" /> Coruscation: July 2006 Archives

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July 31, 2006

How to argue, part 1

How to argue without facts or logic:

The Casey campaign has portrayed Mr. Santorum as far
too close to the K Street lobbying community and far
too devoted to a national conservative agenda.

Too close: how is this measured ?
K street: what is this, why is it 'bad' ?

"At some point, he began to spend a lot more time on
Washington politics and Republican Party politics and
ideology than on Pennsylvania's priorities," Mr. Casey
said. "In a nutshell, he's gone Washington."

Washington politics. How are these irrelevant ?
National issues. How are these issues not material ?
Ideology. Why is his ideology bad ?

[ Robert P. 'Bob' Casey Jr vs Rick Santorum ]

July 30, 2006

wordspy jargon

Word Spy explicates jargon, lingo, vocabulary lexpionage.
Example: Drink the Kool Aid.

July 29, 2006

Long Island Multiple Listing Service

MLSLI, the MLS of Long Island.
House shopping in suburban Long Island.

July 28, 2006

Hefeweizen gets its due

In its purest form, beer is made solely of malted barley,
water, yeast and hops. Among grains, barley’s association
with brewing comes naturally. Its characteristic hard husk
makes it easier for brewers to employ without clogging up
their equipment, as happens with a grain like wheat, which
has no husk and can gum up the works.

Barley’s high starch content breaks down easily into sugars,
which are then converted by yeast into alcohol. Wheat, by
contrast, with its elastic glutens, is well suited to making
bread; unlike barley, which becomes dry and crumbly in
the hands of a baker. Perfect division of labor, right?

Barley for beer, wheat for bread.
Hefeweizen for hot weather.

[hefeweizen at NYT]

July 27, 2006

Ben Stein

Invest in foreign emerging market ETFs.

Debt to foreigners and medicare costs will crush baby boomer
Americans during their retirement age.

-- Ben Stein.

And his criticts: BusMovie, on options backdating.

DFEMX: DFA Emerging Markets ( NAS:DFEMX )
EFA: iShares MSCI EAFE Index Fund (ETF) (Public, AMEX:EFA)
EEM: iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Indx (ETF) (Public, AMEX:EEM)

In effect, panicky short sellers have offered us a bargain on
emerging-market stocks, letting us have some very good
companies for 25 percent off what they were two months ago.
I say go for it. The ride will be choppy, but that's where the future is.
Look into EEM and DFEMX (although there'll be a high minimum for
that last one unless you buy it through an advisor).

Of course, this should be a minority of your holdings -- maybe 10
percent or 15 percent at most. I would put at least another 10 to 15
percent into developed world foreign funds like the EFA. But this
offers a real possibility to play the falling dollar and the growth
in emerging markets, and to offset our totally irresponsible
government policies.

July 26, 2006

Stein Report on immigration law

Stein Report covers immigration law, visa rules and
enforcement in Drudge Report style.
See also house immigration caucus.

When unskilled immigration is high, the effect is to create a disenfranchised
class of low-wage workers, which makes it easier for the Republican party to
shift right. And there's a strong correlation between the foreign-born share
of the population and political polarization, visible in the charts at VoteView.

This political effect of immigration, much more than the effect on wages,
is the reason I'm less enthusiastic about immigration than many liberals;
I fear that immigration undermines the political foundations for a decent
social safety net.
-- Paul Krugman, 2006 June 12

July 25, 2006

Treo 700p reviews

Palm Treo 700p reviewed.

At PC Mag:
The 700p's keys are squarer, making them a hair more
susceptible to mistyping. The Palm OS is getting old;
most notably, it doesn't support multitasking, which
is annoying when you're downloading e-mail and
want to do something else. But it's still tremendously
responsive and requires relatively few keypresses or
stylus taps to do what you want.

