Tried out Greymatter's blogging software thinking it would be nice while we're in transit, with the updates one directory over. It'll be March before I get back here, looks like.

(And now editing the gmblog content back to here: the interface just didn't make life better for me; the "magic" got in my way, and I don't want or need to update while on the road that much.)

The parrots are back in our neighborhood, did they go south for the winter, or just settle in out of earshot? Earshot covers a fair amount of territory for these guys; they're big, they're green, they're noisy, and they've got an attitude. Does that green blend in somewhere? Here, it's just a little bit off, not blending with evergreen, or spring green, or summer green.

Today is pre-packing day, other than boxing up the computer stuff, the only task is to make a (small) pile of what we want to take with us in the van. I've been procrastinating.

The last non-work events of "being here"... West Bay Opera's performance of Tartuffe last night, and our last morning at church, singing. We closed with a piece from Handel's oratorio, "Samson," "Let their celestial concerts unite." Nice to leave on a day with a service about joy, in robust four-part harmony. Diane and Charlie came to the late service, after I told her this was the last chance to meet me there, and I think we're all sorry we didn't get together sooner.

It's so easy to get into a routine, we seem to have a positive longing for regularity. A survival thing, perhaps, we're better off with the pantry well-stocked and no surprises. But at the transitions, all the detail gets sharper and more interesting, and seems to acquire deeper meaning. I've been wondering what word combines "joy" and "sorrow," the combined emotions of completion, commencement, anticipation, farewell, moving. Poignancy, bittersweet nostalgia, piercing...

3:18pm, a deep basso rumbling through the floor... somebody downstairs? No, it's an earthquake, the first one we've felt in our year here. After awareness, then recognition, I put down the thesaurus, exclaimed and jumped up to get in a doorway. That's about all I care for of that business! Our last stay featured the Loma Prieta temblor, which was plenty Big enough for my lifetime. (I found the USGS site a little later, turned in my "I felt it" report.)

Double check the emergency supplies, that could have been a foreshock.


Maya Lin's clock and the Stanford Teaching Center, 2001

Life is a gas; it expands to fill its container. For us, it's time to bottle things up, and ship 'em out. Our little hiatus in California has run out of time, and we're moving back to Idaho. The myriad of collected oddments have to be sorted into keepers and chuckers, and the former have to be sorted into movers and what goes in the van.

We arrived when the plum trees were flowering, and we leave the same time, a year later. It seems a shame to miss the California spring, but we'll have it up north (and we won't have to worry about having missed any). And, since I didn't quite finish what I was down here for, I'll be doing some more "commuting." Switching from bicycling to flying is not an improvement.

And before that, some driving. It's been raining for a week down here, and snowing in the Sierra Nevada. A little bit of a dry spell would be nice, so we don't have to unroll those chains...

Meanwhile, back on the 'net... The Register's piece on the failure of community on the web has one memorable phrase (at least!) describing many of the forums for reader response: "(a) mechanism that doesn't lend itself to discussion as much as barking." Of course, that's true for Letters to the Editor, too, and those are one of the more interesting parts of newspapers. Sometimes a greater hurdle to participation can be a good thing, I guess.

Junior stock trader (and tout) makes bad, SEC punishes him for some of what he did. Michael Lewis tells the story as only he can.

"In the beginning, I would write, like, very professionally. But then I started putting stuff in caps and using exclamation points and making it sound more exciting. That worked better. When it's more exciting, it draws people's attention to it compared to when you write like, dull or something."


I haven't gone shopping for DSL yet, and it looks like it won't be as much fun when I do. There's something to be said for good service at a fair price, but it's hard for that message to get through the hyperactive markets we have. Telephones, airlines, electricity... which "utility" is going to fail next?!

(I should note that California's power brokers seem to be making progress — the lights have stayed on the last couple of days, we're off the daily Phase 3 alert drill for the moment.)

One of the sphinxes at Leland and Jane's mausoleum

Buckyballs from outer space, riding on a giant meteor. Most forms of aquatic and terrestial life are extinguished. Science fiction? Nope, it's morning on Gaia, 250 million years ago.

