I'll probably knock off about 3 today and spend the rest of the day with the Unknown Family. After all, it is New Year's Eve Tonight.
On that note, here's hoping you all a safe, happy, and prosperous New Year.
We did the family visit thing as usual this year, with Christmas Eve at my sister's house and Christmas Day at The Unknown Wife's family. They live in an adjoining state, but it's only about 2 hours away, so we did the day trip thing (and slept in our own beds).
Luckily, we got back before the snow started. Given my aging back (a legacy from my father, apparently), I prefer to shovel lighter amounts of snow multiple times rather than do one large one after it's over. So, I was in and out all day yesterday (about 3 times all together). Then I finished it off today. I love being in New England, but it has its costs.
Tomorrow I get back to the gym. For whatever reason, this semester has turned me into a morning person. In September, I found myself waking up at 4 a.m.. The Unknown Wife works out every day from 6-7 at the Y, so I thought I'd got from 5-6 (that way I can be back in time to watch the kids. So, I've been rising at 4:30 every day and putting in about a hour workout. I'm planning on doing a lot of cycling this summer - at least one century (my first) and a handful of 50-60 milers. The first 50 miler takes place on Memorial Day weekend, so I want to be ready to roll once the roads clear up and the weather warms. I've been putting in about 45 minutes to an hour each morning at the YMCA on the stationary bike, along with some light weightlifting several times a week. Except for a few extra holiday pounds, I'm probably at the same fitness level now that I usually am in June. So, I'm optimistic.
As for now, the driveway's clear, and it's time to get back to my office to get some work done - data to crunch, papers to edit, syllabi to write, and graduate students to torture.
Unknown Daughter liked her presents (some clothes, a rock polishing kit, some games for her DS, etc...). The Unknown Baby Boy (now upgraded to the Unknown Toddler) seemed to like his presents, but being 21 months old, he probably will get as much out of playing with the boxes and paper as he will out of the presents).
As for Unknown Wife and I, we'll buy a big screen TV after the new year as our present. Yeah, that's right - "our" present.
In any event, here's hoping you all enjoy the day, and be careful on the roads - it's a surprisingly dangerous day for driving.
Dear Unknown Professor:He struggled all semester, and pulled off a B+ - proof that hard work pays off.
I just wanted to thank you again for a really great semester. You really helped me work hard in areas I didn't think I could and pushed me harder than I thought I could handle, but it overall seemed to pay off very well with my final grade. I learned a lot in your class this semester which I am hoping will help with my future finance classes since I am a Finance major.
I'll take it. Now back to research.
I have two papers I'm hoping to send to the AAA (American Accounting Association) meeting (the deadline's in 2 weeks), and a third I'm hoping to send to the FMA (Financial Management Association) meeting (the deadline's in about 3 1/2 weeks). So, I have three papers to work on (one's being sent to both conferences).
Of course, I still have to buy something shiny for the Unknown Wife.
- The Unknown Wife and I have somehow managed to stay married for over 20 years.
- I recently took an online test for empathy and scored just above folks with Aspergers and high-functioning autistics.
Having said that, I could have used one of these - I particularly like the caveman voice - kinda fits how I feel in the morning.
HT: The Ace of Spades
Here's my goal: I want to embed more Excel assignments in my class, since Finance Majors can't have too much Excel exposure. So, I'm trying to add some assignments that expose them to the following concepts (note- those in bold type have been suggested by readers)
- Data Tables
- Pivot Tables & Pivot Charts
- IF (and Nested IF) statements
- Macros and basic VBA
- Solver and Goal Seek
- Regression Analysis
- Conditional Formatting
- Using some of the auditing tools
- Keyboard shortcuts
Some of the projects they might be doing could include (note: I might not get to all of this, but it's good to have aspirations):
- Building pro-forma statement-driven cash flow valuation models
- Profiling industry ratios (taken from Compustat) using Pivot Tables
- Calculating "justified" price multiples using regressions of multiples on industry fundamentals
- Estimating betas
- Calculating a variance-covariance matrix
- Calculating portfolio weights that yield efficient frontiers using solver (and possibly, some basic VBA)
- Calculating tracking error
- Performance attribution
- Technical analysis/indicators (i.e. moving averages, etc...)
- Describing statistical properties (skewness, kurtosis, etc...) of return distributions
- An event study
So, here's what I'm looking for - can you suggest any additions to the list as far as Excel topics they should cover or projects I can assign? We cover only the equity side of things (no derivatives or fixed income, since they get those in other classes).
Please sound off in the comments.
And it looks like my students performed at both ends of the spectrum, too.
