Wednesday, April 30, 2008

New Zealand Versus England Part Two

New Zealand is all set for some sweet revenge against the Poms. After losing the home series 2-1, which was more disappointing considering we were 1-0 up!, the Blackcaps will take on the English on their home soil.

Now the 20/20 match will be fun, the one dayers will be interesting, but all that really matters is the three test matches, England are red hot favorites, but I'm predicting that the Blackcaps will win the series 2-0.

My main reason is pictured, a young man named Tim Southee who is brilliant with the ball, like a young Hadlee and is devastating with the bat like Chris Cairns, some say hes too young to be playing tests, I disagree.

When you have a guy like him batting way down the order, it helps the brittle batting of the top order, and then if the conditions are overcast, he will start swinging the ball, he will have several warm up games under his belt, and I think even at the tender age of 19, he will be player of the series.

With some batsman coming into form and the team being captain by the brillant Daniel Vetorri, we are in with a real chance. The Blackcaps need this series victory, and I thinking the timing is right.

Roll on the Tests!!!!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Amy and Maxi go for a ride

I don't think there are many things more lovely than a little girl and her pony. Maxi is three now and I guess we could say that Amy broke in her first pony when she was two years old. These two have learned together and Maxi absolutely adores 'his' human.

My life was bitter and hopeless. Then, I discovered coffee.

Reilly gives his first lesson

Reilly and Amy have effectively grown up together. Amy is always on at me to let her ride so today Reilly was the lesson pony. He's wise and sensible beyond his years as I think this video helps illustrate. Luff my boy!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Brown Swan

My brother sent this to me via email. It was too good not to share.

My Negative Black Swan:

I thought it was impossible to shit in my pants whilst farting on my cohorts.........until the day that I did. The dramatic outcome was that I had to sit around in gym shorts all day while my clothes were in the washer. What is worse is that I didn't think lightning could strike twice, but a year or so later, it did. The difference is that I hedged my bets by clenching my asscheeks together ('switching to manual") and I all I had to do was waddle to the restroom and wipe up the damage. Essentially, a "Brown Swan" could have ruined my life, but I was ready for it. I am glad someone has finally written a book on how to clench your asscheeks together. I thought I was the only person in the world to think this way.

Useless Knowledge

At some point during a discussion of the War of 1812 in your high school history class, you probably wondered something that many kids wondered before you and wonder today. How is this going to help me make money?

Like it or not, most of the stuff you learned in school was a waste of time. Did you really need to read Hamlet? Did you really need to dissect that frog? Did you really need to know how to solve a quadratic equation? Would you make one penny less if you didn't know that Columbus discovered America in 1492?

I consider the fact that Sherlock Holmes was unaware that the world was round. Granted, Holmes is a fictional character, but his justification for not knowing that obvious fact was because it occupied room in his brain best reserved for knowing how to catch criminals. Such trivial facts as the earth being spherical are just a waste of time and resources.

If Sherlock Holmes strikes you as a bit idiotic on this, I will not disagree with you. The reason is because you never know when such a fact might come in handy. Plus, I believe the human mind has a finite capacity for storage, but I don't think anyone is in any danger of exceeding that capacity anytime soon. Learning something new or unnecessary is not going to squeeze out something old or useful.

Prior to 9/11, a knowledge of Arabic was a colossal fucking waste of mindpower. After 9/11, that knowledge became very valuable. You simply cannot know when such knowledge will be in high demand. Similary, such high demand skills like computer science have seen an erosion in income thanks to the internet which now allows employers to outsource to India. When you add in the constant upgrade of those skills required, a job as a welder looks pretty damn rewarding.

The value of knowledge follows the same laws of supply and demand as any other commodity. This is why your next cab might have a physics Ph.D. behind the wheel. This is also why a chef working in a kitchen can earn up to six figures a year. Supply and demand.

My best career advice is the same one you got back in high school. Strive to be wellrounded. Pursue the Renaissance Ideal. Know something about a lot of different things. Be an autodidact. An array of skills makes you way more employable. Granted, you might not ever use all that you learned, but you simply cannot know when something you know might be worth something.