Well, maybe they're not all connected events, but the "most forms dying" part did happen. If not the big rock from space, then what? Massive Siberian volcanoes?


Larry Ellison says the web is getting boring. Howard Kurtz has a list of others who think so too. "Was it all . . . just . . . a meaningless fling?"


JPL has a fun applet for inspecting the orbit of the asteroid Eros. And the last images from NEAR Shoemaker before it "touched down." 120m away from a small asteroid. Amazing.

I got an interesting spam yesterday, for something I'm not interested in buying. "Traffic magnet" wants to get my site listed in "300,000+" search engines, for a small fee. That's not interesting, but the conversational tone, and the use of HTML was: they'd captured and shrunk an image of my top level index page, and had a cute animation of stick figures "magnetically attracted" to my site, thanks to the big read horseshoe magnet they were going to supply, depicted on the left. The text was short, to the point and not any more obnoxious than it had to be. Almost personable.

The message also had several webbugs in it, so they've verified my email address works, and I can look forward to lots more of this cleverness. :-/


We're getting ready to move, and I have a lot of bits and pieces to clean up. This seems like as good a place as any to put them!

Useit meets Magritte, in elegant satire.

High Performance Sailing by Frank Bethwaite, mentioned as a reference by a reviewer of my spinout FAQ. Reader reviews at Amazon make it sound like something I want.

On bubbles, I suppose: "A Short History of Financial Euphoria," by John K. Galbraith, recommended by a coworker.

Seen in email: Network television is developing a "Idaho Version" of "Survivor", the popular TV show. Contestants must travel from Boise through Twin Falls, Pocatello, Idaho Falls, up through Coeur d'Alene, Post Falls, Moscow, Lewiston, and back to Boise... driving a Volvo with a bumper sticker that reads: "I'm for Gore, I'm Gay and I'm Here to Take Your Guns." The first to complete the round trip is the winner.

Very cool javascript spring toy.

Moving planet Earth? Piece of cake!

Mike's List is billed as "the Silly Con Valley Report." Among issue #12's amusing tidbits is this one: "Houston, this is Atlantis. We have a blue screen — repeat, blue screen — over."

He writes a Winmag column, too.

Magnets and microchips combine in a transparent supermaterial

How the Space Shuttle comes home. The units are funny: the various numbers (like 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit) were converted to metric, and the conversion put first. Heat can "range as high as 1,648.9 degrees Celsius." What, their thermometer doesn't go all the way to 1,649? :-) Nevertheless, it's pretty interesting reference work for the leading edge of human technology.

Here's something else up in the sky: the Aurora Borealis.

Get ready for the genetic exuse:

How single genes can produce such surprising transformations is not yet fully understood, but it seems that the state of the fruitless and dissatisfaction genes pretty much specifies all the rules in the playbook of fruitfly dating.

-- from The New York Times.


Another rainy weekend, although the day started out balmy and pleasant, and I wasn't smart enough to go outside. (I'll get out in the rain; I like that, too.) I made another run at getting this CD-RW working, before bundling it up and taking it back to Fry's.

I went for the belt and suspenders approach, and bought a 5-pack of 100MB ZIP disks last night. I've been holding out on the purchase for a year or so, because I figured the media was overpriced. I'd seen an empty shelf over a 5-pack for $35 sign last time I was there, and now there was a $50 5-pack, but with a $10 rebate coupon (and gee whiz, a carrying case thrown in). That was - just - enough to back up our users tree, and my growing collection of digital images, after I went through and cleaned out duplicates, work-in-process, and other non-essentials. With a sufficiently complete backup in hand, I could proceed with the CD-RW less stressfully.

Working from the surprisingly detailed and effective support email message HP sent in response to my inquiry about last weekend's debacle, I did most almost all the things they'd suggested, leaving off only the boot at VGA/SVGA display resolution (to avoid video driver conflicts). Shut down everything other than Explorer, and the MyCD program.

