struck home (note that the Unknown Wife and I just celebrated our 20th anniversary):
Sam Vimes could parallel process. Most husbands can. They learn to follow
their own line of thought while at the same time listening to what their
wives say. And the listening is important, because at any time they could
be challenged and must be ready to quote the last sentence in full. A vital
additional skill is being able to scan the dialogue for telltale phrases
such as "and they can deliver it tomorrow" or "so I've invited them for
dinner?" or "they can do it in blue, really quite cheaply."
-- (Terry Pratchett, The Fifth Elephant)
Unfortunately, skimming through the quote file just burned an hour and a half of my time. I guess I really don't want to start grading the 70 exams currently sitting on my desk (each of which has 10 pages of work in it). Unfortunately, I just gave the exam tonight, and I want to give them back on Wednesday (it's the drop date for the semester).

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Irony

I regularly get together with a couple of guys from my church. We've been going over a book titled "Twelve Steps for Recovering Pharisees". It's main theme is that we are pretty much all hard-wired to find ways be judgmental twerps who try to make ourselves feel superior to those around us. So this cartoon from XKCD hit the spot.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

I Don't Seem To Have a Lot of Empathy

I just took an empathy test (the Baron-Cohen Empathy test) - I scored a 23. A high-functioning Autistic or someone with Aspergers typically scores about a 20. Maybe my wife is right, and I am simply not that empathetic. However, she could have been kidding (if so, how would I know?).

HT: Vox Popoli

Monday, October 11, 2010

New Video on Time Value

As I mentioned before, I've been doing a bit of work with screen recording software. Previously, I'd done a 4-video series on how to use the BA 2+ calculator. Well, I'm at it again.

This semester, I'm teaching the undergraduate core finance. I plan on making a series of videos on the main topics that I can then use in upper-level courses. That way, I can eliminate the need to take valuable class time for going over prior material. Instead, if the students feel the need for a review on (for example) Effective Annual Rates, they can simply watch the video. Eventually, I hope to have a library of videos on many of the major topics we cover in the intro course.

Here's the first one - on the basics of Time Value. This one covers problems and concepts related to Present/Future Values of single lump sums. If you find it helpful, let me know.

You can see my other videos at the following site - the BUS424 folder contains a number of lectures I made for my Fixed Income class. Feel free to use and share them.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The best analogy of the day

I'm a regular reader of the Rabbit Room, a blog run by a group of Christian artists mostly around the Nashville area. They're a pretty amazing group of people - artistically talented as painters, writers, and musicians, mature, deep and thoughtful in their faith, and (importantly in terms of keeping me coming back) funny as all get out.

Recently they had a weekend get together where they had a numbr of speakers (and some kick-hiney food). One of the speakers was Walter Wanegrin, who wrote a book called The Book of The Dun Cow, a very powerful story where the protagonists are all animals fighting against Wyrm, the source of all evil in their world. It's insightful, thought provoking, and funny.

One of the bloggers expressed how inadequate he felt felt discussing literature wit Wanegrin (note: this came from the blogger - by all indications, Wanegrin is an estremely humble and engaging fellow). Anyway, here's the quote:

I felt a thousand things as he spoke, which I feel incapable of putting into adequate words. I feel like a clever monkey trying to explain to Beethoven (who is deaf and dead) the joys of flinging poo.
Every once in a while, you hear a phrase that just sticks with you. I think this one qualifies, and I've been there.

Friday, September 17, 2010

How The Financial World Views Itself

A former student of mine who works at a hedge fund just sent me this. For what it's worth, he says it's pretty accurate

My favorite is how the traders view sales. Note: the image originally came from MacroMan.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam

A couple of years back, I was on the train (coming back from a consulting gig), and, being an extrovert, I started talking with a guy sitting next to me. He was a "stock tout". In other words, he was one of those guys who sent out emails pushing one stock or another. He claimed it was a pretty profitable business.

