Monday, March 31, 2008

The Other Democrat

One of the things I like the most about Cornell is the people it attracts. Earlier today I was looking at the list of events to see that former senator Mike Gravel was giving a talk about five minutes later.

Mike Gravel is the person who an online quiz on presidential candidates last fall said I would agree with more than any other candidate. He also shares the distinction of being one of only 3 democrats still actively campaigning for the presidency. Sure he is not fooling anyone into thinking he will win, but he is still a big name figure.

So, I immediately got up and headed over to the talk. To be honest I wasn't that impressed. He seemed to be pushing really hard for a direct democracy system like that in California where the voters can vote on making laws directly. In California I vote against all of these out of principal. They are rarely well thought out or implemented. He didn't talk at all about some of the issues that I would agree with him the most, most notably ending the war on drugs.

To be honest, I probably would have gone home pretty happy with the man though if he didn't show off his support of getting rid of all Nuclear power plants.
One Hundred Nuclear Power plants in America, no deaths resulted in decades from them, and he still thinks of them as a menace! His replacement plan: replace them with wind and solar. OK, at least he didn't mention biofuels. I would agree those two sources need to be used more. However they initially should be used to keep new fossil fuel power plants from being built. Then they should be used to replace coal power plants. Then they should be used to replace Natural Gas power plants. Then they should be used through some sort of plug in hybrid system to replace most motor fuel. Then, and only then, should serious thought go into replacing the nuclear power plants. Until then we should be expanding Nuclear, and replacing Coal, the power plant with by far the worst safety and environmental record, as fast as we can.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Silly Careers...

I was just looking at the "Most Overrated Careers" on US News. Sure enough, medical scientist is on the list.

At least Engineer did quite well.

This reminds me. I need to keep taking hard core Optics, Business, and Electronics courses.

If I wasn't poor...

If I wasn't poor, I would say that right now would be a great time to buy stocks. Probably I would do so in the form of index funds, and put some percentage overseas just in case I am way off here. I didn't realize just how poorly the stock market had really done though:

"Conventional stock-market wisdom holds that if investors buy a broad range of stocks and hold them, they will do better than they would in other investments. But that rule hasn't held up for stocks bought in the late 1990s or 2000.

Over the past nine years, the S&P 500 is the worst-performing of nine different investment vehicles tracked by Morningstar, including commodities, real-estate investment trusts, gold and foreign stocks.

Big U.S. stocks were outrun even by Treasury bonds, which historically perform much less well than stocks.

Adjusted for inflation, Treasurys are up 4.7 percent a year over the past nine years, and up 5.8 percent a year since the March 2000 stock peak. An index of commodities has shown about twice the annual gains of bonds, as have real-estate investment trusts.

Stocks also underperformed other investments during the 1930s and the 1970s. During both of those periods, stocks would rally strongly, only to fade. It took well over a decade in each case for stocks to move lastingly upward."


I honestly didn't realize just how bad stocks had got over the past decade. This rather surprised me. The source sounds legit, it appears to come from the Wall Street Journal.

I cannot imagine a world where stocks stay a worse investment than gold. Maybe I am short sighted, but I read that and think: It has been a decade and stocks haven't risen much. The last two times that happened it lasted about a decade. Therefore stocks are due for some massive increases. Stocks really should be pretty cheap in comparison to other investments. Perhaps our huge trade deficit, and public debt mean an end to the stock market being a good place to put money. I am not counting on it though. Stocks have just done too well historically, they are almost certainly due for a run up. Chances are high that now is the equivalent of buying gold in 2000 when it was cheap as heck, and no one thought it was a good investment.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Not addicted

I did a google search for "glmory" for the first time in a long time. Apparently there are 56 000 hits. I am famous!


I am starting to hear a lot of people talk about gold, in the same way they were talking about housing three or four years ago. This graph is just to remind you that the price of gold is very volatile and a risky investment.


Yay for unwinnable arguments

Arguments about who has it better males or females always amuse me. Most women have been fed enough feminist doctrine over their lives to make the answer obvious to them. Guys have an unfair advantage. Just being male allows them to get ahead when women wouldn’t.

This argument seems pretty easy to support. The average feminist looks at the number of female CEOs, Congressmen, Noble Prize winners and comes up with the obvious conclusion. Society favors males.

The real answer is far more complicated. Yes, being a male at the top of the totem pole is probably the best position in society. It does not however come without great cost however.Males are also far more likely to end up at the bottom. Examples include the following:

A white male is 4 times as likely to commit suicide as a white female(even more shockingly they are twice as likely as a black male, but among every race men commit suicide more)

Ten times as many males than females are in prison

Three out of four murder victims are male. Interestingly here, both males and females are more likely to murder males. Women being 5 times as likely to murder a male than a female, males being 3 times as likely to murder a male than a female.

One out of every fifty U.S. Deaths in Iraq were female.

Men historically have been half as likely to have children. In modern America the effect is smaller because of the lack of polygamy. But a small number of men still have a large percentage of children.(that linked article is a masterpiece)

And of course women average living 5+ years longer than men. If memory serves me correctly the difference is about 7 years in America.

Essentially life as a male is more precarious. You have the ability to rise farther, but you also have the ability to fall farther and harder. Life is forced to be more of a competition. Is that good or bad on a whole? It is neither. It totally is a matter of preference.

Some of the commonly argued reasons it is better to be male have no basis in reality. Women love thinking they work more hours than men for example. Just about every study that has looked at this subject has found them to work equal hours, at least in America.