That worked, writing to TDK 12X-certified 74min. media at 8X. (5 min. to write a half-full disk, and half that to verify it!) I was so excited that I said "yes" to "make another copy?" thinking it was asking me if I wanted to make another (different) disk. Ouch. Cancel. Tried to reuse, before learning what I needed to about re-using, and the MyCD program didn't teach me.

Another q&a with email support (<1 hr turnaround!), gave the suggestion to use the DirectCD program, which allows conventional "read/write" access (even though a CD-R is "write once"), and the option to leave a disk open, or close it out when it's ejected. That works like a champ from what I can see, isn't fussy about having everything else closed out (although discretion is probably advised), and even allowed me to salvage the unused half-disk of the one I'd hosed with MyCD. (Yes, I tested reading back files with my CD-ROM, although an audit, not a 100% test.)

Sunset on Valentine's Day eve, from our porch

Things were looking up, and I could do something other than system administration (although I still have to figure out how to get the CD-RW and the ZIP playing at the same time...) I thought a full-sized print of the lovely sunset on the eve of Valentine's Day would be nice.

But the cartridges in my Photosmart printer have gone Photostupid, and keep telling me to reseat or clean them indefinitely. :-( Perhaps they've expired? I know they have ink left, I printed out a bunch of pictures around Christmas time. Should've quit while I was ahead.


Pluto and taupe are out. This made me chuckle repeatedly.

Bill Clinton and Clarence Thomas — soul mates?

Kansas comes back to the fold of civilization, after voting three of the yahoos off the State Board of Education.


Dinner last night in the city. Getting there (and back) was half the fun. I debated driving, but decided to go multi-modal: bike and train.

The 22d St. Caltrain station is under I-280, which is on really tall columns there. Strange and gloomy around sunset. Took Pennsylvania down along 280 to Cesar Chavez, and up that to Dolores. Chavez is intense, with narrow lanes, parked cars and fast traffic.

Up Dolores to 25th - 2 extra, and steep blocks! - then DOWN and up, to... Diamond? Have I gone too far? Nah, I couldn't have missed Castro. Next is Douglass, and yes I went too far. More steep up to 26th, not too bad a drop back to Diamond, tried to keep the momentum around the corner, got as far as back to Chavez, and walked the last block to 27th. (The trick is that Chavez and 27th don't go through at the 800 block; 26th does, and 25th is 2 blocks further then you need to go.)

I'd peeled my raincoat halfway, and could've gone without the sweater by then (so that's why they call it a "sweater").

Coming back down for the 9:05 train, it was mostly brakes the first half, then roll down 26th, through a decidely dicey neighborhood. I went one block too far, had to come back to Bryant to get across Chavez at a light, then back to 280 and up the easy climb on Pennsylvania. The 22d St. station was weirdly deserted, intensely lit with sodium vapor lamps on both sides. I had just enough time to consider putting a $20 bill in the first ticket vending machine I've seen that appeared operational, but decided against it. The train had plenty of riders, it must load up at the 4th and King end of the line. (22d St. is the first stop going south.)

It was nice to sit back and read a book on the ride south. My Year of Meats an interesting novel my sister gave me for Christmas.

Promoted my collection of odd notes about patents into a weblog-style patent watch, in celebration of the overturning of the injunction against Barnes & Noble. Usability is for everyone!


NEAR's 2 billion mile warranty has run out, and NASA put it down on Eros. Just in time for Valentine's Day. What an amazing feat!

Origami hearts, by Jeanette

Jeanette's winging her way to Anchorage, for a month worth of theater packed into the 5-day ACTF Northwest Regional annual conference. Not the best time to tourist to Alaska, but hey, you have to have dark to make theater go, right? I'm hoping she gets to see the northern lights.