Now I have some evidence backing him up.
Here's a pretty interesting piece on the market effects of internet stock spam spam. A couple of years ago, Well, Frieder and Zittrain did a study titled Spam Works: Evidence from Stock Touts and Corresponding Market Activity. They found that on spammers "touting" (i.e. pushing) a stock has some pretty significant effects on the touted stock's price and trading volume. Here's the abstract (emphasis mine):
We assess the impact of spam that touts stocks upon the trading activity of those stocks and sketch how profitable such spamming might be for spammers and how harmful it is to those who heed advice in stock-touting e-mails. We find convincing evidence that stock prices are being manipulated through spam. We suggest that the effectiveness of spammed stock touting calls into question prevailing models of securities regulation that rely principally on the proper labeling of information and disclosure of conflicts of interest as means of protecting consumers, and we propose several regulatory and industry interventions.

Based on a large sample of touted stocks listed on the Pink Sheets quotation system and a large sample of spam emails touting stocks, we find that stocks experience a significantly positive return on days prior to heavy touting via spam. Volume of trading responds positively and significantly to heavy touting. For a stock that is touted at some point during our sample period, the probability of it being the most actively traded stock in our sample jumps from 4% on a day when there is no touting activity to 70% on a day when there is touting activity. Returns in the days following touting are significantly negative. The evidence accords with a hypothesis that spammers "buy low and spam high," purchasing penny stocks with comparatively low liquidity, then touting them - perhaps immediately after an independently occurring upward tick in price, or after having caused the uptick themselves by engaging in preparatory purchasing - in order to increase or maintain trading activity and price enough to unload their positions at a profit. We find that prolific spamming greatly affects the trading volume of a targeted stock, drumming up buyers to prevent the spammer's initial selling from depressing the stock's price. Subsequent selling by the spammer (or others) while this buying pressure subsides results in negative returns following touting. Before brokerage fees, the average investor who buys a stock on the day it is most heavily touted and sells it 2 days after the touting ends will lose close to 5.5%. For those touted stocks with above-average levels of touting, a spammer who buys on the day before unleashing touts and sells on the day his or her touting is the heaviest, on average, will earn 4.29% before transaction costs. The underlying data and interactive charts showing price and volume changes are also made available.
If you're not convinced (or even if you are), I have a couple of names of people who are related to the former finance minister of Nigeria who need your help getting money out of the country (and are willing to share the profits with you). I'll give them to you for a small finder's fee. Just send me the routing number on your bank account and I'll take care of it electronically.

HT: The Psi-Fi Blog

Of course, with a title like that, it was inevitable


Friday, September 03, 2010

Here We Go Again

All good things (and summers) come to an end - we're starting back up at Unknown University. For the first time in four years, I get to teach the undergraduate introductory course. For many faculty, this would be a bad thing (a lot of my colleagues simply don't like teaching the core course). However, I find it to be one of m favorite classes - it's easy, and I get to be an energetit and somewhat goofy evangelist for the Finance Department.

While putting together my syllabus, I went looking for an appropriate quote or two (I usually stick a few in there, if only for my own amusement). I came across a perfect one for the Unknown Daughter. As I've mentioned before, she's extremely bright (I know, I'm biased). But she also hangs out with a great bunch of kids - she and her closest three girlfriends are all smart, creative, and nice. They now can have a group motto.

The quote (attributed to Mark Twain) is:
Knowledge is Power
Power Corrupts
Study Hard
Be Evil
Even better, you can buy a t-shirt with the motto at Cafe Press.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Getting My Troubles Beind Me

Disclaimer: the following post may contain topics that are unappealing to those of a squeamish or overly proper attitude.

One of the problems with getting older is that things wear out. While I'm still relatively young, I've had a few irritating problems lately. One of them that's developed over the loast couple of years is a pretty nasty case of hemorrhoids (basically varicose veins in the butt). After all, I have a job where I sit down a lot. And while cycling doesn't cause them, it can aggravate existing ones.

So, last Friday, I went in for outpatient surgery. Of course, that meant that on Thursday I had to uses something like this to get all "cleaned out". For a far-too-detailed description of the "prep" process, check out Dave Barry's post here (while you're there, if you haven;t yet had a colonoscopy and you're due for one, get to it).