Running the student-managed fund class is always a great gig - it's small (about 10-12) and invariably composed of the best students in the college. They just gave their end-of-the semester presentation to a group of about 30 attendees (including a number of portfolio managers, analysts, and assorted other finance professionals). They probably did as good a job as any group I've seen to date. They were relaxed, professional, very competent, and they looked good in their suits and ties. They did a great job of explaining how they managed the fund and more importantly, why. There were a couple of attendees that made them peel back the curtain on what assumptions they used in their discounted cash flow analyses, and they acquitted themselves very well. In fact, there's a good possibility that one of them may landed an interview with a mutual fund company as a result of his performance (he got pushed pretty hard by a couple of the attendees, and did a great job defending himself). So, all in all, it was an excellent showing.
On the other hand (and after all, I've had a lot of econ training, so there's always another hand), my core finance class didn't do nearly as well on this last exam as they did on the second one. Some of it is probably the material (their math skills are more than a bit lacking, and this section requires more mathematical reasoning), but a lot of it seems like they simply hadn't done the necessary work solving problems. Still, there were some pretty good performances. Overall, it's a bit depressing, but it's given me some food for thought as to how I can approach the material in this section differently the next time I teach it.
Ah well - you win some and you lose some.
HT: Ace of Spades
For obvious reasons, it stuck with me. So, I tracked it down and found this YouTube video by Matthew West. Caution - it will most likely bring tears to your eyes, so be warned.
And if you're looking for a place to contribute to, this would be a good one. So open your checkbooks and spread a little cheer.
Many of you have heard of the Turducken (a dish consisting of a de-boned chicken stuffed into a de-boned duck, which itself is stuffed into a de-boned turkey).
But these folks have gone several steps better - the TurBacon Epic: a 20lb pig stuffed with a 8lb turkey, a 6lb duck, a 4lb chicken, a cornish hen, a quail, bacon croissant stuffing, and 10 lbs of bacon wrapped around all the layers. It's "only 79,046 calories and roughly 6,900 grams of food coma inducing fat.
To quote Yakov Smirnoff, "What a Country!"
In case you don't want to view the whole thing at one sitting (it's a bout 90 minutes), the video is organized as follows (I reference the numbers in the Table of Contents):
- Sections 1-13 (roughly from the beginning to 38 minutes in - the "math" risk and return (Expected Returns, Standard Deviation, Covariance, and Correlation)
- Sections 14-25 (from minutes 38 to 75): Markowitz Portfolio Theory and the Capital Market Line
- Sections 26-32 (Minutes 75 to the end): Systematic and Unsystematic Risk, The CAPM and the Security Market Line
Instead, I told the students that I'd put up a video with the lectures for the week on Risk and Return. Once it's done, I'll post a link here. I'm pretty happy with it - it runs the gamut of topics from the calculations for standard deviation, covariance, expected returns, etc... to Markowitz Portfolio Theory and the Capital Market Line to the CAPM and the Security Market Line.
Although I don't use all this material in my intro class, I expect to use it in my investments class this spring. So, this should allow me to go a bit faster and cover more material there.
Unfortunately, I have to wait another hour before the video software is done rendering the final version and I can go home. Then it's off the the Unknown In-Laws house tomorrow for turkey overload and football.
Here's wishing you all a Happy and safe Thanksgiving
Tow researchers (Ithai Stern at Northwestern University and James Westphal at the University of Michigan) recently published a study in Administrative Science Quarterly titled "Stealthy Footsteps to the Boardroom: Executives’ Backgrounds, Sophisticated Interpersonal Infl uence
Behavior, and Board Appointments (here's an ungated copy). They lay out several effective ways of "kissing up" to the boss:
- Go with discomfort: Preface compliments to the boss with something like "I don't want to embarrass you, but..."
- Frame it in question form: Ask for advice - it's just as flattering as a compliment. goes down a lot easier
- Bait and switch: Start out by disagreeing with the boss and then gradually warm to their opinion. Instead of being a "Yes Man", be a "'No,' then 'Yes'" man).
- Go around the corner: Find a third-party (best if it's a close confidant of the boss), and talk admiringly about the boss. Odds are, it will get passed on.
- Look for common ground: Pick a topic (anything from parenting to religion to politics) and make unsolicited statements and opinions about the matter that you think are also held by your target. Positive impressions will lower the red-flags on future praise.
- Look for common groups: Bring up social affiliations that you may have in common.
Now take off you D**n shoes!
Unfortunately, there's a flip side to that coin - we can easily find variables (or specifications) that seem to "predict" returns (or just about anything). In reality, we're often just overfitting the data.
