Saturday, July 31, 2010

I might be the most boring person in the world

My big plan for today was to go get my broken mower and mow the yard. That didn't happen - mower still not done. So instead I do a couple loads of laundry. Watch a sorry movie. Take a nap. Pay some bills. Rocking out to late night Book TV on C-Span now!

Internet poker might soon be legal again

Internet poker and some other forms of online gambling was supposedly banned back (2006). "But I see ads for internet gambling on TV and online all the time?" you might say? I guess it's all run from offshore currently, and note that the ads will direct you to a dot net site that's a "play" site with fake money, but it'll have ways to link to the real sites where all the poker stars talk about playing.

Anyhow, it sounds like congress is looking at legislation to legalize internet gambling. It's not that they don't want to control your life (or more cynically protect campaign contributors like land-based casinos, or other forms of already legalized gambling - can you say the "lotto") - they're just out of money this time and need more revenues. In a way govt. debt has been good for cultural libertarians out there.

(Heck, even in some small towns I'm familiar with where nobody previously drank alcohol you can now go to an "upscale" O'Charlies because they've been willing to do the unthinkable - legalize liquor by the drink licensing - a needed profit center to attract new restaurants (and a new tax base for struggling city budgets).

Now with all this said, I know alot of folks struggle with gambling and other addictions so along with this I have to support programs to help people who can't control a gambling addiction. In my mind the two have to walk hand in hand - there has to be a recognition of the negative social costs of gambling, and some of the revenue _should_ be used to offset the negative effects it brings to society.

Anyhow, my post for the day.... it's not meant to be inflamatory, but I do find it interesting that societies have tendencies to want to control people's activities until it gets to the point of a) do I stand by my principles and support increased taxes, or b) do I just legalize it and tax the crud out of it? Often option (b) is the way we go. Option (b) comes with baggage often, and it's that compromise that makes govt. kindof icky - option b is usually not a nice clean solution - it has both positives and very visible negatives. But option C (not spending so much in the first place) hasn't proven very achievable either.

The really tough calls to me are the ones where the net negatives are equal to and/or outweigh the net positives. The derivative markets might be an example ;-) or certain activities classified as "predatory lending," certain life destroying drugs, or if your neighbor wants to put in a chicken coup. Tough calls are on the fringes - and there are those that would argue they have the right to do those things even if it makes society as a whole worse-off anyway. But we're off on an interesting tangent now.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Made good batch of home-made Chinese food

I made a pretty good batch of home-made Chinese food today. Whenever I make Chinese it always comes out a bit different so I never know exactly what the best way to make it, but today's batch was pretty good.

Get 1 cup of rice going.

For the rest:
3 or 4 chicken breast fillets, sliced thin into small pieces. Cook on medium with a bit of sesame oil and oyster sauce initially (not too much of either flavors), and then as it get's going better I add soy sauce a few more times. That was more chicken than I was used to fixing but they were all in the same freezer bag - so it took longer to cook than usual at this point, but it eventually all turned white. I added soy sauce a few times as I stirred it.

-small can of mushrooms, and
-small can of bamboo shoots, and
-big can of pineapple chunks. I put some of the pineapple juice in with the cooking chicken but remember drinking a bunch of the leftover pineapple juice too.
Added soy sauce a couple more times as it all cooked (I like the bamboo shoots to soak up the soy sauce), and added
- corn starch to thicken the liquids and turned back the heat

as all the excitement in the other pan is winding down in separate fry pan pour out some
- Asian frozen mixed vegetables from Kroger - mostly some type of long green bean, broccoli, onions, and mushroom (no carrots),
- another partial leftover bag of frozen broccoli, and
- a partial bag of frozen green beans.
On medium heat just got that going enough to heat it up but leaving the vegetables crunchy. Mixed in some soy sauce as it was cooking. Turned the heat back on that so vegetables were cooked but still crunchy.

Pretty much done at this point. Put down the rice on a plate, put on the cooked chicken w/ bamboo and pineapple, then on top put the vegetables. Had a real nice flavor. Probably just lucked out with the mix of soy sauce this time, but it was real good.