The Treo syncs easily with both Macs (with iSync or
Palm Desktop) and PCs (with Palm Desktop or Microsoft
Outlook), Mac users don't get the ultimate prize—the
ability to use the Treo as a USB modem on Sprint's EV-DO
network. With it hooked up to a PC using Sprint's Connection
Manager, I got excellent speeds of 900 to 1,100 Kbps.
That's awesome. But when I connected to a Mac using
Bluetooth, speeds slowed down to about 200 to 300 Kbps.

The problem is the Treo's Bluetooth 1.2 stack, which is just
too slow to handle the full speed of EV-DO. You won't get
that full speed in Palm's Blazer browser, either. Blazer's
not-so-fast rendering engine kept effective speeds on
bandwidth-test Web sites down to about 200 Kbps. But
the device as a whole feels very responsive, and it's fast
enough to play music or stream video.

Compare to RIM BlackBerry 8700g.

Infosync World:
Our fingertips were happy with the new keypad, although
we found reaching down for the Menu key to be annoyingly

Palm Infocenter:
The Sprint-branded 700p in New York City, our surfing on the
revamped Blazer browser (which comes with improved caching
and Javascript support, among other changes) was impressively
fast, as were file downloads and over-the-air PIM synching.

The Treo 700p offers good syncing capability with your Mac,
either with the Palm Desktop software that comes on a CD-ROM
with the device or Apple’s built-in Address Book and iCal.

Video review and forum user feedback.

Close up pictures of keyboard. Palm continues to ship
their devices with the Blazer web browser and VersaMail
email client, despite the fact that these two programs
account for an unnaturally large percentage of all complaints
about the Treo family of devices. However, it's not all bad.
Palm has, at the very least, done a bit of work to soup up
Blazer. While it's still hugely lacking in terms of page
rendering and visual style, it has gotten a significant
speed boost.

700p is considerably more stable than the Treo 650 was
at launch. Palm has been doing a lot lately to correct the
compatibility problems first introduced in the T5/Treo
650 generation.

Market growth and loyal customer support for the Palm operating
system as reasons to continue to support the Palm operating
system. In fact, according to a 2005 Canalys report, Palm's
year-over-year smartphone growth from 2004 to 2005 was
111%. Their market share in 2004 was 26% and in 2005 grey
to 33% or one-third of the smartphone market. The overall
smartphone growth was 65%, however RIM, a Palm competitor
saw its market share dip from 57% to 53%.

July 24, 2006

Foreign ETFs of Bill Gross

Survey Bill Gross' foreign ETFs.

iShares MSCI EAFE Index Fund EFA:
One of the largest ETFs in volume and outstanding capitalization.
You’re buying the EAFE [Europe, Australia, Far East].

July 23, 2006

Varying observation window portfolio stress test

Portfolio stress test by varying the observation window, at Seeking Alpha.

The difference in projected portfolio performance as a reflection
of the changing dynamics of foreign markets. As globalization
increases, some other economies are more coupled to the U.S.
economy and—perhaps more important—are perceived as
being more coupled to the U.S. economy. Further, as more
domestic investors put an increasingly heavy allocation into
foreign stocks, we will naturally see more coupling in returns
and there will be a decreased level of diversification effects
available from investing in many foreign economies.

July 22, 2006

Random Rodger / Rodger Nusbaum

Random Rodger Nusbaum investment strategy.

Example: Get some exposure to foreign ETFs.

July 21, 2006

Jane and her poodles

Mickey and Mallory ?
Jane Hamsher of Fire Dog Lake in New Haven, feeling the Joementum.

[ Via New Haven Independent ]

July 20, 2006

ETF: Exchange-Traded Funds

ETF Trends and ETF centre at Seeking Alpha track Exchange-Traded Funds.

July 19, 2006

Engadget's Mobile: Treo BlackBerry Motorola Nokia

Engadget's mobile covers Palm Treo, BlackBerry,
Sprint PCS Power Vision and EV-DO.

July 18, 2006

Bobo's two types: purity vs pragma

Not a fight between left and right, a fight about
how politics should be conducted. On the one
hand are the ...

