Tuesday, September 30, 2008

BA Newbies - Next year in Jerusalem!

Since I didn't get invite to a Rosh Hashanah dinner, I thought I might blog a little something about the trouble being Jewish and an expat in Argentina.

Sometimes posters to BA Newbies can say things that seem insensitive. Like the following post that might be implying the existence of a secret South American banking system for Jews only. But wait, no one really believes that kind of crap do they? No, no. We must remember that not all posters speak English as their native language. So, let's test the waters and see what this person really thinks:

Poster :

There is private banking, among the Jewish community, or you have lot's of money.

Me :

I think I missed the memo. Can you say more about private banking in
the Jewish community?

I had no idea that I'd get a free checking account w/ my circumcision.
Frankly, I'd take a do over. ;-)

What the hell is private banking in the Jewish community? I never got an answer but I did get this:

--- Knock off the stupid comments...

There are predominantly Jewish Banking are there are Muslim Banking.

It's available in Central American & South American. There is a branch

here in NYC.

Oh, this really clears things up, genius.

I should also mention that after I sent this post, I got a private email from someone that seemed to be accusing me of being antisemitic. I suppose the emoticon wasn't a big enough hint. Next time I'll use a bigger font so you geezers can see it.

Oh, and for you gap-year kids that wonder what the big deal is, here's a hint. Antisemitism is as uncool as not voting for Obama.

BA Newbies - Stick it Where The Sun Don't Shine

Expats come in all forms. Here we have an example of the sort that feel compelled to irrigate their colon. I've never understand these folks and their belief that the human intestine works the same as kitchen plumbing or that sometimes it gets clogged up with "toxins."

Your little email tells me that you don't know what you are talking

Yes...you can find a Colonic Hydroptherapist...usually located in
health spas.

If you are dehydrated, you drink water. You can get a colonic for
health or you can get several for weight loss.

As the author makes perfectly clear, colonics do nothing to prevent one from being full of shit.

BA Newbies - I'm Gonna Blow!!!

Sometimes being an expat can be hard. This poor soul has been pushed to the edge. After kindly soliciting for folks interested in exchanging dollars for peso -- something this poster does monthly in order to pay his rent -- he's met with few verbal barbs. Today he'd had enough:

I can't believe you retarded fucks are starting this shit again! If you are not interested in the exchange described be an intelligent mature person and recognize it does not apply to you and just pass the message. I am not looking for comments, suggestions or opinions. If you are interested please contact me via private email.

I know just how he feels. Hang in there, brother.

BA Newbies - Criminal Wages

Rather than bother folks on the BA Newbies list with my opinions, I thought I'd start blogging my reactions to some of odd things I see on the mailing list. I won't include the posters name because I suspect it will upset them if I do. With that said, here's comment that caught my attention.

What to pay a full time maid-response:

Paying someone 1000 pesos a month for full time work is criminal! It might be the market rate, but we all know what things cost.

The market rate is criminal? If that were the case, why are so many willing to work at this rate? It could be that 11 dollars a day is better than 1 for someone trying to move out of poverty. 

So here's the take away: If you are not paying your maid more that a 1000 peso a month, do the compassionate thing and fire them. I'm sure they will thank you.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Tropical Drinks

Megan McArdle (September 26, 2008) - Okay . . .
My position on global warming: a federal program to make sure everyone has an adequate supply of little umbrellas for their tropical drinks!

Okay, Megan was making fun of Obama's Georgia comment but I think she's on to something. We might as well enjoy our new climate.

BTW, I'm skeptical that man as *the cause* of global warming.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Philosophy Matters

I'm on a number of mailing lists where the topic of Fannie Mae has been broached. Oddly, people are advocating throwing the baby out with the bath water. That is, they think we are seeing a failure of the market and are calling for government regulation and oversight. Most of these folks probably unfamiliar with root cause analysis because if you apply the 5 whys exercise to this problem, I think it's clear that the cause is government meddling. 

Fannie and Freddie: Socialist from the Start (Cato-at-liberty)
When the Cato Institute was founded in 1977 one of the first things the board of directors did was set a policy that we would not accept government funding. A simple libertarian principle, really, that money forcibly extracted from people who do not agree with our approach to public policy should not have to fund it. For 32 years, that has been our policy. In 1995 I received a letter from John Buckley, a v.p. for communications at Fannie Mae informing me of the good news that Cato was going to receive a $100,000 grant from his institution. I wrote back, Thanks, but no thanks, we have a policy against receiving money from government institutions like Fannie Mae. Boy, did I ever get a nasty letter back from Buckley stating that in no way was Fannie Mae a government entity.


