" /> Coruscation: July 2009 Archives

« June 2009 | Main | August 2009 »

July 25, 2009

Obama on red pills, blue pills

Just begging for a correction:

The pharmacists like to slice and dice our country into red pills and blue pills: red pills for Republicans, blue pills for Democrats. But I've got news for them, too. We get an awesome high on the blue pill, and we don't like federal agents poking around our stash of red pills.

We deal to the little league some blue pills, and, yes, we've got some gay friends hopped up on red pills.

July 24, 2009

Rob DouganĀ“s "Clubbed to Death"

The Kurayamino variation of this Clubbed to Death is significantly better known than the first one due to its appearance in the film The Matrix. Therefore, this version is now known simply as Clubbed to Death, and the first one as the First Mix.

as heard on Le Parcours

July 19, 2009

Amazon book price inflation

After placing some books in the cart, but not checking out, I return an am warned that these desired but unpurchased item are now much more expensive.


See also

Amazon Prime $79 Refund class action suit

New is cheaper than used: Falkenstein's Finding Alpha and Ritholtz (Big Picture) Bailout Nation new vs used price arbitrage.

July 16, 2009

Pitch 2009

2009 update from the allstar game in Saint Louis.


Previously (2004):

John Kerry, man's man


GWB, throws like a girl

Kerry wins again.

July 15, 2009

Mddle class earning up to $280,000 ( $350,000 couples)

The middle class escape new healthcare taxes on individuals earning $280,000 and up and couples earning more than $350,000.

-- Representative Charles B. Rangel of New York, Chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.

But emerging from daylong committee negotiations Friday, Mr. Rangel said the income surtax would take effect in 2011 and begin at 1 percent of adjusted gross income -- earnings before deductions like those for mortgage interest and charitable contributions -- and would apply to individuals earning more than $280,000 and couples earning more than $350,000.

The surtax would be increased for individuals earning more than $400,000 and couples earning more than $500,000, and step up again for individuals earning over $800,000 and couples earning above $1 million. The precise extent of these increases has not been announced.

Mr. Rangel's committee is also planning to insert language that would raise the surtax in 2013 if expected cost savings in the health care system do not materialize.

Health / Health Care Policy
Leaders in House Seek to Tax Rich for Health Plan
Published: July 11, 2009
The proposal, a clear expression of Democrats' perceived mandate, calls for a surtax on individuals earning at least $280,000, but it faces hurdles in both chambers of Congress.

July 14, 2009

Prosper is back

Credit rating mapped to loss rate by score band using a credit model.


Prosper comes back to life, with SEC filing.

July 13, 2009

Foreclosures, Meth lab bargains

Federal data on meth lab seizures suggest that there are tens of thousands of contaminated residences in the United States. The victims include low-income elderly people whose homes are surreptitiously used by relatives or in-laws to make meth, and landlords whose tenants leave them with a toxic mess.

Some states have tried to fix the problem by requiring cleanup and, at the time of sale, disclosure of the house's history. But the high cost of cleaning -- $5,000 to $100,000, depending on the size of the home, the stringency of the requirements and the degree of contamination -- has left hundreds of properties vacant and quarantined, particularly in Western and Southern states afflicted with meth use.

"The meth lab home problem is only going to grow," said Dawn Turner, who started a Web site, www.methlabhomes.com, after her son lost thousands of dollars when he bought a foreclosed home in Sweetwater, Tenn., that turned out to be contaminated. Because less is known about the history of foreclosed houses, Ms. Turner said, "as foreclosures rise, so will the number of new meth lab home owners."

The former owner had marked "no" on a disclosure form asking whether the house had ever been a meth lab, Ms. Rodriguez said. But because he is now in prison for meth possession, among other things, the Rodriguezes decided there was nothing to gain by suing him. They moved out, throwing away most of their possessions because they could not be cleaned, and are letting the house go into foreclosure.

"It makes you crazy," Ms. Rodriguez said. "Our credit is ruined, we won't be able to buy another house, somebody exposed my kids to meth, and my dog died."

Federal statistics show that the number of clandestine meth labs discovered in the United States rose by 14 percent last year, to 6,783, and has continued to increase, in part because of a crackdown on meth manufacturers in Mexico and in part because of the spread of a new, easier meth-making method known as "shake and bake."