The actual surgery (early Friday afternoon) went fine - they gave some high quality drugs that completely knocked me out, and a shot that lasted until the late evening to numb things "down there". On the way home, we stopped at the drug store for some heavy-duty pain meds (Percocet), dropped me off at home, and then went out to pick up the kids.

Then the fun began. I spiked a fever (101.5) and by about 8:00, I was just about in the most pain of my entire life (and I've broken several bones, torn rotator cuffs, had multiple surgeries, etc...). Even on the max dose of Percocet, I thought I was going to (as my kids would say) "Start crying like a little girl".

Luckily, it didn't last long - by Saturday morning, I upgraded to as uncomfortable as hell, which was livable. And by today, I'm actually sitting up (albeit with an inflatable donut).

The only bright side is that I get to miss our all-day faculty retreat, since I can't sit for any amount of time. There's some irony there.

Hemorrhoid surgery 0r all-day faculty planning meeting? Let me think...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What Does The Class of 2014 Know?

When I was an undergrad (yeah, I know - a long time ago), I would often roll my eyes when a professor made a cultural reference that was about 30 years before my time. Now I increasingly find myself in the clueless professor's shoes. It's not surprising, since I've lived almost 3x as long as incoming freshmen.

Every year, Beloit College publishes a "mindset" list for the incoming freshman class. It lists some of the "cultural touchstones" are a part of the class's lives (who were mostly born in 1992). Here are some of the items on this year's list that stood out:

4. Al Gore has always been animated.
12. Clint Eastwood is better known as a sensitive director than as Dirty Harry.
27. Computers have never lacked a CD-ROM disk drive.
53. J.R. Ewing has always been dead and gone. Hasn't he?
64. Having hundreds of cable channels but nothing to watch has always been routine.
Read the whole thing here - interesting stuff, and it'll make some of you shake your heads at how the world has changed in such a short time.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I'm Still Alive (but things might make me laugh myself to death)

Because of the end of the semester, some heath issues (since resolved), working on research, and being a bit burned, I haven't posted anything for several months.

But like one of the best business tacticians of our times says, "Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in". So I guess this is my "welcome back" post.

I just received a referee's report that made me laugh at its awesomeness. First a bit of background: I sent a paper to a lower-tier journal back in June of 2008. There was no response for over a year, so I sent several emails (and voice mails) to the editor with no response. Finally, getting fed up, back in November, I sent him an email (and follow-up voicemail) asking the editor to withdraw the paper. We subsequently got a revise and resubmit another journal.

Then today I get this from the original journal (i.e. the where I'd withdrawn the paper long ago):
RE: XXXXX and the use of XXX

I have now received a report on your paper in which the referee makes a number of recommendations for improvement. Unfortunately I am unable to accept the paper for publication in its current form. However I would be happy to reconsider the paper if you were to revise it along the lines suggested by the referee. I look forward to your resubmission.

The reviewer's comments are given below.

Referee: 1
Comments to the Author

This paper examines the relationship between XXX and XXX. However, Pearson correlation coefficient that this paper uses is very ordinary. And this often does not measure the non-linear relationship for variables. In addition, the paper does not make the necessary statistical test and analysis to the studying results.
Note: emphasis is mine, and I only changed the relatively few words necessary to protect the guilty.

Yes, that is the sum total of the referee's report. I'd always heard that the main difference between "good" journals and "weak" ones wasn't so much the mean quality of reviewer but the variance. Now I have my own data point.

Next time I will make sure to use "extraordinary" Pearson correlation coefficients and "make the necessary statistical test and analysis to the studying result".

update: I told a friend and former classmate of mine about this, and he suggested that "Outstandingly Bad Referee Reports" would make for a fun session topic at a conference- particularly if we had a journal editor select the panel members. However, he suggested that the entertainment value would be much better if you could somehow ensure that (unbeknownst to each other) both the recipients of the reports and the originators were both on the panel).

But that would be wrong. Funny, but wrong.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Undergraduate Thesis on CDOs and the Credit Meltdown

This Harvard undergrad's senior thesis on CDOs (Collateralized Debt Obligations) and their role in the credit crisis was recently mention in Deal Journal.