Clearly, with current International Monetary Fund estimates of the costs of the 2007-2008 subprime crisis, the banking system seems to have lost more on risk taking (from the failures of quantitative risk management) than every penny banks ever earned taking risks.

I wonder if this will turn out to be true.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

There's a nice piece over at The Distributed Republic about Freedom, Empire and claims that state and large corporations are one in the same. One idea that jumped out at me was the following:

Yes, the US is, in essence, a free country | The Distributed Republic
There's a lot of wackjob blathering about how the "entrenched political class" screws over the helpless little guy. Bullshit! The little guy, for as low as $8 a trade, can profit off of anything pretty much anyone in this country does.

Next time I run into some wild-eyed expat punching above their weight in a discussion about the nature of the US economy, I think I'll ask them if they've placed a bet.

Talk is cheap.

Monday, September 15, 2008


This explains a lot. According to researchers from the University of Cambridge, my home state of Maine might explain why I'm such a pain in the ass.

New Yorkers are neurotic and unfriendly, says Cambridge University 'personality map' - Telegraph

Personality traits: Warm, compassionate, co-operative and friendly.

Highest-scoring states: North Dakota, Minnesota, Mississippi, Utah, Wisconsin, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, Oklahoma, Nebraska.

Lowest-scoring states: New York, Nevada, Wyoming, District of Columbia, Alaska, Maine, Rhode Island, Virginia, Connecticut, Montana.

...but I have issues with the study. ;-)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Lean Mean Hunting Machines in Paraguay

Describing the Paleo Diet & detailed inquiries; frequently asked questions about Paleolithic nutrition, health, and disease prevention
My research colleague, Dr. Kim Hill from the Univ of NM has spent the last 30 years studying the Ache people and has gone along with the men as they hunt peccaries in the forests. Kim reports that the men frequently would get up in the morning, eat no breakfast and then chase after peccary herds, in hunts that could last 6-8 hours or more. During this time the Ache men took no food and only drank water during the extended chase. Kim said he tried to "run with the hunt" with the Ache men, but could never do it. He always had to have his breakfast to be able to keep up. He told me the Ache men would laugh at him. Apparently, these hunters have metabolic systems that make magnificent use of the fatty acid metabolic pathways. It would be interesting to measure IMT stores, and beta-oxidation pathways (fat breakdown) in the Ache and compare them to westerners.

IMT stores? beta-oxidation pathways? Where's the home test kit?

US Protectionism : Argentina is no friend of ours

Here's a great example of a US cattle rancher doing all he can to prevent competition. Ass.

The Prairie Star: Montana Ag Newspaper
In the middle of the Farm Bill fight, the USDA introduced a plan to open up the U.S. market to meat from a country with documented Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) problems. Argentina does not have a tradition of democratic government and beneficent leadership. Indeed, the country has often been ruled by corrupt and incompetent leadership which is only interested in enriching itself at the expense of the Argentine people. Therefore it should not surprise anyone that Argentina has a long history of debt-default and declining standards of living for its inhabitants.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Exercise Intensity vs. Volume

I use to be a volume guy putting in as much as 20 hours a week in preparation for 50 minute criterium races. Not a good use of time and not event specific.

Maybe this time I can be a little smarter.

Dr. Tabata
Dr. Izume Tabata’s groundbreaking research published in 1996, on short, intense intervals. Dr. Tabata and his colleagues at the National Institute of Health & Nutrition, Tokyo, Japan, reported: "[Six to 8 very hard 20 second intervals with 10 second rest periods] may be one of the best possible training protocols…” Dr. Tabata told Dick Winett in a personal communication: "The rate of increase in VO2max [14% in only 6 weeks] is one of the highest ever reported in exercise science." What’s more, anaerobic capacity increased by a whopping 28%.

That's only 2 minutes of hell total over a 2:50 period assuming 6 intervals. Tabata's test subjects did this 5 days a week for 6 weeks.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Moral High Ground

I won't read too much into the study mentioned below but it is interesting and reflects much of my experience with those that call themselves liberals. I'm certain that when I considered my self a liberal, I was biased in this way.