Illnesses Afflict Homes With a Criminal Past
Published: July 14, 2009
With meth lab seizures on the rise, attention is being focused on contamination that can cause a variety of health problems.

July 11, 2009

Housing Prices, Income, by City, animated

1987 February to 2009 June, median income and MSA housing price index.
Housing prices grew faster than the income needed to support them.


There is one income but 20 cities. Could show some housing/income ratio for each city. Income varies by city.
Histograms should show high water mark, at least after peaking.
Good jazz.

July 10, 2009

Street Fighters (Kate Kelly)

Street Fighters tells an engaging tale focused upon how a mighty firm was reduced to rubble in three days. You know the ending before you start reading, but it is no less engaging. The author has a nice sense of the characters and has done extensive research into backgrounds. We not only learn about the major players, we learn what everyone else thought about them.

Street Fighters aims to tell the story in 72 hours, not examine structural problems in finance, and succeeds.

In "Street Fighters: The Last 72 Hours of Bear Stearns, the Toughest Firm on Wall Street," Kelly has elected to undertake an hour-by-hour reconstruction of the three days in March of 2008 when Bear Stearns first realized it was collapsing, fought to save itself and, ultimately, agreed to a humiliating sale to JPMorgan. It overstates nothing to call Kelly's book brilliantly reported, and her narrative is grippingly propulsive and peopled with fascinatingly drawn characters. Notable among them are Bear's Hamlet-like CEO, Alan Schwartz, who wept in line at the nearby Starbucks on the morning he had to announce the sale, and Jimmy Cayne, the erratic and wildly eccentric cigar-smoking chairman, whose real passions appear to have been bridge and golf. There are terrific walk-on appearances by Warren Buffett; Bear's legendary ex-chairman, Ace Greenberg; Lloyd Blankfein (the Goldman Sachs honcho); and Chris Flowers, the engaging private equity investor who made a spirited run at Bear.

Kelly's meticulous reporting amply demonstrates that the locus of Bear Stearns' fundamental problems derived from the unique interplay of its distinctive internal culture with the deeply flawed and, often, unfortunately idiosyncratic men who ran the place in those last years. The result seemed to be an institution that -- at all levels -- was quick to display bare knuckles to the outside world, while behind its own closed doors a lot of sharp elbows were swinging. Perhaps the most telling of the interlocking portraits Kelly sketches so well is that of Bear's upper echelons, where executives were fiercely territorial and oddly inattentive to even critical operational questions. Bear Stearns was, in the end, an institution where denial was the executive suites' emotion of first resort.

-- Timothy Rutten, LA Times

See also RGE review.

July 9, 2009

Urging mortgage refinance -- Obama ?

Mortgage refinance is available.


Is mortgage refinance it really urged by Barack Obama ? Sorry we cannot better filter or screen the Google Adwords.

Update: Loan modification is a big topic now, but is President Obama really blogging about it ?


We think these sites are running some google adwords arbitrage strategy.

In a later press Q&A, Eric Schmidt talked significantly tougher when it came to assessing advertiser quality, with specific reference to ads taking users to misleading landing pages full of ad links--commonly known as click arbitrage. In that session, he sounded annoyed at the prospect of users landing on such "arbitrary agglomerations of ad links," and asserted that "we don't believe it is healthy.

-- Danny Sulivan

July 8, 2009

Hawthorne Effect overstated ?

The "Hawthorne Effect" is named after Western Electric's titanic Hawthorne Works in Cicero near Chicago, where a series of productivity trials was carried out between 1924 and 1932. Led by Elton Mayo, a professor at Harvard Business School, they are among the most famous experiments in social science. Not every social scientist is impressed.

Turn up the lights, and the workers work harder. Turn them down again, and they work harder still. The "Hawthorne Effect" is named after Western Electric's titanic Hawthorne Works in Cicero near Chicago, where a series of productivity trials was carried out between 1924 and 1932. Led by Elton Mayo, a professor at Harvard Business School, they are among the most famous experiments in social science. Not every social scientist is impressed.