Another aspect of this useless knowledge is the fact that new ideas are really recombinations of old ideas. Henry Ford got the idea for the assembly line from combining what Olds was doing at his place with what Chicago meatpackers were doing at their place. Ford decided to move the cars instead of the people, and he changed the world profoundly.

As I have pointed out before, your success in life is largely due to luck. But you can improve your odds and/or lower your risk by diversification. In hindsight, we can tell someone that they should have become a doctor or a geologist or what have you. In hindsight, I can tell you that the calligraphy class that Steve Jobs took was a very smart move. It is why we have fonts on our computers today. But I could not recommend that subject to anyone other than Steve Jobs. If you want a career as a calligrapher, I am afraid Mr. Jobs has put you out of a job.

Most highly specialized jobs are exceedingly dull. I can't think of any job outside of science or academia that requires 100% of your mental powers. Even those jobs in science or academia are full of repetitive and boring tasks like teaching classes or doing trials or what have you. Dull dull dull.

Our economy grows because of specialization and the division of labor. This is where productivity comes from. Jobs are so easy these days that people spend most of their time on the job goofing off. But that is another topic for another post. The bottom line is that specialization is easily achieved without subtracting other things from your life. Just because you drill holes in sheet metal all day doesn't mean you can't enjoy reading Proust.

Stupid people hate smart people. So, when these stupid people see someone smart not making a lot of money, they like to gloat. But you know, stupid is stupid. Being smart is valuable for its own sake. I would rather be poor and intelligent than rich and retarded. But without a doubt, being rich and smart is the way to go.

Right now, the world's richest man is Warren Buffett. This might change back to Bill Gates or Carlos Slim. But it doesn't matter because they have some of the same habits. Buffett is a reader. He reads a lot of different books on things that have no direct relation with what he does for a living. Similarly, Carlos Slim is an omnivore when it comes to knowledge. These men love to learn. They see value in it. Likewise, my hero, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, is a rich guy who is also a polymath. Earning money is merely a chore to finance what he really enjoys doing which is learning.

Money is important. It just isn't the most important thing in life. Happiness is the most important thing, and I can tell you that stupidity and happiness never meet.

PRINT-The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Nassim Nicholas Taleb's The Black Swan is a book about highly improbable events that have a very large impact. Taleb's target is the Gaussian Bell Curve and the delusion that it creates which he terms the ludic fallacy.

Taleb divides the world into two fictional countries he calls Mediocristan and Extremistan. Mediocristan is the world of the bell curve. It is where the distribution of events is normal. It looks like this:

Extremistan is quite different. Things are much more chaotic. Prediction is impossible. The world of extremistan is dominated by black swans that occur whenever and wherever. It really undermines confidence.

The world abounds with black swans--tsunamis, earthquakes, 9/11, war, fashion trends, etc. Even the best laid plans can be laid low by a black swan. Conversely, positive black swans can literally change your life overnight.

Taleb makes the case that the normal distribution is not really how the world is, and I tend to agree. Newtonian physics is not how the world really is either, but it works for certain applications. Similarly, the bell curve works for insurance, managing portfolios, etc.

Do I accept or reject Taleb's thesis? Looking at my own chaotic life, I am inclined to accept it. But I have no intentions of abandoning my current investment strategy for Taleb's barbell strategy of 80% of his wealth in Treasuries and 20% of his wealth in the riskiest shit the financial world has to offer. But I agree that you should have some exposure to positive black swans. It is the only way to become rich in a short period of time. Mediocristan is for those who wish to get rich slowly.

The Black Swan is not an investing book. It is more of a philosophical essay than anything else. Taleb's strategy involves embracing uncertainty and learning to live with it and even enjoy its beneficial consequences. I find this very appealling. This is why I network like a fiend and go to parties and apply for all sorts of jobs and study the crazy things I do. In order to enjoy these positive black swans, you just need exposure.

My current work is how to capture these black swans in the marketplace. Like indexing, it follows a strategy of diversification. That part is easy. The hard part is hedging the risk. This is the difficulty. A lot of stuff to think about and consider.

I highly recommend this book.

