Saturday, June 30, 2012
Today I would pass the FAA flight test to become a multi-engine rated private pilot. This would permit me to carry passengers in aircraft with more than one engine that weighed less than 12,500 pounds.
Thursday, June 28, 2012
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
MICHAEL LEWIS: Successful People Like Me Were Actually Just Really Lucky
Michael Lewis says that he's really, really lucky.
He graduated from Princeton University with a degree in art history and soon after enrolled in graduate school at the London School of Economics.
Lewis eventually landed a job on Wall Street at Salomon Brothers and would later become a very famous, award-winning author ("Liar's Poker," "The Blind Side" and "Moneyball").
However, during his remarks at Princeton's Baccalaureate he said that all his fame and fortune are a matter of luck and the same goes for other successful people.
These are two of his key points.
- He said that success is "always rationalized" because successful people don't want to acknowledge that they were actually just really lucky. What's more is, the world doesn't want to realize that either.
- Lewis told the Princeton graduates that if they are successful then they should recognize that they also were very lucky. That said, "You owe a debt, not just to your Gods. You owe a debt to the unlucky."
Here's his speech he gave. [via Princeton University]
"Don't Eat Fortune's Cookie"
June 3, 2012 — As Prepared
June 3, 2012 — As Prepared
Thank you. President Tilghman. Trustees and Friends. Parents of the Class of 2012. Above all, Members of the Princeton Class of 2012. Give yourself a round of applause. The next time you look around a church and see everyone dressed in black it'll be awkward to cheer. Enjoy the moment.
Thirty years ago I sat where you sat. I must have listened to some older person share his life experience. But I don't remember a word of it. I can't even tell you who spoke. What I do remember, vividly, is graduation. I'm told you're meant to be excited, perhaps even relieved, and maybe all of you are. I wasn't. I was totally outraged. Here I’d gone and given them four of the best years of my life and this is how they thanked me for it. By kicking me out.
At that moment I was sure of only one thing: I was of no possible economic to the outside world. I'd majored in art history, for a start. Even then this was regarded as an act of insanity. I was almost certainly less prepared for the marketplace than most of you. Yet somehow I have wound up rich and famous. Well, sort of. I'm going to explain, briefly, how that happened. I want you to understand just how mysterious careers can be, before you go out and have one yourself.
I graduated from Princeton without ever having published a word of anything, anywhere. I didn't write for the Prince, or for anyone else. But at Princeton, studying art history, I felt the first twinge of literary ambition. It happened while working on my senior thesis. My adviser was a truly gifted professor, an archaeologist named William Childs. The thesis tried to explain how the Italian sculptor Donatello used Greek and Roman sculpture — which is actually totally beside the point, but I've always wanted to tell someone. God knows what Professor Childs actually thought of it, but he helped me to become engrossed. More than engrossed: obsessed. When I handed it in I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life: to write senior theses. Or, to put it differently: to write books.
Then I went to my thesis defense. It was just a few yards from here, in McCormick Hall. I listened and waited for Professor Childs to say how well written my thesis was. He didn't. And so after about 45 minutes I finally said, "So. What did you think of the writing?"
"Put it this way" he said. "Never try to make a living at it."
And I didn't — not really. I did what everyone does who has no idea what to do with themselves: I went to graduate school. I wrote at nights, without much effect, mainly because I hadn't the first clue what I should write about. One night I was invited to a dinner, where I sat next to the wife of a big shot at a giant Wall Street investment bank, called Salomon Brothers. She more or less forced her husband to give me a job. I knew next to nothing about Salomon Brothers. But Salomon Brothers happened to be where Wall Street was being reinvented—into the place we have all come to know and love. When I got there I was assigned, almost arbitrarily, to the very best job in which to observe the growing madness: they turned me into the house expert on derivatives. A year and a half later Salomon Brothers was handing me a check for hundreds of thousands of to give advice about derivatives to professional investors.
Now I had something to write about: Salomon Brothers. Wall Street had become so unhinged that it was paying recent Princeton graduates who knew nothing about small fortunes to pretend to be experts about money. I'd stumbled into my next senior thesis.
I called up my father. I told him I was going to quit this job that now promised me millions of dollars to write a book for an advance of 40 grand. There was a long pause on the other end of the line. "You might just want to think about that," he said.
"Stay at Salomon Brothers 10 years, make your fortune, and then write your books," he said.
I didn't need to think about it. I knew what intellectual passion felt like — because I'd felt it here, at Princeton — and I wanted to feel it again. I was 26 years old. Had I waited until I was 36, I would never have done it. I would have forgotten the feeling.