Here's a pretty good piece on the topic titled "Yo Momma is a Data Miner", by David Leinwebber in which he fits a polynomial time-series regression to the S&P 500 with surprising (if you don;t follow what he's doing) good results - particularly since he's using things like the sheep population and Bangladesh Butter production as regressors.
But I didn't know that he also has a blog - Musings on Markets. Just a quick glance over the last couple of months gave me several good articles to read:
High Dividend Stocks: Do They Beat the Market?He doesn't update regularly (but who am I to talk). In any event, check it out.
Capital Structure: Optimal or Opportunistic?
What if Nothing is Risk Free?
HT: Finance Clippings
IT WAS A ROOKIE ERROR. AFTER 10 YEARS I SHOULD HAVE known better, but I went to my office the day after final grades were posted. There was a tentative knock on the door.
""Professor Wiesenfeld? I took your Physics 2121 class? I flunked it? I wonder if there's anything I can do to improve my grade?'' I thought: ""Why are you asking me? Isn't it too late to worry about it? Do you dislike making declarative statements?''
...Time was, when you received a grade, that was it. You might groan and moan, but you accepted it as the outcome of your efforts or lack thereof (and, yes, sometimes a tough grader). In the last few years, however, some students have developed a disgruntled-consumer approach. If they don't like their grade, they go to the ""return'' counter to trade it in for something better.
What alarms me is their indifference toward grades as an indication of personal effort and performance. Many, when pressed about why they think they deserve a better grade, admit they don't deserve one but would like one anyway. Having been raised on gold stars for effort and smiley faces for self-esteem, they've learned that they can get by without hard work and real talent if they can talk the professor into giving them a break.
Read the whole thing here - it'll be part of my next semester's syllabus.
I wasn't suffering alone. Many of my co-workers already had active side businesses and ambitious expansion plans. The guy in the cubicle behind me was running a concert equipment rental business. Across from me was a guy running a computer tech support business. We had Amway dealers, Mary Kay sales people, inventors, authors and just about any other business you can imagine. That's not counting all of the business plans in the incubation phase. I think we all understood that working in a cubicle and being managed by Satan's learning-challenged little brother was not a recipe for happiness.
Read the whole thing here. - it's good for a laugh (and it makes a lot of good points, too).
But this semester took the grand prize. The 80/20 rule says that 20% of your students cause 80% of your problems. That would be true this semester if you counted ONE student alone as my 80%. She (we'll call her Brittany henceforth) is to put it succinctly, a bit of a Princess - high maintenance, dressed entirely in designer clothes, vocal, bossy to her friends, and simply not doing well in the class. BP informed me two weeks into the class that she's taking 18 (or is it 20) credits this semester because she needs to graduate this spring. So she "really really really needs to pass this class." She constantly whines in class about the workload because she has soooo much on her plate, and complains about any thing that doesn't pass her standards (by which she means, anything that she doesn't understand easily). And nothing is ever her fault.
Her first exam grad was a 55. The most recent exam (the second of four) was a 58. The rest of the class seems to be getting it -- in fact, as I recently posted, the class average was one of the highest I've seen on this exam in about ten years of teaching. The class has really respodned to the challenge - they've not only stepped up their game, they seem to have realized that complaining to me about the workload is like trying to teach a pig how to sing (i.e. they expend effort, accomplish nothing, and both they and the pig (that's me) get annoyed). Except for Brittany the Princess - she's used to getting her way with whining and intimidation, so she keeps trying.
After she got her exam back, (it was handed back Monday - the drop deadline for the class), she came to my office wondering if she should stay or drop. She wanted assurances that if she was "close", I'd give her the minimum passing grade (since it's required, all she needs is a D-). Unfortunately, I couldn't give her any such assurances - I said that I often make the cutoff for the various grades somewhat lower than what's in the syllabus, but that's done on a case by case basis after looking at the overall class performance, and that whether or not she should stay in the class is a decision that only she could make. So far, there's nothing new to the story - pretty much standard stuff we've all seen many times.
Then the fun started.
BP goes out into the hall and starts sobbing and wailing. That's right, wailing. You could hear her almost on the other side of the building. Of course, I stay safely in my office - there's no way on God's Green Earth I'm going out to deal with that, because there are (like Bear Bryant said about passing the football) only a few things that can happen, and most of them are bad. Luckily, one of the female staff from one of our institutes came out and said "honey, why don't you go into that empty classroom so that you'll have some privacy" (read: "so that you won't be such a spectacle"). The staff worker said that she figured that the student in question was used to using the "cry out loud and maybe you'll get what you want" card. Shortly thereafter, several of her classmates (the ones who she hangs with) came in to my office and said "don't worry about Brittany, UP - she'll be fine. She does this to get attention and to see if she can get you to give her what she wants).