It the doesn't say anything new, but it does an impressive job of marshaling facts about the CDO markets - the author hand-collected a data set on over 700 CDO deals, and provides a wealth of information.

What's more, she did it within a semester's time.

HT: Marginal Revolution

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Hanging Out In Scenic Dayton

I'm here in Dayton at the R.I.S.E. forum (a very large student-focused conference on the investment world), and I'm waiting for my students to get their stuff together. Since I've been here several times, I'm skipping the lion's share of the sessions and mostly just catching up with friends.

Last night, after making the obligatory pass through the Oregon District (a very funky place, with everything from art galleries to martial arts dojos (practicing with katanas) to peep shows), I went to my room to work on class stuff - my students are getting a video presentation on MBS pass-throughs to watch while I'm gone.

In the meanwhile, since it's spring training season, I give you this classic but still funny piece (complete with a mention of a lesser-known greek figure about 2:17).

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Stess Tests and Shaved Wookies

Just had a stress test (there was a minor irregularity in an EKG at my recent physical). I'd been putting in a lot of seat time (on the bike) at the gym up until about 3 weeks ago when some other problems had me stopping altogether, so I wasn't too worried. But my doc ordered the test just to be sure.

Unfortunately, they shave parts of the chest to make sure that the leads for the EKG have good contacts. And I am, shall we say, a bit on the hirsute side (kind of like saying Ed "Too Tall" Jones is too tall). So I came home with a few patches missing.

I took the clippers to the rest, and now I have nubs. TMI, for sure. But I'm all about the sharing.

I now have more sympathy for my wife.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Memoir of Gene Fama

Here's a pretty good "brief" memoir Eugene Fama wrote for a journal. I say "brief" because it runs pretty long - but that's to be expected given all the work that Fama has done.

Market Meltdown Game

We're getting close to the point where I cover the credit crisis in class, and it's also almost time for March Madness (even if my UCONN Huskies have soiled the matress to the ext thqt they'll get an early vacation)). So this comes at an ideal time - the Market Meltdown Game. Here's the article from the American Economic Association
Last August, the University of Chicago Magazine asked Allen Sanderson to create an NCAA-like tournament with four regions, brackets and seeded teams. But instead of a field comprised of basketball squads, this one - dubbed "Market Madness" - was to contain 16 competitive factors contributing to the global financial meltdown of the last two years. (Their only constraint was that The Chicago School of Economics had to be a competitor.)

To get started, each "team" got a name and a brief description as to why it was included in the tourney. Chicago Alumni and friends then participated in on-line voting in Autumn 2009 to select their personal or preferred outcomes for each of the match-ups, which moved from the "Sweet 16" to the "Elite 8," and then to the "Final Four" and the ultimate winner (that is, the person or thing most responsible for the financial crisis and recession).

With permission from the University of Chicago Magazine, the AEA was pleased to offer its members a chance to fill out their own brackets and submit their entries and pick an ultimate "champion." Below you will find the four named regions, the four competitors in each region, and a brief introduction to each team.

Voting is now closed, and here are the results! (click here for a larger version)

Read the whole thing here

HT: Barry Barnitz

Monday, March 01, 2010

Sesame Street Has Gone PC

When Jonathan and his sister were young, I learned to do the voice of many of the sesame street characters. Their favorotie was definitely Cookie Monster. FIrst, he's got a pretty cool voice (I can only do it for a while before my throat gives out, but it's worth it). Second, he has imulse control issues. THird, he's a bit of, shallwe say, a MORON.

In other words, a typical guy. But lately, they've been trying to rehabilitqate him by making him eat more fruits and vegetables (he now sings " A Cookie is a Sometime Thing". Were Jonathan here, he'd agree with the unknown daughter - "Dad, that's just wrong in so many ways".