MONET, The Studio Boat

Friday, April 25, 2008

Well we did it - Our first dressage test

Again Reilly has knocked my socks off with his amazing mind. He soaked everything up today like a big brown hairy sponge and never put a foot wrong. It's true that we have a very long way to go before we are ready for registered competition but, for a horse that has been under saddle for a month, quite frankly I think he is amazing.

The test was quite wobbly and my riding was abysmal but we still scored a perfectly respectable 61% with encouraging remarks from the judge. The photos are taken from a video so apolgies for the quality. The video is not for public consumption just yet as I am still trying to get over the state of my riding and the size of my thighs!!!

Gender Power Relations

Now that I have your attention, lets talk about Gender power relations. Apprently I'm not bright enough to talk about this important issue, according to someone from the blog "The Standard"

You see, I was foolish enough to mention that a video of a topless woman posted on Stephen Franks's blog, wont hurt his changes on getting into Parliament in November.

According to the good people over there, politics is over my head and they wont even begin to discuss Gender power relations with myself, because I'm not clever enough.

Well perhaps they are right, I never understood Twin Peaks or even the writing of Helen Keller. I never understood the struggles of the working woman, despite my years listening to country singers, sing about it.

But I'm going to give it a go!!!

The structure of power relations of the gender order is based on assumptions of what is is to be male and female. This arrangement divides humanity in to separate classes according to gender by attributing certain physical and psychological characteristics to each and, on closer observation, we can recognise these simply as a set of binary opposites. Women have traditionally been assigned fanciful qualities that, whilst desirable in any person, are unattainable. In order to assess the impact of the beauty industry on woman's experience in the world, I find it necessary to....

Stop... Those who read my blog, will know by now, I didn't write the above paragraph. But this is the kind of BS, that people have to put up with. Basically the Labour party in NewZealand is saying, that woman don't succeed in business because of men who treat them as objects. As a school teacher, Marion Hobbs spouted this crap to her students.

I work in Office Admin, and I have been lucky enough to have worked for some pretty successful companies, and some very successful woman, they all have one thing in common, they have never mentioned gender power relations in their life.

These are woman, of all shapes and sizes and races, who decided not to take the victim's route of saying "They are against me because Im a woman" They succeeded because they did the hard work and were recognized for it.

In my experiences these ladies, are the best managers, they understand the score and what needs to be done. On the negative side, the worst managers I have had, are the ones that have complained that they haven't gotten ahead because of what they look like, or because they are woman, they spend their working day, complaining that people are against them and making excuses when they fail. They are ones who are asking for seminars on Political Correctness and making people attend feel good courses.

Meanwhile the best managers, Woman, Men, White or Black are just doing the work and getting ahead.

Why do people on the far left find this so difficult to understand?

Constitutional law in unexpected places

For example, in George Clooney cinematic homages to His Girl Friday, every Cary Grant-Katherine Hepburn comedy, and movies depicting the minor-league backwaters of professional sports.

One of my colleagues was approached by a student in his Con Law I class, who had just seen the movie. According to the student (I have not seen the movie and probably will not until it comes out on video), one issue that arises is an attempt by Congress to regulate the new professional football league, including by requiring the teams to appoint a commissioner. (Can anyone who has seen the film confirm this?)

The ever-vigilant new law student (I always tell my 1Ls that a legal education changes the way you look at everything, even nostalgic slapstick comedy) wanted to know where Congress could get the power to tell a professional sports league how to run its business. The answer, of course, is the Commerce Clause.

But the interesting thing about that answer is that the story takes place in the 1920s, during the wild-west early days of professional football. And the prevailing view of the time was reflected in Justice Holmes' now-infamous decision in Federal Baseball Club v. National League, holding that professional baseball was not interstate commerce for purposes of the Sherman Act. And that decision at least intimates Holmes' (and the Court's) view at the time that professional sports were not interstate commerce for constitutional purposes, thus Congress lacked any power to regulate pro sports in the way apparently depicted in the movie.

