Friday, April 29, 2005

Filibusters Inc.

In reading Will's post on Begging to Differ, I have been stirred to defend the filibuster. How this will be done, I do not know. Stay tuned...

Thursday, April 28, 2005

UChicago Factoids

So I just posted a new link to It is a great site where students post interesting stuff about HP and the UofC. Very well worth checking up every now and again.

My Fashion Sense

First the NYT Men's fall fashion magazine, and now this! Only problem with fashion is that it means I am going to be out very, very soon :P Thanks to Anya for pointing this one out to me.
Maybe it's fitting, maybe it's paradoxical, maybe it's that murky mix of the two popularly called ironic. But in a day when men's grooming has hit heights of polish not seen since the roaring 20's, when Rudolph Valentino ruled the screen and Col. Jacob Schick patented the electric razor, the beard, in all its scraggly splendor, has come back to town...

"It's very, very current," said Jimmy Paul, a New York hairstylist who works exclusively on fashion shoots and who until recently did not take a beard trimmer to work. "It's a very subversive and strong look. It's like a new punk. I don't think you can really have a job with one."
Maybe that's why I don't have a job yet?

Tuesday, April 26, 2005


Now, Wilmott is a great magazine - the forums are very edumacational and whatnot, and most of the articles are thorough, and get as technical as the reader would like.

Today, on the front page, we find this:

Finance Focus event: The Non-Greek Non-Foundation of Derivative Pricing

How can derivative pricing be founded when the derivative pricing models all rely on a fixed collection of states of the world (e.g. values of the underlying, or other state variables) and the subsequent trading of those derivatives in fact never stops expanding the collection of states of the world? For instance, Black-Scholes assumes the underlying as sole state variable, yet trading options with Black-Scholes will almost certainly create new states of the world, i.e. stochastic implied volatility. Like all the sciences falling under the umbrella of the metaphysics of presence, option pricing theory cannot avoid this schema. There can be no foundation without presence. Yet the bigger picture of derivative pricing-AND-trading (in other words, the full story of calibration AND recalibration) is here to teach us that there is a non-foundation below the foundation, what we would call, following Derrida, the "non-Greek" non-foundation. Once we start looking at the derivatives from a non-foundational, i.e. deconstructed, point of view, it might appear to us that they are less derivative and more primordial to our overall understanding of the market than we think.

This made me think of both Zev and Yehuda.
Chag Sameach everybody.

Monday, April 18, 2005

I saw Oldboy a few days ago, with an old friend. Highly recommended; very dark (and gory) movie, which went on for about 5 minutes too long but wasn't really hurt by it. One of the awesomest fight scenes I've scene in a while, and one of the most hardcore protaganists I've seen since like, Fight Club. Go see it if you can stomach it.

In other news, my apartment is SPOTLESS. We had a cleaning lady come over yesterday - she spent almost 6 hours in the apartment, and did one heck of a job. There is almost nothing on the floor in my room, or anywhere. And the kitchen and bathroom were scrubbed and smell like cleaning stuff. I think I will be doing this at least once every two months or so.


Jose is a genius. Morfix is going to make Brinker's class soooooo much easier.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Chock Full

In my never ending quest to understand idioms, I present another bothersome one: chock full. Where the hell does that come from? Although the OED explains that it is uncertain, though this is its best guess:
The uncertainty begins with the first appearance of the word as chokke-fulle, cheke-fulle in the alliterative Morte Arthur, the spelling of which is very insecure. Conjectural derivations are from CHOKE v. (ME. choke, cheke) with sense ‘full to choking’, or ‘choked full’; from CHEEK (ME. cheke, CHOKE n.2) or the related chokes = chops, fauces, with sense ‘full to the chops’; from ME. CHOK, chokke ? to thrust, ram in, in sense ‘crammed full’. Either of the two former derivations would give an original long {omac} (which might perhaps, however, be shortened in the combination); the third would give short {obreve} from the beginning. Prob. there is a recent association with CHOCK n. and v., in some of their senses, but the latter are too late to be the origin; it is more likely that these senses have been developed under the influence of chock-full: see CHOCK adv.
God Bless the OED.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

For all of you keeping score at home...

So on Monday, Pres. Bush had important remarks on the Middle East and Israel in particular. It was picked up by Al Jazeera as a negative stance towards settlement expantion, but in general this is a continuation of Bush's strong support of Sharon and Israel. Notice the "development of the Golan and Negev" clause. This is tacit support by the US for the next front of demographic problems for Israel: the Golan, which is already a fair majority Arab. The hope is (I am guessing) that the US is going to pump money in the North as a trade. "We get out of Gaza, and you make sure we won't have to give up any more territory later."
The United States is working with Palestinians and Israelis to improve security on the ground. We are cooperating with the Palestinians to help them fulfill all their obligations under the road map, especially sustained, effective operations to stop terrorism and dismantle terrorist capabilities and infrastructure. Building true security for Israelis and Palestinians demands an immediate, strong and sustained effort to combat terrorism in all its forms.
Bush's mention of concrete security measures is significant. According to my research, it is with regards to stopping the smuggling of projectiles into Gaza. But more may have developed since I left. These statements really set the tone for negotiations over there, it's not just empty political banter.