Unfortunately for my blood pressure, she decided not to drop the class.
Ah well - another day in academia. At least I'll have more Brittany stories to share as the semester progresses.
This semester, I made a conscious decision to really push my students - since the first week of September, they've two exams, three very involved problem sets (with a lot of curves thrown in - the typical one takes about 3-5 hours to complete), eight online quizzes, and short pop quizzes (they typically last 5 minutes or less and contain 1 or 2 basic questions on the material to be covered for the day's class) on average every other day, and almost constant cold-calling in class (in a 50 minute class, I typically call on 15-20 students). I like to think that I've set the bar at a far higher level than the other sections of the intro class being taught this semester. In fact, some of my students have told me that I've brought the class together - they're getting together in study groups of as many as 10 at a time (and there was supposedly a study group the night before the first exam of almost twenty students).
I've also made a decision to teach in full-blown crazy mode. Those who've heard my bloviations over the years know that I'm a flaming extrovert that tends toward (in my better moments) impressions of Ahnuld (I Am The Denominator!), Mister Rogers, Kermit The Frog, Inigo Montoya, and various characters from the Simpsons, South Park, and Monty Python, often in rapid succession. The last few years, the Unknown Son's illness had really taken a toll on my zest for teaching (and it showed in my evaluations). While he passed away almost 18 months ago, it's only been this semester that I've really felt like the "old" me. So, teaching has been a real pleasure.
Well, my class just had their second exam, and to put it bluntly, they did more damage to the exam than the Republicans did to the Democrats in the last election - they knocked it out of the park. There was the usual variation in grades, of course (one student got a 23 - It's never when your grade approximates your age), but on the whole they performed better than any comparable class I can remember going back to the late 1990's.
So, there is hope. It's nice to see that when you set the bar high (and meet the students more than halfway), they respond to the challenge.
So imagine my enjoyment at finding out there's a repository of Pratchett quotes titled the Pratchett Quote File (you can also get it in a test file here). Here's one that struck home (note that the Unknown Wife and I just celebrated our 20th anniversary):
Sam Vimes could parallel process. Most husbands can. They learn to followUnfortunately, skimming through the quote file just burned an hour and a half of my time. I guess I really don't want to start grading the 70 exams currently sitting on my desk (each of which has 10 pages of work in it). Unfortunately, I just gave the exam tonight, and I want to give them back on Wednesday (it's the drop date for the semester).
their own line of thought while at the same time listening to what their
wives say. And the listening is important, because at any time they could
be challenged and must be ready to quote the last sentence in full. A vital
additional skill is being able to scan the dialogue for telltale phrases
such as "and they can deliver it tomorrow" or "so I've invited them for
dinner?" or "they can do it in blue, really quite cheaply."
-- (Terry Pratchett, The Fifth Elephant)
HT: Vox Popoli
This semester, I'm teaching the undergraduate core finance. I plan on making a series of videos on the main topics that I can then use in upper-level courses. That way, I can eliminate the need to take valuable class time for going over prior material. Instead, if the students feel the need for a review on (for example) Effective Annual Rates, they can simply watch the video. Eventually, I hope to have a library of videos on many of the major topics we cover in the intro course.
Here's the first one - on the basics of Time Value. This one covers problems and concepts related to Present/Future Values of single lump sums. If you find it helpful, let me know.
You can see my other videos at the following site - the BUS424 folder contains a number of lectures I made for my Fixed Income class. Feel free to use and share them.
Recently they had a weekend get together where they had a numbr of speakers (and some kick-hiney food). One of the speakers was Walter Wanegrin, who wrote a book called The Book of The Dun Cow, a very powerful story where the protagonists are all animals fighting against Wyrm, the source of all evil in their world. It's insightful, thought provoking, and funny.
One of the bloggers expressed how inadequate he felt felt discussing literature wit Wanegrin (note: this came from the blogger - by all indications, Wanegrin is an estremely humble and engaging fellow). Anyway, here's the quote:
I felt a thousand things as he spoke, which I feel incapable of putting into adequate words. I feel like a clever monkey trying to explain to Beethoven (who is deaf and dead) the joys of flinging poo.Every once in a while, you hear a phrase that just sticks with you. I think this one qualifies, and I've been there.
Now I have some evidence backing him up.