So, in Jonathan's honor, I give you what Cookie Monster says in an unguarded moment:


I still suspect some One Flew Over The Cuckoo's nest type action - look for the scars.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

It's Exam TIme

I'm writing the semester's first exam for my fixed income class. As usual, I'm not looking forward to the grading (this time, I am NOT giving them any short answer questions - their answers are anything but). I'm hoping at least one of my students can come up with an answer like one of these:

21 seriously funny exam answers

For some reason I found this one (#18) particularly amusing. But you can choose your own:

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Professor's Epic Email Response To a Tardy And Entitled Student

Like most faculty, students coming late to class bothers me - it disrupts the class, interrupts my train of thought, and in general causes a negative externality. In previous years, the problem seems to have gotten worse - in some classes, 15% would wander in after class has started. So this semester, I borrowed a page from a colleague's book. He teaches law for our B-School, and is a former partner for a major Wall Street Law firm. He's very formal in class, is known throughout the school as a fantastic professor, and a bit of a hardass (formal, but a hardass).

So now, whenever a student walks into class late, I merely stop talking in mid sentence. I then quietlty wait until the student is seated. At this point, they're usually embarrassed. I continue waiting they have their book AND pencil out. Of course, the spotlight on them makes them extremely uncomfortable. I don't ream them, don't make any faces, comments, or do anything else - merely ask "Are you ready now?" Then I take up right where I left off. It's kind of fun, and I don't have to come off like my usual sarcastic self. It seems to work pretty well - late arrivals have really dropped off this semester.

But this guy (Scott Galloway at NYU) just throws them out if they come in late. A student got the treatment recently and sent him a (to my ears) somewhat entitled email. Galloway give him an epic reaming.

Read the responses - they're classic (particularly the David Mamet references). If you have any favorite techniques for dealing with late students, feel free to share.

Of course, as they say in the ads, "your mileage may vary".

HT: Craig Newmark (who gets it)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I'm Still Here

As several readers have noted, I haven't been posting much lately. Mostly, I've been working - trying to get ahead in my classes, working on research, and in general keeping a low profile. So, here's a brief update on things.

As usual, I've been juggling a couple of projects. One is (finally) just about done - it's been going on for a couple of years now, but the end is in sight. With luck (and, more important, some discipline), it should be done in the next couple of weeks. And then it'll get sent out to the Journal of Banking and Finance (not a top-tier journal, but pretty good). Then I work on another piece that will get sent to Financial Management (about at the same level).

Meanwhile, I'm also working on an accounting piece that will be sent to the Journal of Accounting, Auditing, and Finance. SO, with a bit of luck, I should shortly have three pieces under review at pretty decent journals.

Meanwhile, in the last two weeks, I've received three papers to review, so it;s time to start working on those. It's odd - nothing for a year, and then three in a week. Ah well.

While this is going on, I've been teaching (of course). Last semester, I had three "preps" (a "prep is a unique class you must prepare for - so three preps means three separate classes), of which one was a new one. This semester, I have only two preps, and neither one is a new one. So, I've actually been getting things done.

Finally, things have been good in the Unknown Household. Unknown Baby Boy is crawling, and starting to make words - so far, he does "Da Da" and a pretty good imitation of an explosion (what can I say - he's a Boy Child). The Unknown Daughter continues to impress everyone with her writing skills (she recently described her mom and friends as "overly garrulous"), and has been reading up a storm.

Enough for now - my data awaits.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Preparing for Obama's SOTU Address

I might tune into the SOTU (State Of The Union) address tonight. Unfortunately, I have to watch the Unknown Kids (unknown Wife has a girls night out). If I weren't, I might be willing to try one of the following SOTU drinking games:
But, since I have to watch the kids (and I want to have a liver once I'm 60), I guess I'll just have to content myself with SOTU Bingo.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

R.I.P. Mark Bertus (12/21/1971 - 1/26/2010)

A serious and sad note today - Mark Bertus (a finance prof at Auburn University) passed away early this morning at the age of 38 after a long battle with cancer. He leaves behind a wife and three children, and is now pain free and in the presense of Joy Himself

Those of you who knew him can read the story of his last couple of years as chronicled by his wife Rhonda at their blog.

I was fortunate to have known Mark these last few years. He was fun to hang around with at conferences, always quick with a laugh and a wisecrack (upon hearing that the Unknown Wife was pregnant, he immediately said "Congratulations - who's the father?"), and absolutely in love with his wife and kids. He was also an amazing teacher - just read a few of the comments at their blog, and you'll quickly get a sense as to how much his students loved him.