Struggling with the end-of-life of the Microsoft O/S I bought three years ago (Win95 OSR2.1 - it came with an "upgrade" certificate for Win98 when it came out, which I never cashed), it's hard not to see something insidious about Windows Media Player securing music. The accumulation of shovelware has my machine blue-screening when it should be writing CD-Rs, and Media Player is one piece of the puzzle. I got fed up with Real at some point, uninstalled it, decided that MP was the only thing that would be, could be reliable. Could be an absurdly wrong inference, or maybe a coincidence, or maybe Microsoft's plan is that only their software will work reliably with their O/S.


Went to hear Michael Shermer talk last night, at the local Humanists group's Darwin Day event. (Darwin's birthday is easy to remember: he and Abraham Lincoln were born on the same day in 1809.)

Shermer's the editor of Skeptic magazine, and the author of several books. One of his, Why People Believe Weird Things is on my list of the best books I've read lately. Among other useful tidbits, it included a list of 25 fallacies in thinking, conveniently grouped into scientific, pseudo-scientific, logical and pyschological problems.

The topic was evolution, suitably enough, and I found him to be a dynamic, interesting and entertaining speaker. We bought another of his books, How We Believe afterwards.

One of the interesting things he mentioned was the explicit strategy of the Center for Renewal of Science & Culture, whereby they mean to split the trunk of materialism, which is scientific materialism. The CRSC's search engine didn't turn up the document that the Humanist's serve from their index, The Wedge Strategy, but the brief paragraph at the bottom is in the same key. Shermer pointed out that the irony of having "5 year plans" seems to have escaped the fundamentalist proponents of this "conservative" strategy.

The bad meme that just won't go away... I did my own response to a work of Biblical literalism back in 1994, fwiw. Mostly I don't tilt at that windmill these days.

This excerpt from the book IBM and the Holocaust gives a chilling new sense to the idea of a "multi-national corporation." That all this history was still available made me think about "corporate retention policies," of renewed interest after Microsoft was pilloried for the candid email exchanges detailing their monopolistic abuses. It's standard policy to destroy old records, where "old" means more than a year old for the routine paperwork of corporate life. Cover your tracks. Cover your ass. Provide plausible deniability.


It's one of those days when I really hate computers.

I bought a CD-RW. First try was a whizzy 12x/8x/32x Sony model, but I overlooked the minimum requirement of a P2-400MHz CPU. Called Sony, lines too full, try the website. Explored the website with no answer to my question (can I use the higher performance model anyway, just run it at a slower speed?), so tried the phone again. This time I got into the hold queue, Muzakked for close to an hour, when I got a ring tone. "Lines too full, try the website." Disconnect.

Back to the Fry's (glad I didn't do this mailorder!), they gladly credited me, and I bought an 8x/4x/32x HP, more the speed of my 1998-vintage machine. Got the hardware hooked up, in a sub-optimum way, given that the open IDE slot was on the primary controller with the HD. Rather than start swapping things around to get the CD-ROM and CD-RW on one, and the floppies and HD on the other (can that work?), I figured I'd try it anyway.

Brand new Maxell disk fails the write test at 8x. Try 4x. That passes, and starts writing about 600MB of stuff I want to archive. 82% of the way through, the system locks up hard, all disk activity ceases. Front panel reboot, to celebrate my first coaster.

Get even more careful about shutting everything else down before starting, try to outwit the screen saver ghost that seems to come from the default Win95 profile into mine. This is complicated by Display/Properties blue screening on my, fatal exception 06. I've seen that from time to time, when I start WS_FTP LE. It often happens on the first startup, but dismisses clean, then I can go. So, do that, and I can get into Display Properties, do my best to shutoff the screen saver.

Try the HP disk that came with. Fails the write test at 4x, 2x, 1x. Try another Maxell disk at 2x. Tweak the cursor a bit from time to time during the 34 minute run, to make sure the screen saver timer doesn't kick in. At 20 minutes to go, bump the mouse, and...

BLACK SCREEN straight to a reboot, coaster #2. :-(

I really need to wipe the slate clean and start over with Windows95. It was hardly designed to go one year without a re-install, let alone three. But I need to back up my system first! On what, 100MB ZIP disks? Puhlease.