Here's a pretty interesting piece on the market effects of internet stock spam spam. A couple of years ago, Well, Frieder and Zittrain did a study titled Spam Works: Evidence from Stock Touts and Corresponding Market Activity. They found that on spammers "touting" (i.e. pushing) a stock has some pretty significant effects on the touted stock's price and trading volume. Here's the abstract (emphasis mine):
We assess the impact of spam that touts stocks upon the trading activity of those stocks and sketch how profitable such spamming might be for spammers and how harmful it is to those who heed advice in stock-touting e-mails. We find convincing evidence that stock prices are being manipulated through spam. We suggest that the effectiveness of spammed stock touting calls into question prevailing models of securities regulation that rely principally on the proper labeling of information and disclosure of conflicts of interest as means of protecting consumers, and we propose several regulatory and industry interventions.
Based on a large sample of touted stocks listed on the Pink Sheets quotation system and a large sample of spam emails touting stocks, we find that stocks experience a significantly positive return on days prior to heavy touting via spam. Volume of trading responds positively and significantly to heavy touting. For a stock that is touted at some point during our sample period, the probability of it being the most actively traded stock in our sample jumps from 4% on a day when there is no touting activity to 70% on a day when there is touting activity. Returns in the days following touting are significantly negative. The evidence accords with a hypothesis that spammers "buy low and spam high," purchasing penny stocks with comparatively low liquidity, then touting them - perhaps immediately after an independently occurring upward tick in price, or after having caused the uptick themselves by engaging in preparatory purchasing - in order to increase or maintain trading activity and price enough to unload their positions at a profit. We find that prolific spamming greatly affects the trading volume of a targeted stock, drumming up buyers to prevent the spammer's initial selling from depressing the stock's price. Subsequent selling by the spammer (or others) while this buying pressure subsides results in negative returns following touting. Before brokerage fees, the average investor who buys a stock on the day it is most heavily touted and sells it 2 days after the touting ends will lose close to 5.5%. For those touted stocks with above-average levels of touting, a spammer who buys on the day before unleashing touts and sells on the day his or her touting is the heaviest, on average, will earn 4.29% before transaction costs. The underlying data and interactive charts showing price and volume changes are also made available.
HT: The Psi-Fi Blog
Of course, with a title like that, it was inevitable
While putting together my syllabus, I went looking for an appropriate quote or two (I usually stick a few in there, if only for my own amusement). I came across a perfect one for the Unknown Daughter. As I've mentioned before, she's extremely bright (I know, I'm biased). But she also hangs out with a great bunch of kids - she and her closest three girlfriends are all smart, creative, and nice. They now can have a group motto.
The quote (attributed to Mark Twain) is:
Knowledge is PowerEven better, you can buy a t-shirt with the motto at Cafe Press.
One of the problems with getting older is that things wear out. While I'm still relatively young, I've had a few irritating problems lately. One of them that's developed over the loast couple of years is a pretty nasty case of hemorrhoids (basically varicose veins in the butt). After all, I have a job where I sit down a lot. And while cycling doesn't cause them, it can aggravate existing ones.
So, last Friday, I went in for outpatient surgery. Of course, that meant that on Thursday I had to uses something like this to get all "cleaned out". For a far-too-detailed description of the "prep" process, check out Dave Barry's post here (while you're there, if you haven;t yet had a colonoscopy and you're due for one, get to it).
The actual surgery (early Friday afternoon) went fine - they gave some high quality drugs that completely knocked me out, and a shot that lasted until the late evening to numb things "down there". On the way home, we stopped at the drug store for some heavy-duty pain meds (Percocet), dropped me off at home, and then went out to pick up the kids.
Then the fun began. I spiked a fever (101.5) and by about 8:00, I was just about in the most pain of my entire life (and I've broken several bones, torn rotator cuffs, had multiple surgeries, etc...). Even on the max dose of Percocet, I thought I was going to (as my kids would say) "Start crying like a little girl".
Luckily, it didn't last long - by Saturday morning, I upgraded to as uncomfortable as hell, which was livable. And by today, I'm actually sitting up (albeit with an inflatable donut).
The only bright side is that I get to miss our all-day faculty retreat, since I can't sit for any amount of time. There's some irony there.
Hemorrhoid surgery 0r all-day faculty planning meeting? Let me think...
Every year, Beloit College publishes a "mindset" list for the incoming freshman class. It lists some of the "cultural touchstones" are a part of the class's lives (who were mostly born in 1992). Here are some of the items on this year's list that stood out:
4. Al Gore has always been animated.Read the whole thing here - interesting stuff, and it'll make some of you shake your heads at how the world has changed in such a short time.
12. Clint Eastwood is better known as a sensitive director than as Dirty Harry.
27. Computers have never lacked a CD-ROM disk drive.
53. J.R. Ewing has always been dead and gone. Hasn't he?
64. Having hundreds of cable channels but nothing to watch has always been routine.
But like one of the best business tacticians of our times says, "Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in". So I guess this is my "welcome back" post.