Plus, you can save it and it'll reheat very well in microwave for several more meals (or it's good straight out of the fridge if you like it cold).

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Here's an interesting and critical article by the Washington Post on how large and unwieldy our security apparatus has grown.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Yet another reason to avoid big name stock recs

I know we've talked about this before, but just a reality check in case that memory has faded. This time it's Goldman-Sachs.

From this NYT article
"Goldman Sachs can’t seem to stay out of the news, and I keep thinking about the amazing first quarter they had. In case you missed it Goldman made money on its own trades every single day in the first quarter. Meanwhile in the real world, people who followed Goldman’s recommended top trades for 2010 lost money on seven of the nine recommended trades."

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Lyric of the Day

I was downloading some tunes from emusic today and downloaded an Indigo Girls Live album that impressed me (alot of live albums aren't that good but I like this one). The lyric of the day comes from there. I love this turn of phrase:

"I got bitten by the bitter bug and now I just can't get enough
of ill will and my own conceits, and I'm weary of the world it seems"
- Second Time Around, The Indigo Girls

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

3 cool science stories from today

It turns out today was chock-full of interesting science stories. I thought all of these were really good.

1. Emergent Gravity - good story about "emergent gravity" and a paper that's bringing the discussion that gravity may not be fundamental but is instead just an emergent property of a complex system. I've seen several stories about this recently but this provides a good background for the clue-less like myself.

2. The Bacteria in us all. I am always hesitant to take medicines, especially antibiotics, because I've tended to view my "system" as myself and a whole bunch of beneficial microbes living in me in sortof a symbiosis - and antibiotics for me seem kindof like bombs that kill everything in your system good or bad. Here's a story that talks about how little doctors or science knows about the biospheres inside of us, and how promoting the correct type of bacteria in us may be what's needed in the first place.

3. Interesting finding about preventing brain damage during stroke. I found this a highly non-intuitive finding - brain damage in a stroke can be minimized/prevented by stimulating the brain area impacted - at least in a rat. Flicking a whisker makes all the difference, but there are obvious things to try in people.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Asteroid Lutetia images

Check out the images from the European Space Agency's Rosetta craft website - including a movie of the flyby. Lutetia is thought to be about 75 mi. wide at it's widest point. Very cool.

More on computers and lack of impact on educational outcomes

More info that computers in low income households don't help close educational performance gaps - it may actually help create greater gaps by creating more distractions from study and schoolwork. (Kindof like the youtube video below is more fun to seek out than studying.) Here's the story.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

You think I'd fit in one of these?

The hamsters are kinda phat. I love this commercial for Kia Soul. Doo - Dah - Dippety!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Einstein paper

Have you ever wanted to read how Einstein presented the concept of E equals M C squared?

It's only a 3 page paper, and the line of thought seems inspired by what is going on with what we now call radiation and what is happening when an object gives off energy as radiation.

we are led to the more general conclusion that the mass of a body is a measure of its energy-content;

In the paper he lays out a test of this hypothesis - by measuring the mass of radium salts over time.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


I thought this was interesting about Mozart and conspiracy theories surrounding his death. (the entire Skeptoid Blog is filled with interesting reads on all sorts of topics).

...and while we're at it, his original name was apparently Wolfgang Theophilus Mozart. The name "Amadeus" is apparently adopted posthumously by writers and is the Latin versions of Theophilus. There's more on Mozart's names on Wikipedia.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

2 new dividend stocks

I didn't do much research on these, but I picked up a couple of dividend oriented stocks today: PEP Pepsico and KMB Kimberly-Clark. Again, not much research on either other than they seem to pass some screens and showed up in several articles trying to identify dependable dividend picks at reasonable prices. I simply did a quick look through a few of the companies and selected these.

The main goal here was to attempt to diversify my portfolio a bit away from the growth type stocks that dominate my portfolios, as well as make a little money at the same time via dividend since money markets are so lousy right now. Both companies have strong consumer brands, and Pepsico while a bit pricier still seems to have pretty good growth prospects.

I also had an order in for Comcast but that one didn't get filled.