The book I wrote was called "Liar’s Poker." It sold a million copies. I was 28 years old. I had a career, a little fame, a small fortune and a new life narrative. All of a sudden people were telling me I was born to be a writer. This was absurd. Even I could see there was another, truer narrative, with luck as its theme. What were the odds of being seated at that dinner next to that Salomon Brothers lady? Of landing inside the best Wall Street firm from which to write the story of an age? Of landing in the seat with the best view of the business? Of having parents who didn't disinherit me but instead sighed and said "do it if you must?" Of having had that sense of must kindled inside me by a professor of art history at Princeton? Of having been let into Princeton in the first place?
This isn't just false humility. It's false humility with a point. My case illustrates how success is always rationalized. People really don’t like to hear success explained away as luck — especially successful people. As they age, and succeed, people feel their success was somehow inevitable. They don't want to acknowledge the role played by accident in their lives. There is a reason for this: the world does not want to acknowledge it either.
I wrote a book about this, called "Moneyball." It was ostensibly about baseball but was in fact about something else. There are poor teams and rich teams in professional baseball, and they spend radically different sums of money on their players. When I wrote my book the richest team in professional baseball, the New York Yankees, was then spending about $120 million on its 25 players. The poorest team, the Oakland A's, was spending about $30 million. And yet the Oakland team was winning as many games as the Yankees — and more than all the other richer teams.
This isn't supposed to happen. In theory, the rich teams should buy the best players and win all the time. But the Oakland team had figured something out: the rich teams didn't really understand who the best baseball players were. The players were misvalued. And the biggest single reason they were misvalued was that the experts did not pay sufficient attention to the role of luck in baseball success. Players got given credit for things they did that depended on the performance of others: pitchers got paid for winning games, hitters got paid for knocking in runners on base. Players got blamed and credited for events beyond their control. Where balls that got hit happened to land on the field, for example.
Forget baseball, forget sports. Here you had these corporate employees, paid millions of dollars a year. They were doing exactly the same job that people in their business had been doing forever. In front of millions of people, who evaluate their every move. They had statistics attached to everything they did. And yet they were misvalued — because the wider world was blind to their luck.
This had been going on for a century. Right under all of our noses. And no one noticed — until it paid a poor team so well to notice that they could not afford not to notice. And you have to ask: if a professional athlete paid millions of dollars can be misvalued who can't be? If the supposedly pure meritocracy of professional sports can't distinguish between lucky and good, who can?
The "Moneyball" story has practical implications. If you use better data, you can find better values; there are always market inefficiencies to exploit, and so on. But it has a broader and less practical message: don't be deceived by life's outcomes. Life's outcomes, while not entirely random, have a huge amount of luck baked into them. Above all, recognize that if you have had success, you have also had luck — and with luck comes obligation. You owe a debt, and not just to your Gods. You owe a debt to the unlucky.
I make this point because — along with this speech — it is something that will be easy for you to forget.
I now live in Berkeley, California. A few years ago, just a few blocks from my home, a pair of researchers in the Cal psychology department staged an experiment. They began by grabbing students, as lab rats. Then they broke the students into teams, segregated by sex. Three men, or three women, per team. Then they put these teams of three into a room, and arbitrarily assigned one of the three to act as leader. Then they gave them some complicated moral problem to solve: say what should be done about academic cheating, or how to regulate drinking on campus.
Exactly 30 minutes into the problem-solving the researchers interrupted each group. They entered the room bearing a plate of cookies. Four cookies. The team consisted of three people, but there were these four cookies. Every team member obviously got one cookie, but that left a fourth cookie, just sitting there. It should have been awkward. But it wasn't. With incredible consistency the person arbitrarily appointed leader of the group grabbed the fourth cookie, and ate it. Not only ate it, but ate it with gusto: lips smacking, mouth open, drool at the corners of their mouths. In the end all that was left of the extra cookie were crumbs on the leader's shirt.
This leader had performed no special task. He had no special virtue. He'd been chosen at random, 30 minutes earlier. His status was nothing but luck. But it still left him with the sense that the cookie should be his.
This experiment helps to explain Wall Street bonuses and CEO pay, and I'm sure lots of other human behavior. But it also is relevant to new graduates of Princeton University. In a general sort of way you have been appointed the leader of the group. Your appointment may not be entirely arbitrary. But you must sense its arbitrary aspect: you are the lucky few. Lucky in your parents, lucky in your country, lucky that a place like Princeton exists that can take in lucky people, introduce them to other lucky people, and increase their chances of becoming even luckier. Lucky that you live in the richest society the world has ever seen, in a time when no one actually expects you to sacrifice your interests to anything.
All of you have been faced with the extra cookie. All of you will be faced with many more of them. In time you will find it easy to assume that you deserve the extra cookie. For all I know, you may. But you'll be happier, and the world will be better off, if you at least pretend that you don't.
