Jaynes Your Way

Here are my thoughts about films, life, and what not. If you don't like them I'll give your money back.

Timelapse to work

31 March, 2010

Commute to internship from Christopher Jaynes on Vimeo.

Forecast this

30 March, 2010

 In a NYTimes article today, Leslie Kaufman writes,

"A study released this year by researchers at Yale and George Mason found that 56 percent of Americans trusted weathercasters to tell them about global warming far more than they trusted other news media or public figures like former Vice President Al Gore or Sarah Palin, the former vice-presidential candidate."
What? I Barely trust the weather man to accurately convey what the current weather is, let alone what it is going to be in 10 or 20 years. Al Roker has pulled the wool over my eyes one too many times.

Kaufman also writes,
"climate scientists use very different scientific methods from the meteorologists."
Yes, emperical science and data collected over time is VASTLY different from shaking a magic eight ball before the broadcast.
"Is it going to rain today, is it going to rain today."  

"Ask again later?! I go on in 3 minutes. Don't do this to me!"

(3 minutes later)

"Sorry folks this front is too   hard to predict. We have a high pressure system moving in on two low pressure systems. Add these to El Nino and a Canadian cold front moving and we just can't predict now what your afternoon weather will be like. We'll check back later after the computers crunch more numbers." 

Times Square from 33 floors up

29 March, 2010

The Quants

Over the past week, I've been working my way through the book Too Big to Fail written by Andrew Sorkin. It's a very detailed look at the collapse of the financial industry, giving biographic information about the key players and companies, while trying to contextualize the situation. I'm not too familiar with the world of finance, but Sorkin writes openly and explains a great deal for all the non-finance readers. The books posits, and many of the conversations illustrate quoted illustrate, that the CEOs, Managers, and business side people really had no idea how to value their assets, and that they really only know that they were making money and not how. Sorkin writing about former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan's, 

Greenspan would later admit that even he hadn't comprehended exactly what was happening. "I've got some fairly heavy background in mathematics," he stated two years after he stepped own from the Fed. "But some of the complexities of the instruments that were going into CDOs bewilders me. I didn't understand what they were doing or how the actually got the types of returns out of the mezzanines and the various trnched of the CDO that thye did. And I figure if I didn't understand it and I had access to a couple hundred PhDs, how the rest of the world is going to understand it sort of bewildered me."
Math has never been my strong suit, but I always appreciate people who are good at it, but there is always a sneaky suspicion that they are just playing a game of three card monty with you. "Follow the x, follow the x." Yes, you should make, as a business, be able to make profits, but not through shear craftiness with numbers.

This unabated ledgerdemain makes a strong case for regulations, not total, but we need some sort of control over these complex trading practices. Derivatives are more speculative, and are what led to the collapse of Wall Street and led to a "Great Recession." While this trading practice was highly profitable, for a time, for the firms, we see in the long run they are ultimately detrimental to the consumer. If the people who are suppose to understand it, don't, shouldn't that throw up a HUGE red flag?

Next on my reading list is "The Quants."

Saw this beaitiful video earlier today today and it kind of vizualized the complexity of these deals on Wall Street and other financial institutions. The video is about a minute and a half long.
(Sorry couldn't embed) 

#2 Hemingway on Writing

25 March, 2010

. . . writing is something that you can never do as well as it can be done. It is a perpetual challenge and it is more difficult than anything else that I have ever done--so I do it. And it makes me happy when I do it well.

To Ivan Kashkin, 1935     
Selected Letters, p. 419

Push all content to Netflix, please

24 March, 2010

There are three reasons I go to, or use to go to, Hulu.com: The Daily Show, SNL, and Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Fortunately, all most recent episodes of SNL are available, but early last year Hulu was only able to stream 5 Always Sunny at any given time, instead of having access to all three seasons. Then a few weeks ago Viacom decided to pull The Daily Show and The Colbert Report from Hulu entirely.

It's painful to have to go to the Comedy Central webpage to watch the shows, but it was smart on Viacom's part to yank the content from Hulu in order to build their site's community. I had no reason to go to the site before it was the sole source (other than TV, which I don't have) to watch my favorite programs, but I frequent it on a daily basis now.

I've always had my computer hooked up to my TV so I can watch shows from Hulu or Netflix's OnDemand, but the computer is now mainly collecting dust. For Christmas I got a BluRay player that connects to Netflix via my, now, 15 Mbs internet connection-- life changing. The player takes seconds to boot up, unlike the computer, it is basically on all the time.

I've watched more movies and TV shows then ever before, which is saying a lot. I like to have noise in the back ground while I do work. The Office and 30 Rock, which I have seen numerous times, are perfect. I don't have to pay attention to the shows, but I have the reassuring voice of Steve Carell and Alec Baldwin as if they were in the room. I use to play The Simpsons in the background during high school.