Dr. Rice's remarks are interesting, but do not talk about security, the red letter topic over there (and the subject of my research over the summer). She did however say that disengagement first, aid second. This is a very important position of the American's because the US carrot is crucial. We give more than any other country to the Pals and this is a change from the World Bank's reports on disengagement, which was out this summer.

Before you stop drinking water...

NEJM says:

Conclusions Hyponatremia occurs in a substantial fraction of (1) nonelite (2)marathon runners and can be severe. Considerable weight gain while running, a (3)long racing time, and (4) body-mass-index extremes were associated with hyponatremia, whereas female sex, composition of fluids ingested, and use of nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs were not.

If all these things apply to you and you drink more than 0.75 gallons per race, you might want to cut down. But as Mickey was arguing to me, it is probably more dangerous to stop drinking than it is to be careful (as hyponatremia only occured in 0.6% of their sample, i.e., 3 people out of 430).

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Rashomon and Calvin

I watched Akira Kurosawa's "Rashomon" last night and I was struck by the Protestant implications of the movie. The movie is a series of four narratives of a single event, with each telling slightly contradicting the other. Both we, the audience, and the actors on stage are left with a deep dispare--how can we persist if we know that our experience is all a composite of lies?
In the end, though the narrator is implicitly implicated in the murder of the main character, in an act of generosity (taking in the orpahned child) we forget/forgive the woodcutter. As Donald Richie (the commentator in the background)says "Affirmation in the face of doubt is true courage for Kurosawa"
I think the movie sheds light on many of the difficulties Protestant theologians struggle with (e.g., multiplicity of truth and falsehood) but also points out a brighter side to Calvin. While Calvin does see man as a fallen being, we are still commanded to love each other. The American stereotype "You are all-right"* does run against the grain for Calvin, I do think that Calvin would acknowledge "affirmation in the face of doubt" or rather that we must love our neighbor even though s/he is fallen. It is specifically "affirmation in the face of doubt" (maybe anxiety in the works of Keirkegaard?) which allows us to press on with our religious existence.

And before Oren gets up-in-my-crew, I will note that the Rav loved Keirkegaard (which is where my love of Protestant theology comes from) and borrowed much of his writings from Karl Barth.

* I love the Radiohead song "Packt like Sardines in a Crushed Box" off Amnesiac, which hauntingly echos this idea.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

On Celebration

So I handed in my BA yesterday. Finally. Megan offered to take me out for a drink, for as she put it: I like not having to write a BA but still being able to celebrate when it's over.

Which got me thinking; I am not celebrating anything. I liked my BA, I liked tinkering with it. Now that I have handed it in all I have to do is wait for my preceptor to find 10 typos and give me a B+. All this means is that I am that much closer to being forcibly removed from the UofC. Why do I want to celebrate anything?!
I think that celebrations happen when people need a reason not to be sad. If you were already happy, you would not need to celebrate. Birthdays consistently suck, but because you celebrate it sort of makes them better. Why do I want to be any older than I already am? Who needs to get past 8 (possibly 12)? Graduation celebrates the end, accomplishments, but funerals do the same thing. I think I am occupied with a poem we read in Brinker's class yesterday about modernism and death.

ובורח אני היות גויה כואבת
לשם הצפורן של אצבעי הורדה
שהיא לי חמודה
- Uri Tzvi Greenberg

Beware of people trying to celebrate.

Reminders of Ol' Chicago

I was reminded again today of my college days (2000-2004) when I read about a unique combination of baseball and leyning heckling (in Bangitout). If we take Alan's suggestion seriously, then at least we can heckle him about his American accent in Tolkein.
The Geographist Fence cutting through the middle of Jerusalem. Posted by Hello

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Mental Note on Wittgenstein

Calvin is an iconoclast. However, as a Christian who believes in the Trinity he must concede that Christ was a physical embodiment of the one true God. So unlike the Rambam, he can't make the usual open set/closed set distinction (images are bad because they are bounded). Instead images are bad because they are the wrong type of representation. Words are good because they act as the fundamental substrate of inter-subjectivity. Unlike Genesis "In the beginning God created..." Calvin has the Johannian "In the beginning there was the Word..." As the Word is coeval with God that is the only true way of representing God and Truth. Like Wittgensteinian language which is fundamental to inter-subjectivity.

On a subject I know nothing about...

I asked Elise why women's fashion for spring and summer is so superior to men's. "Because we have to give birth." She replied with an obvious smirk. So there you have it, men's fashion does suck for the summer, but at least there is a divine reason why.

I am very happy to see that blazers are in for summer. At least that provides some variety to the usual blandness of light cotton shirts and khakis. I am not pleased, however, that non-pleated khakis are in. It looks European, and anything European must be bad. Abercrombie is trying to have its models wear as little as possible (and who needs to wear clothes in a nudist colony) and Gap is pushing the Cape Cod WASP, testament to my frustration.