Never forget: In the nation's service. In the service of all nations.
And good luck.
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/michael-lewis-princeton-commencement-remarks-2012-6#ixzz1yuiTLSgt
Posted by firesprinklers at 8:42 AM
Sunday, June 24, 2012
Thursday, June 21, 2012
June 21, 2012 12:00 PM ET
Brian Wilson turned 70 yesterday, but he's busier than ever. He's currently zig-zagging across the country on the reunited Beach Boys' world tour, and the band just released their first album in two decades. So how does Wilson feel about turning 70?
"Are you kidding?" he tells Rolling Stone. "I feel great! I don't think I look or act 70. I feel more like I'm in my mid-forties."
Wilson celebrated with a party backstage during a tour stop at Montreal's Bell Centre, where he was gifted with a cake resembling the album cover to the Beach Boys' new LP, That's Why God Made The Radio. As the audience broke into "Happy Birthday," balloons sent by Wilson's wife surrounded him onstage. Earlier that day, Wilson received a call from his old buddy Paul McCartney, who celebrated his own 70th birthday two days earlier. "[Paul] said, 'Happy birthday, friend!" Wilson says. "I said, 'Happy birthday to you, Paul.' He told me he was headed into Abbey Road. I told him we were on our way to Montreal. I think he said something like, 'Can you believe we made it this far?' It was very pleasant and sweet.'
McCartney once said that the Beach Boys' "God Only Knows" is his favorite song of all time. "It's very deep, very emotional, always a bit of a choker for me, that one," he said.
The Beach Boys will tour the U.S. through mid-July – they hit New York's Jones Beach on Sunday – before heading overseas, then wrapping on September 28th in London. "It's been getting better as it goes along," Wilson says. "We needed a lot of practice!"
Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/the-beach-boys-brian-wilson-i-dont-think-i-look-or-act-70-20120621#ixzz1ySRNSLlY
Monday, June 18, 2012
Published: June 18, 2012
Joe Klamar/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
At an event here, the company showed off the device, which is about the same weight and thickness as aniPad, with a 10.6-inch screen. The tablet has a built-in “kickstand” that will allow users to prop it up for watching movies, and a detachable cover that will serve double duty as a keyboard.
The Surface tablet will run a variation of Windows 8, a forthcoming version of Microsoft’s flagship operating system. Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s chief executive, said the product was part of a long-running effort by Microsoft to create hardware, like computer mice, that show off innovations in its software.
“We want to give Windows 8 its own companion hardware innovations,” Mr. Ballmer said.
Microsoft did not immediately release pricing and availability information.
Microsoft’s decision to create its own tablet is a huge bet that the company needs to departfrom its regular way of doing business to get a grip on a threat to its dominance in computing.
While it has made a few hardware products over the years, including the Xbox video game console, Zune music player and computer keyboards, Microsoft is still thought of largely as a software company. In the computer business, it has for decades left the work of creating the machines that run the Windows operating system to Hewlett-Packard, Dell and others.
But the response to Apple’s iPad has considerably raised consumers’ expectations of how well hardware and software work together. That has put pressure on Microsoft to create a tighter marriage of hardware and software if it is to compete seriously with Apple’s product.
As it prepares to release a new version of its Windows operating system designed for touch-screen devices in the coming months, Microsoft can ill-afford a flop. The iPad has eaten into sales of low-end Windows laptops already, and there are growing signs that Apple’s tablet is becoming increasingly attractive to business customers, a lucrative market Microsoft has dominated for years.
Creating hardware, though, is not Microsoft’s main competency. The Zune bombed andhas been discontinued. Several years ago Microsoft had to take a charge of more than $1 billion to cover the cost of fixing defective Xboxes after making mistakes in the design of the system.
On Monday, Microsoft seemed to borrow from Apple in the way it introduced the product. The company invited the news media to the event with only a few days’ notice and maintained an unusual air of secrecy around its details, withholding even its exact location until Monday morning.
If that alone wasn’t enough to pique the interest of the tech industry, the company took the risky step of more explicitly building up expectations for the event by promising invitees a “major Microsoft announcement,” and telling them they “will not want to miss it.”
In part, the secrecy worked, sending the blogosphere into a whirlwind of speculation about what the company had planned.
Friday, June 15, 2012
Video Screen Grab (Houston Transtar / June 15, 2012)
9:57 a.m. PDT, June 15, 2012
HOUSTON, Texas -- Dramatic video shows a stranger coming to the rescue of a woman after a fiery crash near a toll booth.
The woman's car was completely engulfed in flames when a passing motorist stopped and broke a window on the car to pull her to safety.