Oh well. By now, we should be used to popular culture getting law mostly wrong.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Our first dressage lesson

Gawd I am knackered!!! We had our lesson with Jo today, my first real dressage lesson in YEARS! What a work out for Reilly and for me (an hour). Jo has 5 horses and of course they are all mares so Reilly chose today to realise he has balls, lol! The silly dufus fell in love with the very pretty weanling (he's a cradle snatcher!) filly in the paddock next to the arena. Not only was she a baby but her dam is by Light Spirits as is Reilly's dam 'What a Lark' so she is his cousin as well. He sang out merrily to her through the first half of the lesson and grew about a hand every time he had to trot past her, eejit! We also had a microlight go up in the paddock right next to the arena! - I mean what are the freakin odds?! Fortunately I was more worried about the microlight than Reilly was (he was too busy chatting up the new love of his life to care) and I was sure it was about to buzz us and was just preparing to bail out, hehe! Really happy with the boy though as once I had his focus, he tried really hard for me and even when he was distracted, he was not dirty, just focussed elsewhere rather than on me.
He was quite unsteady in his head during the lesson. I had my suspiscions that the saddle was pinching and unfortunately it appears that it was so, the GP is out and the dressage saddle, in

First dressage start tomorrow - Am pretty much pooping in my pants but I am sure he will look after me ...

Photos below and a video at the bottom:

Another victim of sports mascot violence

In a previous post, I discussed the interesting role of sports mascots in spectator injury cases. Assumption of risk usually bars spectators injured by batted balls at baseball games from suing the team or arena. However, there is a split on whether a spectator distracted by a mascot should be able to get around this ordinary bar.

The Tort Law Professor blog picks up the following interesting variant from the Chicago Tribune via Yahoo Sports:
A Naperville dentist called a flagrant foul on Chicago Bulls' mascot Benny the Bull on Monday, suing the team over a high-five gone awry. [The plaintiff] alleged he was sitting near courtside on Feb. 12 when he raised his arm to get a high-five from . . . the exuberant mascot in a bright red fuzzy costume. But [the plaintiff], an oral surgeon, may now wish he had settled for a fist-bump instead.

Instead of merely slapping [plaintiff's] palm, [Benny] grabbed his arm as he fell forward, hyperextending [plaintiff]'s arm and rupturing his biceps muscle . . . . "Benny's flying down the aisle, giving everybody high-fives," [plaintiff's] attorney, Shawn Kasserman, said . . . . "When he gets to [my client], he either inadvertently trips or, as part of the shtick, trips. . . . He grabbed [my client]'s arm and fell forward."

[The plaintiff] could miss as much as four months of work . . . The lawsuit claims [Benny the Bully] was negligent in either "falling forward while grabbing a fan's hand" or "running out of control" through the crowd.
Does one assume a certain risk of injury when willingly seeking to "high-five" a large fuzzy bull?

U. of Hawaii Enforces Contract Against Breaching Coach

In the first week of January, Hawaii football coach June Jones terminated his 5-year contract that expires on June 30 of this year and accepted a job worth about $2 million per year at Southern Methodist. Hawaii claims it is entitled to damages for his early termination in the amount of $400,008 (which amount represents half of his annual salary). Section 10.4 of the agreement clearly provides, "If Coach terminates this Agreement prior to June 30, 2008,...Coach shall pay to the University as liquidated damages the sum of $400,008."

Jones is now trying to get out of paying Hawaii. According to Jones' agent, Leigh Steinberg, there was an agreement with former athletics director Herman Frazier that "after three years, there would be no penalty if coach Jones were to leave the university. If that were not the case, coach Jones would always honor a contractual obligation." However, this alleged agreement with Frazier directly contradicts Section 10.2, which provides:
Coach therefore agrees, and specifically promises, not to accept employment, under any circumstances, as a men's football coach at any institution of higher education which is a member of the NCAA...requiring performance of duties prior to the expiration date of the term of this Agreement or any extension thereof, without first obtaining a written release of this Agreement or a negotiated settlement thereof in writing accepted by Coach and the University. In the event that the University releases Coach of his obligations under this Agreement, Coach shall be responsible for paying to the University liquidated damages, as set forth in Section 10.4.
Despite Sections 10.2 and 10.4, Steinberg says the matter is in the initial stages of being submitted to an arbitrator. Section 10.3 of the contract provides that disputes shall be decided in a final and binding arbitration by a mutually agreed upon arbitrator.