Women of course will quickly, and rightly, point to sexual violence, periods/pregnancy, a "glass ceiling" and so on. These are legitimate reasons why being female isn’t ideal. However saying that one sex has it better than the other, or has any real advantage remains impossible. It is totally a matter of preference. No matter how many feminists try to beat the idea that males have it easy into your head. As a male at the top of the totem pole I am in a damn good position. However if I had worse luck in life I might be thinking being female would be superior. When I am 75 and dying, I know ill sure be wishing for those extra 7 years.

Damn Upstate NY

My friend is getting married. She mentioned that her boyfriend just bought a house. Now, he just got out of the military and is hardly rich, so that surprised me a bit. Then she linked the house to me.

I don’t want to go back to CA so much anymore :(

Yes, that is the price.

The owner accepted a slightly lower offer though.

I look down on thee Princeton

I just took a look at the new graduate school rankings for Engineering. Cornell was 9th. This isn’t bad. More important however it lets me look down on a lot of people. Cornell was the top Engineering program in the ivy league. Take that you losers at Princeton! Now I shall pretend I am not at Harvard or Princeton because they don't have a good program in my field of study.


Its fairly long, but this is the best article I have seen on how we could use Thorium to fix the issues nuclear power plants have allowing it to fill the promise Uranium had in the 1950s...

Tell Me This Isn't real

Can someone read this article and convince me it is a parody of something? I cannot believe a newspaper column in a major newspaper could be so poorly thought out. By the same logic we should:

Burn corn fields to prop up the price of corn, Imprison fast food workers to try to drive up the salary they make, break windows so more people have work replacing these windows, and so on. Destroying wealth to prop up its paper value is never a good idea.

The even more funny thing is that he actually seems to believe destroying large numbers of houses wouldn’t hurt anyone. I for one am very much hurt by anything that artificially limits the supply of housing in America. It comes as close to generational and class warfare as I have seen. Help those who own houses at the expense of the young, and poor.

I hope I am just missing the joke.

Fall houses!

This little bit of math summed up pretty well why housing prices simply can’t go anywhere but down. Also as a young person who stands to do nothing but gain from this whole debacle it pretty well sums up what I think the government should be doing.

"Take Los Angeles County, where the median price of a house peaked higher than $530,000. With a 6% interest rate and assuming a 10% down payment, the total annual cost of owning such a house would be $35,000 for the mortgage alone and $43,000 if taxes and insurance are thrown in. This would eat up roughly 75% of gross annual income of your median homeowner in the county -- much more than twice the maximum affordability rate used by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac when making loan decisions. Prices are going to fall one way or another; it’s only a function of time. They simply aren’t sustainable at their current levels."


Well, we almost made it

Oil numbers just finally got released for the end of last year on the EIA page. Despite oil prices going through the roof, 2005 remains the year the world produced the most oil.

1997: 64 744 thousand barrels per day
1998: 66 966 thousand barrels per day
1999: 65 992 thousand barrels per day
2000: 68 495
2001: 68 101
2002: 67 168
2003: 69 448
2004: 72 512
2005: 73 807
2006: 73 539
2007: 73 310

This is what it will look like when the world hits peak oil. Despite huge increases in price the world’s production of oil will just stop going up. In 1998 the price of oil was only $15 a barrel, in 2000 it was about $20 and still production increased. Now it is through the roof, and production is stuck.

A 3 year small drop isn’t conclusive evidence, probably another 5 years are needed, but at $110 a barrel every oil producing country in the world is going to be squeezing out every barrel they can of production. And still production has been flat. How much more does the price need to go up before production stops stagnating?

And I leave you with a somewhat scary quote from a recent Business Week Article:

" But how could oil production be flat? Peer into Exxon’s historical numbers and you see the problem Tillerson faces. Since 2000, Exxon’s oil output from two of its largest regions, the U.S. and Europe, declined a startling 37%. That’s 500,000 fewer barrels a day in just seven years."

For oil production to even stay flat right now, countries that can produce more oil, have to do so more quickly than production drops in America, Europe, and a few other areas.
Well, it will probably just get eaten by deer since I haven’t thought of a good way to protect them from deer(or for that matter gotten permission from my land lord). but I just bought seeds for:

Gold Baby Watermelon

Blacktail Mountain Watermelon

Cream of Saskatchewan Watermelon

Cherokee Purple Tomatoes

White Beauty or Snowball Tomatoes

Lemon Cuke Cucumber

Cosmic Purple Carrots

Japanese Giant Red Mustard

"WHICH economy has enjoyed the best economic performance over the past five years: America’s or Japan’s? Most people will pick America. The popular perception is that America’s vibrant economy was sprinting ahead (albeit fuelled by credit and housing bubbles that have now painfully burst), whereas Japan crawled along at a snail’s pace. And it is true that America’s average annual real GDP growth of 2.9% was much faster than Japan’s 2.1%. However, the single best gauge of economic performance is not growth in GDP, but GDP per person, which is a rough guide to average living standards. It tells a completely different story. GDP growth figures flatter America’s relative performance, because its population is rising much faster, by 1% a year, thanks to immigration and a higher birth rate. In contrast, the number of Japanese citizens has been shrinking since 2005. Once you take account of this, Japan’s GDP per head increased at an annual rate of 2.1% in the five years to 2007, slightly faster than America’s 1.9% and much better than Germany’s 1.4%. In other words, contrary to the popular pessimism about Japan’s economy, it has actually enjoyed the biggest gain in average income among the big three rich economies. Among all the G7 economies it ranks second only to Britain (see left-hand chart)."


I am pretty shocked so few people have pointed out a lot of the simple truths of this article.

Anti-Stretching Propaganda


More anti-stretching propaganda.

It might do a little, but it is at least way over-sold.

Moving Over

For various reasons(lack of an ability to search old posts, lack of visibility, not saving drafts automatically) I have decided to transfer my blog from Myspace to here. Ill probably not transfer all of it, but ill move the last