Update: for the 'How to argue...' file
How to introduce evidence you don't have:
So these days, for example, one hears that Lieberman is a

true believersquasi-independents
fundamentalistsheterodox politicians
party disciplinedistrust ideological purity
passionrebel against movement groupthink
orthodoxyJohn McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Hillary Clinton
clear choicesJoe Lieberman

[Bobo see also: The Prospect. ]

July 17, 2006

Internet Outsider, Insider / Henry Blodget

Update 2008 October: Henry's Clusterstock is now a must read.

Update 2008 August: Now at (Silicon) Alley Insider.

Henry's up down in an online post portal business climate milieu of eBay GOOG YaHoo! Vonage.

Example: Can Google make subscription revenue ?

The over-maligned, persuasive Henry Blodget, now at Cherry
Hill Research.

Update 2007 August: Also posting at HuffPo.

July 16, 2006

Two-Factor Mortgage Valuation Model: How Much Do House Prices Matter?

An Empirical Test of a Two-Factor Mortgage Valuation Model:
How Much Do House Prices Matter?

Mortgage-backed securities, with their relative structural simplicity
and their lack of recovery rate uncertainty if default occurs, are
particularly suitable for developing and testing risky debt valuation
models. A two-factor structural mortgage pricing model in which
rational mortgage-holders endogenously choose when to prepay
and default subject to
i. explicit frictions (transaction costs) payable when terminating
their mortgages,
ii. exogenous background terminations, and
iii. a credit related impact of the loan-to-value ratio (LTV) on

We estimate the model using pool-level mortgage termination data
for Freddie Mac Participation Certificates, and find that the effect of
the house price factor on the results is both statistically and
economically significant. Out-of-sample estimates of MBS prices
produce option adjusted spreads of between 5 and 25 basis
points, well within quoted values for these securities.

Chris Downing, Richard Stanton, and Nancy E. Wallace,
An Empirical Test of a Two-Factor Mortgage Valuation Model:
How Much Do House Prices Matter
(link to 406 K, PDF file)

Chris Downing, Federal Reserve Board, Washington, DC
Richard Stanton, Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley
Nancy E. Wallace, Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley

[ Research Program in Finance Working Papers.
Paper RPF-296, 2003 April 01.
UC Berkeley

Not yet: Browse by or search for work's name Hamlet, character
name Ophelia or search for content text nunnery.

July 13, 2006

Bulgogi Korean BBQ beef in Flushing, Queens

Korean bbq place in Flushing, Queens. Recommended.

San Hai Jin Mi
36-24 Union Street,
Flushing, Queens, NY 11354
(on Union just south of Northern Blvd. )
ph 718-539-3274

Great bulgogi and they’re open 24 hours as well though they
are not set up for tourists like the ones on K-town 32nd Street.

[ Via Gothamist and Outer borough Cabbie]

July 12, 2006

Mortgage Valuation and Optimal Refinancing, Pliska

An equilibrium valuation of fixed-rate mortgage contracts in
discrete time -- the mortgagor’s prepayment behavior
described by intensity process and with exogenous mortgage
rates, the value of the contract is derived in an explicit form
that can be interpreted as the principal balance plus the
value of a certain swap.

A nonlinear equation for what the mortgage rate in a
competitive market, and thus mortgage rates are endogenous
and depend upon the mortgagor’s prepayment behavior.

The complementary problem, where mortgage rates are
exogenous and the mortgagor seeks the optimal refinancing
strategy, is then solved via a Markov decision chain.

Finally, the equilibrium problem, where the mortgagor
is a representative agent in the economy who seeks the
optimal refinancing strategy and where the mortgage
rates are endogenous, is developed, solved, and analysed.

Mortgage Valuation and Optimal Refinancing, Stanley R. Pliska:
shorter and longer versions.

Existence and uniqueness results, as well as a numerical
example, are provided.