W.'s giant tax cut may be a desperate attempt to redeem Poppy's "read my lips" debacle. It seems nearly certain to happen, in some form similar to what he campaigned with. Paul Krugman and Robert Rubin (among others!) think it's a sham and a bad idea. The 15% "payroll tax" that's the majority of what 4 out of 5 taxpayers pay isn't going to be reduced, and it isn't going to stave off a recession. But it is going to repay a lot of investment made in electing George W. Bush.

More than three weeks of stage 3 power alerts — less than 1.5% reserve — and the panic is still bringing profit opportunities.

"The simple fact is that a handful of people who were really smart figured out how to make a ton of money selling the same product in essentially the same market conditions as before at 10 times the price," said Michael Kahn, chairman of the California Electricity Oversight Board and co-author of a state study on how the market here collapsed.

Texas based Reliant Energy and Dynegy are two of the big winners.


Ya know what gets me? When designers use these ridiculous pull quotes as a headline, right before the quote in the body. It's even more annoying than having pull quotes for text that's a couple pages away. Gee, that's interesting, where does it say that? Or, QUIT SHOUTING, I'M TRYING TO READ.

I've decided that when I come to a big quote that's immediately repeated in the body, I'm leaving.

I've decided that when I come to a big - oops, I already said that, didn't I? Hey wait, come back, I was just kidding!


Someone at the office wrote that "proper written English should not contain contractions." I took exception, given that the antonym of "proper" is "improper," but perhaps he meant "formal."

It's that old battle of the descriptive, versus the prescriptive. When you're learning, "rules" have an important place. Then you learn that rules don't always tell you what you need to know. A recommended "look at a Style Guide" brought me to the graceful guide to Grammar and Style by Jack Lynch. Recommended.

Data Mining is hot. As with most business fads, there's some froth on the top.

It is also entirely automated, reacting instantly to changes in a customer's behavior, unlike the vast majority of personalized services on the Web today that require people to fill out questionnaires.

Somebody needs a clue.


The Republicans in Idaho are trying to kill (they say "privatize," but even though the state provides less than a third of its budget, what they're after is clear enough) Idaho Public TV, because the people who run it had the temerity to air a program called Itís Elementary, a one-hour documentary that explores how to stop the cycle of homophobia early on. It chronicled how some schools are dealing with gay issues in the classroom.

Last year, the Legislature passed "Legislative Intent Language" for IDPTVís FY 2001 appropriation prohibiting the network from broadcasting any program "which promotes, supports or encourages violation of Idaho criminal statutes." In June 2000 IDPTV aired another program, Our House, a documentary about children with gay and lesbian parents.

That set them over the edge, and they passed a Resolution calling for privatizing Idaho Public TV. Read all about it in Bornstein and Associates' report, Governance Options for Idaho Public Television.

In case you didn't know - the Republicans in Idaho pretty much get what they want; they totally run Idaho's Legislature and Executive, and our US Congressional delegation is 100% in- er, pure-bred. They'd be perfectly happy to shoot themselves in the foot to muzzle a public voice that makes them uncomfortable. IDPTV costs the state about $1.50 per person, per year, and the B&A report makes it clear that there is no commercial alternative that provides the same value to the state.

What they don't make clear is whether the loss of the state's meddling and attempts at prior restraint would justify the loss of its funding. I'm ready to comment, but I need to hear more of the arguments pro and con. Wish I could get to the hearing tonight...


Big gusts and gale warnings tonight, it blew like stink all day. I worked. Thought about sailing, but the short day, temp in the 50s, and moving day 3 weeks away dissuaded me.

Got the last of my 1099s in the mail yesterday. Started working through the schedule D stuff from stock spinoffs and mergers. I must have half a dozen this year. The Agilent one was a walk in the park, since it's been analyzed to death, and I have good records of my HP holdings, and the HP documentation has been exhaustive (sometimes exhaustING). On top of that, just assuming zero basis for the A fractional shares comes within a couple bucks of the right answer.

