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Generic Confusion

When you leave, my blog just fades to grey
Nu ma nu ma iei, nu ma nu ma nu ma iei

News? Check. Politics? Check. Music? Check. Random thoughts about life? Check. Readership? Ummm.... let me get back to you on that. Updated when I feel like I have something to say, and remember to post it.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A date with a World Champion

Over at Gizmodo, intern Alyssa Bereznak wrote about a date arranged online over OKCupid. It turns out this date was with Jon Finkel, one time world champion player of Magic: the Gathering, Hall of Famer, immortalized on a Magic card, and widely acknowledged as one of the best players of the game, ever. She apparently didn't like that this history wasn't a major part of his profile, even though *GASP* he still plays the game, and is still friends with fellow players.

I won't link to her post, as there's suspicion that she gets paid per link or hit, so I've linked instead to a Reddit thread where Jon Finkel answers questions on the issue (an Ask Me Anything thread).

Now, I'm not sure what would inspire a person to discuss a person, by name, in an article like this. It seems petty and vindictive. She would have known his history by just Googling him. Ironically, it is Alyssa who will forever be marked as damaged goods through the power of Google.

I haven't done online dating, but I doubt I'd put "player of D&D and M:tG" in any profile. Maybe "enjoys games," which suggests a wider variety of interests I may share with a woman. As I mentioned before, I cover.

It looks like my comment on the original article wasn't posted, so I'll put it here.

So your objection is he participates in a harmless intellectual hobby that you don't, and he has friends that aren't yours? You sound like a real catch for an independent man.

Were I in a long term relationship with a woman who didn't share my own geek interests and my old friends, I would expect to spend less time on them, and even less time were I to have children. However, I would not expect to spend no time on them. Nor would I expect her to spend no time on her old hobbies and old friends. Let's be honest, were the setup a man telling his wife or girlfriend that she can't see her old friends now that they're together, the Dear Abby advice would be "That sounds like an abusive relationship. Get out."

Update: Over Labor Day weekend, Jon Finkel won $4000 in that Magic tournament he was preparing for. What did Alyssa do?

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Could Hit the U.S.

Ah, the high quality of the Huffington AOLpost. The caption on the video screenshot says "Hurricane Irene slams Puerto Rico; Could Hit US."

It already hit the U.S.

At least the headline got it right: "U.S. Mainland".

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair

Strong winds last night toppled the stage rigging at the grandstand of the Indiana State Fair, right between the performance of opening act Sara Bareilles and headlining act Sugarland. There have been five deaths so far, and the State Fair is canceled today.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Company Store redux

Previously, I commented on the savings the Kaukauna school district had attained by getting insurance outside the WEA Trust. I suspected at the time that it was always overpriced, not just for this one year. And a later column by Byron York confirms it.

The problem for Hartland-Lakeside was that WEA Trust was charging significantly higher rates than the school district could find on the open market. School officials knew that because they got a better deal from United HealthCare for coverage of nonunion employees. On more than one occasion, Superintendent Glenn Schilling asked WEA Trust why the rates were so high. "I could never get a definitive answer on that," says Schilling.

Changing to a different insurance company would save Hartland-Lakeside hundreds of thousands of dollars that could be spent on key educational priorities -- especially important since the cash-strapped state government was cutting back on education funding. But teachers union officials wouldn't allow it; the WEA Trust requirement was in the contract, and union leaders refused to let Hartland-Lakeside off the hook.

That's where Wisconsin's new budget law came in. The law, bitterly opposed by organized labor in the state and across the nation, limits the collective bargaining powers of some public employees. And it just happens that the Hartland-Lakeside teachers' collective bargaining agreement expired on June 30. So now, freed from the expensive WEA Trust deal, the school district has changed insurers.

"It's going to save us about $690,000 in 2011-2012," says Schilling. Insurance costs that had been about $2.5 million a year will now be around $1.8 million. What union leaders said would be a catastrophe will in fact be a boon to teachers and students.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Standard & Poor's downgrade: Think about this

They have the authority they do because the government says so.

The one thing the US could do to punish Standard & Poor's is to no longer allow their ratings to have any regulatory value. If a company has to have assets of a certain quality, the judgment of S&P is no longer valid in determining whether or not you meet that requirement. (I have no idea on the legality of that, or whether or not it's a good idea.)

But think about this: In a free market, S&P should have gone out of business, since they so badly handled ratings of collateralized mortgage obligations. They gave a AAA rating to something that collapsed in value and security with a housing market downturn. They gave these ratings despite widespread thought that we were in a housing bubble. They didn't do one single sensitivity test?

Without the official recognition of government being involved, a competitor could have arisen, promising a more robust model for complex securities like CMOs. Instead, there's a practically insurmountable barrier to entry.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Last Friday Night

Katy Perry has four #1 singles off her current album: California Gurls, Teenage Dream, Firework, and E.T. If current single Last Friday Night can rise from #2 to #1, she will tie Michael Jackson's record for most #1 singles off an album. That was a record I never thought would be equaled.

And if you haven't seen it, the video is hilarious. Look at the cameos: Debbie Gibson, Corey Feldman, Kenny G, Hanson, Rebecca Black, and two of the actors from Glee.