I think it is smart for TV shows to push their content to Netflix for several reasons:
1) Don't have to maintain your own site.
2) If I buy the DVD that is one time investment
3) Kick backs for every episode watched, and don't have to rely on Advertsing
4) It is more convenient for me.

I like having a one stop shop for my viewing needs, and if I have to go to each website I won't bother. (Reason Google Reader is great) It's great to actually watch TV shows and movies on an actually TV, and not a 15 inch screen.

I give these companies a few months before they start demanding more money from Netflix. I am fairly comfortable with the price I am paying per month now, and am not willing to go higher, like I am sure most people are. Till then, soak up the media!

Ernest Hemingway

23 March, 2010

Mice: What books should a writer have to read?
Y.C.: He should have read everything so he knows what he
has to beat.
Mice: He can't have read everything.
Y.C.: I don't say what he can. I say what he should. Of course
he can't.
Mice: Well what books are necessary?
Y.C.:He should have read War and Peace and Anna Karenina
by Tolstoi, Midshipman Easy, Frank Mildmay and Peter Simple,
by Captain Marryat, Madame Bovary and L' Education Sentimentale
by Flaubert, Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann, Joyce's
Dubliners, Portrait of the Artist and Ulysses, Tom Jones and
Joseph Andrews by Fielding, Le Rouge et Ie Noir and La Chartreuse
de Parme by Stendhal, The Brothers Karamazov and any
two other Dostoevskis, Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, The
Open Boat and The Blue Hotel by Stephen Crane, Hail and
Farewell by George Moore, Yeats's Autobiographies, all the
good De Maupassant, all the good Kipling, all of Turgenev, Far
Away and Long Ago by W. H. Hudson, Henry James's short
stories, especially Madame de Mauves, and The Turn of the
Screw, The Portrait of a Lady, The American-
Mice: I can't write them down that fast. How many more are
Y.C.: I'll give you the rest another day. There are about three
times that many.
Mice: Should a writer have read all of those?
Y.C.: All of those and plenty more. Otherwise he doesn't
know what he has to beat.
Mice: What do you mean "has to beat"?
Y.C.: Listen. There is no use writing anything that has been
written before unless you can beat it. What a writer in our time
has to do is write what hasn't been written before or beat dead
men at what they have done. The only way he can tell how he
is going is to compete with dead men. Most live writers do not
exist. Their fame is created by critics who always need a genius
of the season, someone they understand completely and feel safe
in praising, but when these fabricated geniuses are dead they
will not exist. The only people for a serious writer to compete
with are the dead that he knows are good. It is like a miler
running against the clock rather than simply trying to beat who-
ever is in the race with him. Unless he runs against time he will
never know what he is capable of attaining.
Mice: But reading all the good writers might discourage you.
Y.C.: Then you ought to be discouraged.

Proper tea

01 March, 2010

I am a habitual tea drinker. When I don't have classes or work and am home all day I go through about 3 Bodum French presses tea, usually green tea. When I am at work I probably go through a little bit less because I usually have to pack in my own bags of tea. Luckily, my current internship has a pantry full of Twinng's more popular teas: Green, Earl Grey, Lemon, Mint, and Black. No Oolong or Darjeeling so I usually bring those with me.

While I love having access to an ample (free) tea supply,  I rarely buy boxes of premade tea bags anymore despite always carrying two or three bags of tea with me incase I'm in a pinch. Yes, I use to buy Twinings, Tazo, and Celestial Seasonings, but as my years of tea drinking have grown--I started drinking Green tea in middle school--I've become more demanding of my cups of tea.

Industrial bags of tea are very weak in flavor. Real green tea should taste like grass, sort of, which is why I make my own tea bags. When you buy boxes of premade tea bags you are buying a ground up version of tea leaves. The rights pic is proper loose leaf and beside it on the left is are bags of ground up tea.

One special on the History Channel claimed that the tea in corporate tea bags is filter tea leaves through perpetually smaller mesh screens. The dust that makes it to the bottom of the screen gauntlet winds up in your bag. The smaller the tea surface the less you need to make tea flavored water.

Tea leaves shouldn't be a powder, unless it is matcha, but a tight ball that blossoms as it soaks. Quite beautiful to watch while it steeps in a glass pot.

I'm starting to live with the fact that rolling your own tea bags will never look as cool as rolling your own cigarettes, but,  I imagine, both are a better version of the respective product. There is also the "I made that myself" satisfaction.

It is really simple:
1) Purchase empty tea bags, here are some on Amazon. I pick mine up at Puerto Rico Importing Co.
2) And fill with your favorite variety of tea.
3) Done.

I'll work on a cost analysis and see if it is cheaper, depends on what type of tea you use, but really this is more about the quality and I am willing to pay a nickel or two more a cup for that.