I got mired in the USWest one though. I missed the original T -> USW spinoff, but since then, 100 shares of USW (bought in 1991) have turned into 100 ea. of USW and UMG, then 102 and 100 and some cash from a fractional share in 1998, and this year, the USW has become 170-some shares of Qwest, and the UMG turned into shares of T and a about as much cash as I'd put in to start the whole deal.

Qwest has a worksheet, with half a dozen different date brackets for when you got the USW. The USW/UMG/Dex distribution from 1998 part seems screwed up - there's a multiply by 36.change that makes for a basis of hundreds of dollars - for the 2.something shares? and the total basis comes out more than I put in. That can't be, but I don't know where (or who) made the mistake. I actually have some paperwork from 1998 taxes with me, but all that says is that I surrendered 100 shares of old USW and got 102 shares of new. (No mention of the fractional share that was liquidated, although that shows up on my schedule D.)

It's lunacy.

But hey, given death and taxes as the two long-term alternatives, I still like the latter. :-*

Postscript: I ended up finding a corrected version of the Qwest worksheet on their site. Google's cache turned up the old Dex distribution worksheet, which was on the now defunct http://www.uswest.com/. I also tracked down the worksheet I needed from the AT&T site, after waiting for half a dozen "enhanced" menus to load on their whizzy pages. That USWest was a good investment, but it sure is a mess of paperwork.


Today's trick is a binary sequence: 1, 2, 4. It's always something.

It was a wildly beautiful spring day here in Palo Alto. Temperature in the mid 60s, not a cloud to interrupt the blue sky and sun, and trees and shrubs and ground covers all flowering. We went for short rides, back and forth to sing, and to hear singing at the UUCPA.

Jeanette and I combined for our report on Año Nuevo to see the elephant seals. Paul Andrews wrote about his visit, too, and points to the State Reserve's website. I tuned in after the photovoltaic webcam was off for the night, and the video didn't work for some reason.

If you haven't seen it, you really need an audio track to experience it. They make the most amazing sounds: like bad plumbing, and incapacitating flatulence.


If not the cruelest month, it's at least the shortest. Perhaps that's mercy? Today seems significant because it's 01-02-03, or 03-02-01, depending on how you write your dates. (Of course March 3d will look that second way to some of us... but it doesn't seem as authentic, now does it?)

The 2001 Bloggies already got handed out, and I didn't even know they were having a contest! Ah well.

Zeldman won two categories, but says he voted for Heather Champ. Unlike those two, the grand prize winner has resizeable text. Bless her heart.

These things always give me such a weight of unfinished work of my own. My site's not as beautified, my pictures are piling up, my scripting's not exciting, and so on. Then I get over it for a while.

Last night we walked to the theater and saw Three Tall Women (review from a different production), put on by Palo Alto Players. Great play by the author of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" Close to the end of the second act, when the drama gets really powerful, the 'A' character was looking my way, and I had this moment of contact with the actor, the playright, the human condition, and thought "this is live theater." There's nothing like it.

Evhead's title for his lament about what happens when your dotcom runs out of money reminded me of when Hewlett-Packard exited the HD manufacturing business, and other companies' recruiters flocked to Boise in 1996. Seagate ran a big ad, with the headline "Then There Was One." Really bad taste.

Even though I use a similar weblogging service, Manila, for a weblogs site, I'm not paying for it, and I doubt I would. If I didn't already have this site...? Maybe. But the bare idea of simplifying input to something that's updated daily prompted me to write a perl script to make these monthly indexes, while I edit daily files. I don't need help editing HTML, and I prefer the editor I'm using, thank you.

As Pyra's finding out, there may not be a business model in all that.

Moody Road, cactus, sky, Adobe Cr. Canyon

The afternoon was incredible - sunny and unseasonably warm. We took the tandem up Moody Road as far as Hidden Villa, and the need for a restroom break caused us to discover the treasure of it. This picture's from an earlier ride, looking back at the Adobe Creek canyon. Today we didn't get up this high.

Big Brother at the Super Bowl. And elsewhere, no doubt.