July 11, 2006

Macroeconomic gods

The heretic J. Bradford DeLong must confess his sins to St Maynard.
You know perfectly well that you have been fascninated by the
Heyekian model since you were an undergraduate. Your effort
to accuse Paul Krugman of the Hayekian/Arian Heresy based
on the claim that not all capital is Homoosian is pure projection.

Arian refers to Arius a theologian who disagreed with the
Nicean crede and not to any alleged race. Homoosian means
"of the same substance," the Nicean crede holds that God the
son and God the father(and the holy spirit) are homoosian.
However, I now realise that the Solovian doctrine that capital
is schmoo is fundamentally Nicean and that the Hayekian
Heresy is similar to the Arian Heresy.

I am shocked that even Paul Krugman has feet of clay
(I thought he had feet of putty).

-- RJ Waldmann, 2005 May 27.

July 10, 2006

Haver data

Haver Analystics provides economic data, ready to use
in Stata and eViews formats.

PCE time series inflationary ?

July 9, 2006

Inconvienient for free

See Al Gore's movie for free.

Update 2006 July: Now the 12th bigge$t movie of the week,
and the 4th bigge$t documentary of all time.

July 8, 2006

ia flickr, ia discuss

Information architecture artifacts: ia flickr: ia discuss.

Bonus: Flickr's newr interface.

July 7, 2006

Sparklines time series

Show the time series with a sparkline.
Sparklines wiki.
Go mad with stock charts.

US Federal Budget deficit, 1983-2003.

July 6, 2006


More Treo love: Treo Tricks and BB Hub.

July 5, 2006

Kalotay's option theory

Andrew Kalotay research on mortgage theory.
Valuation and optimal exercise of options, calling and refunding.

Previously: Option-Theoretic Prepayment Model for Mortgages by
Fabozzi , Kalotay and Yang.

July 4, 2006

Mexoryl, sunscreen

Mexoryl sun screen season is here.
Protect yourself from UVA, UVB.

The protection factor is only part of the story. A product with
an S.P.F. of 30 may have a UVA protection rating of only 2. Your
sunscreen should be a broad-spectrum one that also blocks
UVA radiation. Two ingredients now used in "complete" sunscreens
in cosmetically acceptable micronized forms are titanium dioxide
and zinc oxide.

Two other agents that offer broad-spectrum protection, Mexoryl
and Tinosorb, help to stabilize UVA protection during prolonged
exposures. They are available in Canada and Europe but have not
yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration here.

Neutrogena, however, has a new product on the American market,
Ultra Sheer, with an S.P.F. of 55, that is said to do the job of Mexoryl.
It is also more affordable and is cosmetically comfortable. The
company uses a patented Helioplex technology to stabilize two
UV blockers, avobenzone and oxybenzone.

-- NYT.

July 3, 2006

Interns. Underpaid ?

Are interns underpaid and exploted ?
Yes: Anya Kamenetz, Cokie Roberts (NYT)

It's something that really makes me nuts. By setting up unpaid
internship programs, it seems to me that without completely
recognizing it, it sets up a system where you are making it ever
more difficult for people who don't have economic advantages
to catch up.

-- Cokie Roberts, an ABC News correspondent at a gathering
of Congressional interns.

No: Will Wilkinson, VoxBaby, TheStalwart, Daniel Gross.

Maybe: The Prospect.

July 2, 2006

Andy Kessler

Andy Kessler telcom investing.
Skype (SkypeOut), Vonage E.g.s, Philly WiFi battles Verizon
and Silicon Valley history.

Also in the NYT.

July 1, 2006

Dominion Day


I believe in Canada.

I love her as my home. I honour her institutions. I rejoice
in the abundance of her resources.

I glory in the record of her achievements. I have unbounded
confidence in the ability of her people to excel in whatsoever
they undertake. I cherish exalted ideals of her destiny as a
leader among world nations.

To her I pledge my loyalty. To the promotion of her best interests
I pledge my support. To her products I pledge my patronage.
And to the cause of her producers I pledge my devotion.