For those who knew him, here's some info from the blog:
The funeral will be held 10 a.m. this Friday morning at St. Michaels Catholic Church at North College St. in Auburn. Visitation hours will be at Jeffcoat Trant funeral Thursday night from 6-8pm.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Mark Bertus Scholarship Fund at any Auburn Bank location or mail to PO Drawer 3110 Auburn, AL 36831-3110.
Fare well, my friend, if only for a while. You'll be reunited with family and friends some day (and if there's beer in heaven, we'll share a few). When you run into him, say hi to the Unknown Son for me - he'll be the one with the Wimpy Kid books. He was never all that physical because of his illness, and he'll need someone to teach him how to throw a curve-ball, if you know what I'm saying.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Inconceivable!

I don't discuss it much on the blog, but those of you who know me know that I'm a bit of a political junkie. So, I've been watching the goings on in the Massachusetts Senate race the last few weeks. I grew up in a neighboring state, and was fed a regular serving of Kennedy media in my younger years.

So, to see a Republican senator elected to Ted Kennedy's old seat is nothing short of amazing. By all accounts, Brown did as masterful a job of campaigning as Coakley did a horrendous one.

It should make for interesting times the next few weeks as the Democrats decide what to do as far as the Health Care plan is concerned. This may be the death knell for it.

Time will tell.

Fun With Faculty Parking

I was watching the Unknown Baby Boy today while the Unknown Wife went to physical therapy (she recently threw her back out - luckily, it's gotten better). So, I got to my office later than expected. When I did, it was raining a bit, and the faculty lot behind my building was full.

Then I saw one car (a bright red Mustang convertible without a faculty sticker) that took up two spaces. That's right - it's raining, he/she didn't have a sticker, and had taken up two spaces in a lot that they didn't even belong in - thereby ensuring that at least two people who belonged there could use the lot. So, I wrote them this little note (suitably wrapped so it wouldn't get soaked):
Sorry about denting your car. I tried several times to park in the next space to your left, but it was very tight. I think I hit your rear bumper on the corner, and I might have scratched the paint a bit (but it was hard to tell, since it was raining a bit). Then i tried in the space to your right, and might have done the same. Unfortunately, with your car taking up two spaces, it didn't leave me much room. If you have any questions, please call me - the scratch didn't look too bad, and I have insurance, so I'd be happy to take care of it.
Then I left an illegible number.

It's not an original idea, but I hope the person involved has to spend a fair bit of time looking for the nonexistent damage.

In the rain.

Hey - I had to walk in it, so karma is that way.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Great Video of The Unknown Baby Boy (And Some FMA Stuff)

I'm grateful that the Unknown Baby Boy has a good disposition. He laughs easily and often, and is generally a happy kid most of the time.

Here's a short clip (luckily, he gets his looks from his mother). The quality is pretty poor because I took it with my cell phone, but it give you an idea. The other kid you hear is the Unknown Daughter. Enjoy.



On a work related note, looks like one paper's already been submitted to FMA (it helps having good coauthors who do most of the work). I'm still working on the second one, and hope to be done by early evening.

Of course, that means I'll probably still be in my office at 11 pm like I was last night - Groan!

Updated 8:00 p.m.: The second paper is done and submitted. Of course, at the very end, Acrobat refused to print it (there was something wrong with the version of Acrobat on my system). Luckily a colleague of mine also didn't have a life and was working late also, and it worked on his computer.

Murphy never rests. Never.

But luckily, neithr does my colleague.

Now it's time to feed the little bugger. and tomorrow night I go on a well-deserved date with the Unknown Wife.

Since coauthors on both papers are out of pocket for a while (one just had classes start up and the other is at -I kid you not- Disney), I guess then I'll just have to work on another project that needs a revision (I'm also "data monkey" on that one).

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Arghhhh!

The deadline for submissions to the FMA (Financial Management Association, our national association) national conference is this Friday. I'm trying to get two papers done - one in which I do the data analysis and hand it off to my coauthor for the writeup and another where the reverse happens (she analyzes and hands off to me). Last week I thought I was in good shape.