I just received a referee's report that made me laugh at its awesomeness. First a bit of background: I sent a paper to a lower-tier journal back in June of 2008. There was no response for over a year, so I sent several emails (and voice mails) to the editor with no response. Finally, getting fed up, back in November, I sent him an email (and follow-up voicemail) asking the editor to withdraw the paper. We subsequently got a revise and resubmit another journal.
Then today I get this from the original journal (i.e. the where I'd withdrawn the paper long ago):
RE: XXXXX and the use of XXXNote: emphasis is mine, and I only changed the relatively few words necessary to protect the guilty.
I have now received a report on your paper in which the referee makes a number of recommendations for improvement. Unfortunately I am unable to accept the paper for publication in its current form. However I would be happy to reconsider the paper if you were to revise it along the lines suggested by the referee. I look forward to your resubmission.
The reviewer's comments are given below.
Comments to the Author
This paper examines the relationship between XXX and XXX. However, Pearson correlation coefficient that this paper uses is very ordinary. And this often does not measure the non-linear relationship for variables. In addition, the paper does not make the necessary statistical test and analysis to the studying results.
Yes, that is the sum total of the referee's report. I'd always heard that the main difference between "good" journals and "weak" ones wasn't so much the mean quality of reviewer but the variance. Now I have my own data point.
Next time I will make sure to use "extraordinary" Pearson correlation coefficients and "make the necessary statistical test and analysis to the studying result".
update: I told a friend and former classmate of mine about this, and he suggested that "Outstandingly Bad Referee Reports" would make for a fun session topic at a conference- particularly if we had a journal editor select the panel members. However, he suggested that the entertainment value would be much better if you could somehow ensure that (unbeknownst to each other) both the recipients of the reports and the originators were both on the panel).
But that would be wrong. Funny, but wrong.
It the doesn't say anything new, but it does an impressive job of marshaling facts about the CDO markets - the author hand-collected a data set on over 700 CDO deals, and provides a wealth of information.
What's more, she did it within a semester's time.
HT: Marginal Revolution
Last night, after making the obligatory pass through the Oregon District (a very funky place, with everything from art galleries to martial arts dojos (practicing with katanas) to peep shows), I went to my room to work on class stuff - my students are getting a video presentation on MBS pass-throughs to watch while I'm gone.
In the meanwhile, since it's spring training season, I give you this classic but still funny piece (complete with a mention of a lesser-known greek figure about 2:17).
Unfortunately, they shave parts of the chest to make sure that the leads for the EKG have good contacts. And I am, shall we say, a bit on the hirsute side (kind of like saying Ed "Too Tall" Jones is too tall). So I came home with a few patches missing.
I took the clippers to the rest, and now I have nubs. TMI, for sure. But I'm all about the sharing.
I now have more sympathy for my wife.
Last August, the University of Chicago Magazine asked Allen Sanderson to create an NCAA-like tournament with four regions, brackets and seeded teams. But instead of a field comprised of basketball squads, this one - dubbed "Market Madness" - was to contain 16 competitive factors contributing to the global financial meltdown of the last two years. (Their only constraint was that The Chicago School of Economics had to be a competitor.)Read the whole thing here
To get started, each "team" got a name and a brief description as to why it was included in the tourney. Chicago Alumni and friends then participated in on-line voting in Autumn 2009 to select their personal or preferred outcomes for each of the match-ups, which moved from the "Sweet 16" to the "Elite 8," and then to the "Final Four" and the ultimate winner (that is, the person or thing most responsible for the financial crisis and recession).
With permission from the University of Chicago Magazine, the AEA was pleased to offer its members a chance to fill out their own brackets and submit their entries and pick an ultimate "champion." Below you will find the four named regions, the four competitors in each region, and a brief introduction to each team.
Voting is now closed, and here are the results! (click here for a larger version)
HT: Barry Barnitz
In other words, a typical guy. But lately, they've been trying to rehabilitqate him by making him eat more fruits and vegetables (he now sings " A Cookie is a Sometime Thing". Were Jonathan here, he'd agree with the unknown daughter - "Dad, that's just wrong in so many ways".
So, in Jonathan's honor, I give you what Cookie Monster says in an unguarded moment:
I still suspect some One Flew Over The Cuckoo's nest type action - look for the scars.