Women however always have it good (save childbirth). JCrew seems to have some nice dresses (maybe a cardigan would make them tsanua?) and I do like jackets of all shapes and colors (on women- not men). Anthropologie always has smashing things to look at (never to buy, way too much money- but great ideas). And it looks like Abercrombie even has some nice ideas for tops. Over a t-shirt they too could be tsanua. I am also partial to floral prints, so long as they are not too bold. But the burning questions is: Why pants? In the winter I get it. It is too cold to wear clothing with no bottom, but even in the fashion dimension, things are not as bright and flowey. In the spring and summer though why not shirts? Pants tend to look so pedestrian, and it is very often difficult to cut right, just avoid the whole mess all together.

One trend I have seen that I utterly despise is the large old lady glasses. They look ugly and stupid and should be avoided at all costs.

As the title of this post suggests, I am an idiot when it comes to these things, but I am surrounded by people with supremely good taste (e.g. all these websites come from catalogs my sister orders). I try and that's what counts (unlike those so-and-sos down in midtown).

Monday, April 04, 2005

Sin City- Rated R

I saw Sin City last night. I am not such a fan of the series but the movie was A+ version of the comic.
The best line was already presented to me on shabbes:

Sin City, it's rated R for "Rocking awesome for little kids". (Ari Bytner to four year old girl) - in case you were wondering, that statement is counterfactual.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

יחד כלם קדשה לך ישלשו

(Warning - nerdy post to follow)

Settlers of Catan - what a great game. It's absolutely perfect for shabbos afternoons. You can finish a game in less than an hour, it involves up to 4 people (more if you play in teams, which is just as fun), and has just the right combination of luck and skill to allow both inexperienced and experienced folks to enjoy themselves.

Another nice thing about Settlers is that it is entirely constructive - while there is competition, obviously, the way you win the game is by literally constructing cities, roads, settlements, and sometimes armies and "wonders" (somewhat like civilization.) There is quite a bit of luck, but is entirely possible for an experienced player to steamroll 3 other beginners, dominating for the entire game.

Some thoughts on Settlers:

1) The two main strategies, i.e. the wood/clay and the wheat/ore strategy, work surprisingly well against uncoordinated opponents. If there is a guarenteed way to pull this off in the pre-game set-up (usually only the case if you are 4th to go), you have a very strong game ahead of you, especially if you manage to monopolize one of these 4 resources.

2) Monopolizing any one resource, even sheep, is powerful but is more likely to slow down the game than give you an extreme advantage. Usually such a monopoly requires taking bad numbers or being left with only 2 resources at the begining of them game; this usually only works if you have a port. If you own the port of that resource, you will likely win the game.

3) The wheat/ore strategy needs another settlement very, very, quickly, depending on how likely you are to be boxed in. It is usually worth trading 4-1 twice in order to get the clay you need for another settlement.

4) "Mixed" strategies, i.e. merely maximizing your resource probabilities at the beginning of the game without a clear plan, are a great way to come in 2nd place. I usually play to come in either first or last, so strategies which win early or not at all are most appropriate. Diversification is less valuable than it seems, because the first 15-30 dice rolls matter more than all of the rest.

5) By the same token, ganging up on the leader at the end is not always in your best interest. For instance, if you have 7 points, someone has 9, and wants to buy a dev card, it may be worth it to trade him that dev card for 2 clay so that you can take longest road, and still have an iota of chance of winning. If he draws a point, fine, he wins, but if not, you get 9 points and a chance to win yourself.

6) The NTR game is completely different, and requires a much more mathemtical strategy. Point 4 no longer applies, and clay/wood strategy seems to do better.

In closing, I have some wood for your sheep. That is all, good night.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Goodbye Pope John Paul II


Let us pray that, in recalling the sufferings
endured by the people of Israel throughout history,
Christians will acknowledge the sins
committed by not a few of their number
against the people of the Covenant and the blessings,
and in this way will purify their hearts.

God of our fathers,
you chose Abraham and his descendants
to bring your Name to the Nations:
we are deeply saddened by the behavior of those
who in the course of history
have caused these children of yours to suffer,
and asking your forgiveness we wish to commit ourselves
to genuine brotherhood
with the people of the Covenant.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Astounding. No Jew could have fathomed such remarks even 50 years ago. He was certainly a remarkable man in many respects... I am sure Jose will have more to say soon.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Rachel v. The Lorax: Round 1

This story greatly amuses me because both my parents are, in the words of some, "Commie-pinko-leftist-Tree Huggers". That's right, and they are proud of it. My Mom works for the county trying to rid the world of SUVs and my Dad prosecuted Love Canal and most recently he made sure that tax payer dollars were wasted in order that some old rocks be saved from demolition. I have always read the Lorax with much fondness in light of my not-so-crazy tree hugging parents.
I then find the anti-Zev's parents (embodied by Rachel) most amusing. It is almost satirical, lecturing one's child about how deforestation is a good thing. My, the strange people UofC collects.