Jones breached his contract with Hawaii, and the contract is crystal clear that he owes $400,008. His refusal to pay Hawaii is the result of a culture that currently exists within collegiate athletics that schools won't, or shouldn't, enforce a contract against a coach who leaves for a more lucrative situation. Jones should feel fortunate that Hawaii released him from his contract, thus triggering the liquidated damages clause. Hawaii could have elected not to release him and pursue a negative injunction to prevent Jones from signing with SMU, because Jones acknowledged in his contract that the university would be irreparably harmed if he terminated early:
Coach represents to have special, exceptional and unique knowledge, skill and ability as a men's football coach, which, in addition to the future development of coaching experience at University, as well as University's special need for continuity in its men's football program, will render Coach's services unique. Coach recognizes that the loss of Coach's services to University, without University approval and release, prior to the expiration of the term of this Agreement or any renewal thereof, would cause an inherent loss to University which cannot be estimated with certainty, or fairly or adequately.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Sonny Vaccaro to Speak at Columbia University Tomorrow Night

For those of you in the New York City area, Columbia University will be hosting its second annual Sports Ethics Symposium tomorrow night from 6:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.. The keynote speaker will be basketball legend Sonny Vaccaro, who has recently delivered talks at Harvard Law School, Yale Law School, the University of Memphis, and the University of Maryland. Sonny's talk tomorrow will focus on the NBA's desire to raise the age limit and various issues in college sports.

Other speakers include

Chris Bevilacqua, Co-Founder, CSTV Networks/Partner, SCP Worldwide
Adolpho Birch, Vice President of Law and Labor Policy, National Football League
Gary Charles, New York Panthers/AAU Coaching Legend
Robert Lipsyte, Award-winning sports journalist
Chris Monasch, Athletic Director, St. John's University

For more details, click here.

It is better to make mistakes of boldness rather than timidity.

There is no end to work. Unemployment exists because of laziness and government tomfuckery.

New ideas are recombinations of old ideas.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Dr Cullen pulls the oldest trick in the book

For the life of me, I cannot understand why the media hasn't called up Dr Cullen on his latest underhanded sneaky trick. The Labour party has been pulling this for years and years, businesses have been using the same trick, yet the media remains silent.

Politicians for decades have been trying to get this down to perfection, but no one has had the amount of success at it, like the labour party of New Zealand.

It's all about low expectations, promising nothing, and then when you deliver very little, making yourself out to be a savior.

Take Dr Cullen's latest speech, he has told the New Zealand public, "There might be no tax breaks before the election" Oh no isn't that bad news, boys and girls. The media is screaming out "No Tax Breaks", well guess what? It's BS, there is going to be a tax break, and its going to be very little, but if Dr Cullen had made an announcement during the budget, saying its only going to be a small tax break, the country will be up in arms.

Now when Dr Cullen announces this tiny tax break, he will end up looking like a hero to the media, and some in the public for giving us something when he promised nothing.

The Labour party always does this, they give out the worst news possible, knowing that its a lie, then about two months later, they give out the real bad news, which the media says "Well it's not as bad as we thought" and the public thinks, Labour has done great.

I remember a few years ago, having an employer who did the same trick, we were told, that we would have to come in on the weekends, both Saturday and Sunday, every second weekend, there were of course groans of disapproval. But all of a sudden we had another meeting a few days later, telling us, we will just have to come in on Saturday.

Well our employer knew this all along, but it didn't stop about 50% of the staff, clapping and cheering.

This is how Labour does it's politics, believe me, we will here about how we are getting no Tax break, but then, Dr Cullen will announce a tiny wee cut in the rate, and will make himself out to be a hero.

Roll on November and a new Government, and I'm not confused about that at all.

Learning to jump (on the lunge)

I think it is safe to say that Reilly and I won't be rocking over to the UK any time soon for a crack at Badders or Burghley! Today, in an effort to get some 'lift off' I popped Reilly on the lunge and showed him some small jumps. He's certainly all heart but not too much 'ping' in the pony yet. He clearly wants to please but the idea of organising ones impulsion and ones legs all together so that one may pop over some poles is quite challenging for this wee chap. He may not have shown star quality today but he sure got an A for effort. Not once did he even look like he was going to refuse, bless him. Perhaps the jumps need to go up a metre for him to get the right idea?