21 seriously funny exam answers
For some reason I found this one (#18) particularly amusing. But you can choose your own:
So now, whenever a student walks into class late, I merely stop talking in mid sentence. I then quietlty wait until the student is seated. At this point, they're usually embarrassed. I continue waiting they have their book AND pencil out. Of course, the spotlight on them makes them extremely uncomfortable. I don't ream them, don't make any faces, comments, or do anything else - merely ask "Are you ready now?" Then I take up right where I left off. It's kind of fun, and I don't have to come off like my usual sarcastic self. It seems to work pretty well - late arrivals have really dropped off this semester.
But this guy (Scott Galloway at NYU) just throws them out if they come in late. A student got the treatment recently and sent him a (to my ears) somewhat entitled email. Galloway give him an epic reaming.
Read the responses - they're classic (particularly the David Mamet references). If you have any favorite techniques for dealing with late students, feel free to share.
Of course, as they say in the ads, "your mileage may vary".
HT: Craig Newmark (who gets it)
As usual, I've been juggling a couple of projects. One is (finally) just about done - it's been going on for a couple of years now, but the end is in sight. With luck (and, more important, some discipline), it should be done in the next couple of weeks. And then it'll get sent out to the Journal of Banking and Finance (not a top-tier journal, but pretty good). Then I work on another piece that will get sent to Financial Management (about at the same level).
Meanwhile, I'm also working on an accounting piece that will be sent to the Journal of Accounting, Auditing, and Finance. SO, with a bit of luck, I should shortly have three pieces under review at pretty decent journals.
Meanwhile, in the last two weeks, I've received three papers to review, so it;s time to start working on those. It's odd - nothing for a year, and then three in a week. Ah well.
While this is going on, I've been teaching (of course). Last semester, I had three "preps" (a "prep is a unique class you must prepare for - so three preps means three separate classes), of which one was a new one. This semester, I have only two preps, and neither one is a new one. So, I've actually been getting things done.
Finally, things have been good in the Unknown Household. Unknown Baby Boy is crawling, and starting to make words - so far, he does "Da Da" and a pretty good imitation of an explosion (what can I say - he's a Boy Child). The Unknown Daughter continues to impress everyone with her writing skills (she recently described her mom and friends as "overly garrulous"), and has been reading up a storm.
Enough for now - my data awaits.
Those of you who knew him can read the story of his last couple of years as chronicled by his wife Rhonda at their blog.
I was fortunate to have known Mark these last few years. He was fun to hang around with at conferences, always quick with a laugh and a wisecrack (upon hearing that the Unknown Wife was pregnant, he immediately said "Congratulations - who's the father?"), and absolutely in love with his wife and kids. He was also an amazing teacher - just read a few of the comments at their blog, and you'll quickly get a sense as to how much his students loved him.
For those who knew him, here's some info from the blog:
The funeral will be held 10 a.m. this Friday morning at St. Michaels Catholic Church at North College St. in Auburn. Visitation hours will be at Jeffcoat Trant funeral Thursday night from 6-8pm.Fare well, my friend, if only for a while. You'll be reunited with family and friends some day (and if there's beer in heaven, we'll share a few). When you run into him, say hi to the Unknown Son for me - he'll be the one with the Wimpy Kid books. He was never all that physical because of his illness, and he'll need someone to teach him how to throw a curve-ball, if you know what I'm saying.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Mark Bertus Scholarship Fund at any Auburn Bank location or mail to PO Drawer 3110 Auburn, AL 36831-3110.
So, to see a Republican senator elected to Ted Kennedy's old seat is nothing short of amazing. By all accounts, Brown did as masterful a job of campaigning as Coakley did a horrendous one.
It should make for interesting times the next few weeks as the Democrats decide what to do as far as the Health Care plan is concerned. This may be the death knell for it.
Time will tell.
Then I saw one car (a bright red Mustang convertible without a faculty sticker) that took up two spaces. That's right - it's raining, he/she didn't have a sticker, and had taken up two spaces in a lot that they didn't even belong in - thereby ensuring that at least two people who belonged there could use the lot. So, I wrote them this little note (suitably wrapped so it wouldn't get soaked):
Sorry about denting your car. I tried several times to park in the next space to your left, but it was very tight. I think I hit your rear bumper on the corner, and I might have scratched the paint a bit (but it was hard to tell, since it was raining a bit). Then i tried in the space to your right, and might have done the same. Unfortunately, with your car taking up two spaces, it didn't leave me much room. If you have any questions, please call me - the scratch didn't look too bad, and I have insurance, so I'd be happy to take care of it.Then I left an illegible number.
It's not an original idea, but I hope the person involved has to spend a fair bit of time looking for the nonexistent damage.
In the rain.
Hey - I had to walk in it, so karma is that way.
Here's a short clip (luckily, he gets his looks from his mother). The quality is pretty poor because I took it with my cell phone, but it give you an idea. The other kid you hear is the Unknown Daughter. Enjoy.