Richard Nisbett, a social psychologist at the University of Michigan, complained to The New York Times a decade ago about the study's fame, calling it a "glorified anecdote". He had a point. Among managers, the study is generally held to demonstrate that people respond to change: whatever you do, output rises for a while, as long as you do something. Inside academia, "the Hawthorne Effect" refers to the idea that people work hard once you start experimenting on them. Both beliefs are surprising enough to be interesting, while nicely confirming the prejudices of those who hold them.
(1 )

Now two Chicago-based economists, Steven Levitt (best known as the co-author of Freakonomics) and John List, have unearthed the original data in libraries in Boston and Milwaukee, following clues buried in an appendix to an old article in the American Sociological Review.

Levitt and List are fond of experimental studies, but think the effect of being scrutinised sometimes contaminates such experiments. "We believe that there is a Hawthorne Effect," says List, referring to the idea that people behave differently when studied, "but there is little evidence of it in the actual Hawthorne data." As for the idea that turning the lights up and down makes a big difference, Levitt and List conclude that "existing descriptions of supposedly remarkable data patterns prove to be entirely fictional."

It is not the only time that an experiment's reputation has far outrun what was actually discovered. In 1967, the psychologist Stanley Milgram asked 160 people in Nebraska to get a letter to a stockbroker in Boston, passing it only to someone with whom they were on first-name terms. The popular account says that the letters arrived after six steps - and that we are all just six handshakes away from anyone on the planet. The reality, as the psychologist Judith Kleinfeld found, was that more than 80 per cent never arrived. Follow-up experiments concur. A recent BBC documentary "recreated" Milgram's experiment, with a Boston-based scientist receiving parcels from all over the world via only six connections. But 37 of the 40 parcels never arrived. (2)

July 7, 2009

Between $250,000 and $500,000 is middle income, mortgage-wise

David Adamo, the chief executive of Luxury Mortgage in Stamford, Conn. likened the current mortgage market to a barbell, with pockets of availability for borrowers at both ends of the income spectrum but less for those in between. Those with annual incomes up to about $250,000 have access to mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration, while the very affluent can obtain loans from private banking institutions.

For middle class borrowers with household incomes between $250,000 and $500,000, however, mortgages are not as easy to get, Mr. Adamo said. "These people are living in places where starter homes might be $1 million," he said, "and it's really affecting them."

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will accept only loans below $729,500 in the highest-cost markets like New York City and northern New Jersey. For mortgages larger than that, mortgage brokers and bankers must find other investors who want to take the loans. (Mortgage brokers process the applications on a lender's behalf, while mortgage bankers will finance the loan and sell it shortly thereafter.)

Securing a Jumbo: No Small Task
Published: July 5, 2009
The nonconforming "jumbo" mortgage, which exceeds the conventional "conforming" loan limit of $729,750 set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, is becoming more difficult to obtain.

July 6, 2009

Sales tax clampdown on internet merchant

The shots heard 'round the web: Amazon.com has closed its internet associate programs in Hawaii, North Carolina and Rhode Island after the states enacted laws requiring out-of-state internet vendors to collect sales taxes.

-- By Jeff Segal, Considered view, 01 Jul 2009

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Eileen Bransten dismissed the Internet giant's claim that the law, enacted in April 2008, violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution and the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of both the state and federal constitutions.

Justice Bransten held that the statute contains the requisite requirement that an online retailer must do a substantial amount of business in New York before companies can be forced to collect and remit state sales tax.

"It requires a substantial nexus between an out-of-state seller and New York through a contract to pay commissions for referrals with a New York resident along with realization of more than $10,000 of revenue from New York sales earned through the arrangement," Bransten wrote in Amazon.com v. New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, 601247/08. "The neutral statute simply obligates out-of-state sellers to shoulder their fair share of the tax-collection burden when using New Yorkers to earn profit from other New Yorkers."

July 5, 2009

Wordnik superdictionary

Wordnik promises to be a super dictionary, with web search driven updates of how words are used (But what does it mean to say the tool is used once per month ?) .

Better filtering tha UrbanDictionary, better page layout than most web dictionaries.

Update 2009 July 19: now with more context


July 4, 2009

Goths in hot weather


Gothasol(tm) helps avoid Fate of Freckles as you Dip your toes in the Paddling Pool of Despair.

July 3, 2009

html playground

htmlplayground is an interactive demonstration of Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML), the basic technology of web pages.

July 2, 2009

Facebook using Bing

Bing makes inroads in the search market.

July 1, 2009

Is it Canada Day yet ?

Is it Canada Day yet ?

Dominion Day alert from IICDY, via Twitter.