Uh oh - I spoke too soon.

First, this weekend when no one is around, my office computer gets cut off from the Internet by the University IT department - they said I had a virus. So, for the weekend I used my laptop for interned access (some citations and work on WRDS), and kept running analysis on my desktop - it has two screens and a lot more power.

Come Monday morning my college's IT guy (who is fantastic, BTW) said he'd look at it. So, I backed up all the relevant stuff for the two papers to a portable hard drive and started working on my notebook. I figure he'd scan the hard drives and give it back to me in a day or so.

Next thing you know, my IT guy tells me that my boot drive has gone Tango Uniform (I have two hard drives in the system - one is the boot drive and the other has all my data on it). Luckily I'd backed up everything from the data drive before giving the machine to him.

It's a 4 year old system, so, it looks like I'll be getting a new system with more memory and a bigger hard drive. But in the meantime, I'm working on a laptop with a 12 inch screen.

Ah well, I'm just about done with my part of the first paper, and I just got a load of stuff from my coauthor on the second one. So it'll be a busy week until Saturday.

One of these days I'll run across this Murphy guy, and we're gonna have some words.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Yale Students Are Sissies

British theologian and satirist Malcolm Muggeridge once remarked that it's difficult being a satirist. You work so hard to put someone into a ridiculous situation, and then they go ahead and do something far stranger and dumber than anything you could have come up with.

Yale undergrads provided the latest illustration of Muggeridge's point. Here's the article from the Yale Daily News (The Game refers to the annual Yale/Harvard football game, which is their biggest rivalry):
The Freshman Class Council has run into controversy with its T-shirts for The Game.

The FCC has decided to change the design of its shirts after the original design, which was submitted by students and voted on by the freshman class, sparked outcry from members within the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. But after the LGBT Cooperative and other students raised concerns about the design — which contained the word “sissies” — administrators asked the FCC to reconsider. FCC representatives decided Tuesday to scrap the old T-shirts, which had not yet been printed, and make a new design.

The original design, which won out over five other entries, displayed an F. Scott Fitzgerald quote in the front — “I think of all Harvard men as sissies” — in bold white letters. The back of the long-sleeved, navy blue T-shirt said “WE AGREE” in capital letters, with “The Game 2009” scrawled in script underneath it.

But the term ‘sissies’ is considered offensive and demeaning, and as well as a “thinly-veiled gay slur,” said Julio Perez-Torres ’12, a member of the LGBT Co-op.

After the winning design was announced, FCC President Brandon Levin ’13 said, several students raised concerns about the design to their respective FCC representatives, which they in turn brought to the attention of the FCC Executive Board and Dean of Freshman Affairs Raymond Ou.

Read the whole thing here.

The quote originates from an F. Scott Fitgerald piece:

“I want to go to Princeton,” said Amory. “I don’t know why, but I think of all Harvard men as sissies, like I used to be, and all Yale men as wearing big blue sweaters and smoking pipes.”

Monsignor chuckled.

“I’m one, you know.”

“Oh, you’re different — I think of Princeton as being lazy and good-looking and aristocratic — you know, like a spring day. Harvard seems sort of indoors — ”

“And Yale is November, crisp and energetic,” finished Monsignor.

“That’s it.”

They slipped briskly into an intimacy from which they never recovered.

— F. Scott Fitzgerald, Princeton X ‘17, This Side of Paradise

After all - we can't have taunting at a football game that might offend anyone, can we?

Two thoughts - first, what a bunch of sissies, and second, "Harvard men are sissies" is the best smack talk you can come up with for a football game? The Unknown Daughter is nine, and she could do better.

I remember back in the dark ages when I was an undergrad at UCONN. We played Brown every year in soccer (usually kicked their hineys - we were contenders for the national championship most years back then). Our traditional cheer was "What's the color of SH+T? Brown!" Now THAT's smack.

I think they call us sissies in return...

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Gotta Love That Global Warming

I just shoveled another 6 inches of global warming off my driveway.

I blame Al Gore.

On a more serious note, here's wishing you a Happy New Year to one and all. May the best that you saw in 2009 be the worst that you'll see in 2010.