On a work related note, looks like one paper's already been submitted to FMA (it helps having good coauthors who do most of the work). I'm still working on the second one, and hope to be done by early evening.
Of course, that means I'll probably still be in my office at 11 pm like I was last night - Groan!
Updated 8:00 p.m.: The second paper is done and submitted. Of course, at the very end, Acrobat refused to print it (there was something wrong with the version of Acrobat on my system). Luckily a colleague of mine also didn't have a life and was working late also, and it worked on his computer.
Murphy never rests. Never.
But luckily, neithr does my colleague.
Now it's time to feed the little bugger. and tomorrow night I go on a well-deserved date with the Unknown Wife.
Since coauthors on both papers are out of pocket for a while (one just had classes start up and the other is at -I kid you not- Disney), I guess then I'll just have to work on another project that needs a revision (I'm also "data monkey" on that one).
Uh oh - I spoke too soon.
First, this weekend when no one is around, my office computer gets cut off from the Internet by the University IT department - they said I had a virus. So, for the weekend I used my laptop for interned access (some citations and work on WRDS), and kept running analysis on my desktop - it has two screens and a lot more power.
Come Monday morning my college's IT guy (who is fantastic, BTW) said he'd look at it. So, I backed up all the relevant stuff for the two papers to a portable hard drive and started working on my notebook. I figure he'd scan the hard drives and give it back to me in a day or so.
Next thing you know, my IT guy tells me that my boot drive has gone Tango Uniform (I have two hard drives in the system - one is the boot drive and the other has all my data on it). Luckily I'd backed up everything from the data drive before giving the machine to him.
It's a 4 year old system, so, it looks like I'll be getting a new system with more memory and a bigger hard drive. But in the meantime, I'm working on a laptop with a 12 inch screen.
Ah well, I'm just about done with my part of the first paper, and I just got a load of stuff from my coauthor on the second one. So it'll be a busy week until Saturday.
One of these days I'll run across this Murphy guy, and we're gonna have some words.
Yale undergrads provided the latest illustration of Muggeridge's point. Here's the article from the Yale Daily News (The Game refers to the annual Yale/Harvard football game, which is their biggest rivalry):
The Freshman Class Council has run into controversy with its T-shirts for The Game.
The FCC has decided to change the design of its shirts after the original design, which was submitted by students and voted on by the freshman class, sparked outcry from members within the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. But after the LGBT Cooperative and other students raised concerns about the design — which contained the word “sissies” — administrators asked the FCC to reconsider. FCC representatives decided Tuesday to scrap the old T-shirts, which had not yet been printed, and make a new design.
The original design, which won out over five other entries, displayed an F. Scott Fitzgerald quote in the front — “I think of all Harvard men as sissies” — in bold white letters. The back of the long-sleeved, navy blue T-shirt said “WE AGREE” in capital letters, with “The Game 2009” scrawled in script underneath it.
But the term ‘sissies’ is considered offensive and demeaning, and as well as a “thinly-veiled gay slur,” said Julio Perez-Torres ’12, a member of the LGBT Co-op.
After the winning design was announced, FCC President Brandon Levin ’13 said, several students raised concerns about the design to their respective FCC representatives, which they in turn brought to the attention of the FCC Executive Board and Dean of Freshman Affairs Raymond Ou.
Read the whole thing here.
The quote originates from an F. Scott Fitgerald piece:
After all - we can't have taunting at a football game that might offend anyone, can we?
“I want to go to Princeton,” said Amory. “I don’t know why, but I think of all Harvard men as sissies, like I used to be, and all Yale men as wearing big blue sweaters and smoking pipes.”
“I’m one, you know.”
“Oh, you’re different — I think of Princeton as being lazy and good-looking and aristocratic — you know, like a spring day. Harvard seems sort of indoors — ”
“And Yale is November, crisp and energetic,” finished Monsignor.
They slipped briskly into an intimacy from which they never recovered.
— F. Scott Fitzgerald, Princeton X ‘17, This Side of Paradise
Two thoughts - first, what a bunch of sissies, and second, "Harvard men are sissies" is the best smack talk you can come up with for a football game? The Unknown Daughter is nine, and she could do better.
I remember back in the dark ages when I was an undergrad at UCONN. We played Brown every year in soccer (usually kicked their hineys - we were contenders for the national championship most years back then). Our traditional cheer was "What's the color of SH+T? Brown!" Now THAT's smack.
I think they call us sissies in return...
I blame Al Gore.
On a more serious note, here's wishing you a Happy New Year to one and all. May the best that you saw in 2009 be the worst that you'll see in 2010.