She later described the man as her "Guardian Angel."
The woman's car was completely engulfed in flames when a passing motorist stopped and broke a window on the car to pull her to safety.
She later described the man as her "Guardian Angel."
Thursday, June 14, 2012
Published June 14, 2012
San Francisco, CA – Matt Cain became the first pitcher in the Giants' long history to twirl a perfect game, retiring all 27 Astros he faced in dominating fashion Wednesday.
Cain (8-2) recorded a career-high 14 strikeouts, matching Sandy Koufax for the most punchouts in a perfect game, while the San Francisco offense pounded out 15 hits in a 10-0 rout.
It was the 22nd perfect game in Major League history and second this year. The White Sox's Philip Humber accomplished the feat on April 21 against the Mariners.
The Giants now have 14 no-hitters in their history -- six since moving to San Francisco. Jonathan Sanchez was the last to do so on July 10, 2009 against the Padres.
Cain threw 125 pitches in the masterpiece and was backed by quality defense, along with a plethora of offense, along the way.
Gregor Blanco went 2-for-5 with a home run and three RBI, but will most be remembered for a sensational diving catch along the warning track in right- center in the seventh inning.
"I don't know how [Blanco] caught that ball," Giants manager Bruce Bochy simply stated.
Brandon Belt also had two hits, a home run and drove in three, while Pablo Sandoval went 3-for-4 while knocking in a pair for the victors.
San Francisco's season-high output was obviously overshadowed by Cain, who now has 15 career complete games and six shutouts but was never more perfect than he was Wednesday.
"First time through the lineup, I felt like I had good stuff and was able to locate the ball where I wanted to," Cain said at the postgame press conference with an ice pack on his right shoulder. "I felt like something could happen."
Jordan Schafer had Houston's best chance at reaching base early on, but his ground ball leading off the fourth barely bounced foul by the first-base bag.
Shafer later struck out, and the Astros' next quality swing came with one out in the sixth when Chris Snyder smoked a ball to left field that nearly cleared the fence. But Melky Cabrera, who also hit a two-run homer, caught it just in front of the Budweiser decal on the wall to keep the perfect game in tact.
Blanco's grab in the seventh one-upped Cabrera's, as he tracked down Schafer's gapper to right with a dead sprint and timed his dive perfectly in front of the warning track. Before he hit the ground, the ball landed at the top of his glove, and he held on as he slid toward the wall.
"The coaches told me to play a little more towards the gap," Blanco recalled. "I was aware what was going on, and I said to myself I have to catch it."
Cain, who signed the richest contract for a right-hander pitcher in MLB history earlier this year, ran the count full to Jed Lowrie two batters later, but came through with a strikeout to end the inning.
After throwing 103 pitches through seven frames, Cain needed just 11 to get through the eighth, then induced a pair of flyouts to left to open the ninth.
Jason Castro was Cain's final victim, and the pinch-hitter's inside-out swing nearly handcuffed Joaquin Arias at third. Arias backpedaled near the outfield cutout and double-clutched before firing a perfect strike to Belt at first, sending the AT&T crowd into a frenzy.
Cain was mobbed by his teammates at the mound and was treated to a beer bath as he made his way to the clubhouse.
J.A. Happ (4-7) was on the opposite end of the spectrum from Cain, lasting just 3 1/3 innings and surrendering eight runs on 11 hits en route to his fourth straight losing start.
Cabrera made it 2-0 with a home run in the first inning, and Belt added a two- run shot of his own to straightaway center in the second.
Arias doubled and scored on a Blanco groundout later in the second, and the Giants tacked on two more on RBI singles by Sandoval and Belt in the third.
Happ was mercifully pulled with the bases loaded in the fourth, and Rhiner Cruz limited the damage to Sandoval's run-scoring fielder's choice.
Blanco tacked on a moonshot, two-run blast to right field in the fifth.
Cain singled prior to the blast, something none of the Astros could say they did against him.
Cain, who was 1-3 with a 4.69 ERA in seven previous appearances against the Astros, has won a career-high tying seven straight starts and lowered his ERA to 2.18. He has 10 career double-digit strikeout games...The Astros were no- hit for the fifth time...This is the second time in three years there have been two perfect games in the same season. The only other time that happened was 1880...There have been five no-hitters in the majors already this year...Koufax fanned 14 Cubs in his perfect game on September 9th, 1965...Belt has gone deep in two straight games after going homerless in his first 49...The Giants are 14-6 after left-handed starters this season...San Francisco goes for the three-game series sweep on Thursday with Barry Zito toeing the rubber opposite Wandy Rodriguez.
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/sports/2012/06/14/cain-tosses-first-perfect-game-in-giants-history/#ixzz1xpF8iGCN