Happy Groundhog's, St. Brigit's and Candelmas Day.

Still struggling to make my first $25 in the Amazon Associates program. My referrals led to exactly two purchases in the fourth quarter of 2000. One of them was for Atlas Shrugged. Go figure. (I can't recommend it; never wanted to read any of Rand. Reviews by non-believers aren't good.)

Maybe the referral was for "Mike," a high school student, who has a list of "Epiphanies" on Amazon. Mike sez: "A mind-blowing experience, if you can wade through its 1000 pages. Whether or not you agree with Ms. Rand, it's worth reading." (Hmm, maybe I missed the opportunity, when I was in high school.) In Mike's defense, he also has Joseph Cambell's Hero with a Thousand Faces and Frank Herbert's Dune on his short list. I can recommend both of those!


I was cleaning out some old email directories at work today, and a big one named "stock" had old investment news items I'd saved from '94 to '96. Since it was too big to go through one at a time, I went to the latest message to see if any of it would be worth saving.

From Aug. 23, 1996, a message with the subject "A Value Strategy for a Calm Market," commentary from Seth Glickenhaus, the 82-year-old chief investment officer of Glickenhaus & Co., which manages $4.1B. It was reported in the New York Times.

Q: Where is the stock market going from here?

A: People like Elaine Garnarelli are going to be dead wrong. The market is not going to have a major correction of 15 to 20%. And the optimists -- there's one fellow who said to me, "10,000 in the Dow by 2000" -- are going to be wrong, too. If you study the stock market going back 100 years, it has had huge, long intervals of going nowhere and very short intervals of incredibly sharp upswings.... I would guess the averages (sic) will be between 4,700 and, say, 6,300, something like that, for aproximately six years....

Q: What kind of advice can you give to people who are managing their own money?

A: I would say this: As amateurs, they remind me of a good golfer who challenges the local club pro. And playing even, with no handicap. Now if he's a pretty darn good golfer, he may beat him on a few holes. But in 90-odd percent of the cases, the pro will win.

One reason that people like me have thrived beyond the dreams of avarice is that we have a business where you don't need a license. Any Tom, Dick, or Harry, Mary or Jane can buy or sell a stock. It's a rare business where your competition is a group of amateurs. And we can take advantage of their lack of depth and breadth in appraising the market.

So my advice to these people is that they should find a very good money manager.

I did look over the 5 stocks he recommended (bait for the foolhardy amateurs?), and noted that one of them -- Chrysler -- had proven to be a fine choice. The others had their moments, some of them...

I deleted the file without looking further.

Is it my imagination, or are there a lot of stocks whose charts look pretty much like the Nasdaq bubble? Infospace and Webvan are two. Agilent Technologies is another, even though it's hardly a dot-commer. Just swept up in the tide.

7.5 cubic miles of ice seems like a lot; that's how much has been lost from the West Antarctica Ice Sheet. But that's just one millionth of the ice on Antarctica! Nevertheless, our planet is clearly getting warmer. The New York Times reports on an article appearing in the journal Science.

17 days in a row with Stage 3 power alerts, and the California Legislature acts. Some folks can't let go of the nice, low rates they used to know, but there probably is no way back. Brokers of political and economic power think "deregulation" is a good thing, and there is some serious money to be made in that business. Guess who gets to provide it?

It seems so obvious that electric power should be closely regulated by the government; will anyone stand up and stay so? California is trying to control things, without actually going back to regulation. Doesn't seem like that will work, although maybe it'll suffice until a bunch of new power plants can be built, and we're faced with bailing out suppliers who can't make a profit because of oversupply.

Gail Collins describes the "deregulation" process that got us here in stark terms, including the big money part: "Parent companies give the money (from selling off the power plants) to their stockholders or find some other irretrievable place to stash it."

On the Federal side, Paul Krugman's Smog and Mirrors suggests that "anti-environmentalism could become a goal in itself." Lovely.


Tom von Alten      tva_∂t_fortboise_⋅_org


Thursday, 08-Mar-2001 20:15:50 MST