Harris is a fine thinker and think you'll enjoy his rebuttal to Haidt.

The Reality Club: WHAT MAKES PEOPLE VOTE REPUBLICAN? By Jonathan Haidt -- Response by Same Harris
Haidt is, of course, right to worry that liberals may not always "hold the moral high ground." In a recent study of moral reasoning, subjects were asked to judge whether it was morally correct to sacrifice the life of one person to save one hundred, while being given subtle clues as to the races of the people involved. Conservatives proved less biased by race than liberals and, therefore, more even-handed. It turns out that liberals were very eager to sacrifice a white person to save one hundred non-whites, but not the other way around, all the while maintaining that considerations of race had not entered into their thinking. Observations of this sort are useful in revealing the biasing effect of ideology—even the ideology of fairness.

Monday, September 8, 2008

hHurricanes and the Village People

BBC Will and Testament | William Crawley's broadcasting diary
"You prove it is not true..."

Why should I have to prove it's NOT true? You prove it's true! You're the one making the claims, dude. How's about this: I assert that there is a huge, invisible, revolving penis in the sky, which is responsible for hurricanes and the Village People.

Prove it is not true.

Hat tip to John Wright.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day -- Francisco d'Anconia

"Francisco's Speech"
"To the glory of mankind, there was, for the first and only time in history, a country of money--and I have no higher, more reverent tribute to pay to America, for this means: a country of reason, justice, freedom, production, achievement. For the first time, man's mind and money were set free, and there were no fortunes-by-conquest, but only fortunes-by-work, and instead of swordsmen and slaves, there appeared the real maker of wealth, the greatest worker, the highest type of human being--the self-made man--the American industrialist.

"If you ask me to name the proudest distinction of Americans, I would choose--because it contains all the others--the fact that they were the people who created the phrase 'to make money.' No other language or nation had ever used these words before; men had always thought of wealth as a static quantity--to be seized, begged, inherited, shared, looted or obtained as a favor. Americans were the first to understand that wealth has to be created. The words 'to make money' hold the essence of human morality.

"Yet these were the words for which Americans were denounced by the rotted cultures of the looters' continents. Now the looters' credo has brought you to regard your proudest achievements as a hallmark of shame, your prosperity as guilt, your greatest men, the industrialists, as blackguards, and your magnificent factories as the product and property of muscular labor, the labor of whip-driven slaves, like the pyramids of Egypt. The rotter who simpers that he sees no difference between the power of the dollar and the power of the whip, ought to learn the difference on his own hide-- as, I think, he will.

"Until and unless you discover that money is the root of all good, you ask for your own destruction. When money ceases to be the tool by which men deal with one another, then men become the tools of men. Blood, whips and guns--or dollars. Take your choice--there is no other--and your time is running out."

A roadie without Roads

For the cyclist, the hectic city streets of Buenos Aires never seem to end and the traffic is down right relentless. You just can't escape into the country by bike and that means no five hour group rides, 3 hour recovery rides before work or any other sort of distance training. The city just not deisgn for that. How on earth the local triathletes train for the bike leg of an ironman on the KDT circuit is beyond me. I find those endless 2 minute loops mind numbingly boring and the more my mind struggles the less intensity I can hold.

So what's roady to do? How can a cyclist every get really fit without spending 20 hours a week on the road? The Tabata Protocol is one way:

Tabata Protocol training is named after it's Izumi Tabata, Ph.D., who did research at Japan's National Institute of Fitness and Sports. The actual creator of the workout was a coach of a Japanese speed-skating team, but the protocol was refined after research by Tabata affirmed the aerobic and anaerobic benefits of the interval training. It was simple enough for the team, 20 seconds of full effort skating followed by 10 seconds of full rest repeated 6 to 7 times. The entire session is meant to last 14 minutes including 5 minutes of warm up and 5 minutes of active cool down. Tabata helped prove that just 4 minutes of this extremely intense training would promote stronger cardiovascular fitness and anaerobic performance. Here we will break down examples of the training into two sections, the average person and the advanced athlete.

What I like best about Tabata style training is how quickly it's over. The mind only needs to be highly focused for the short "on" period. 20 seconds of intense suffering ain't so bad. I did this sort of training during my last season of criteruem racing to good effect and I think it fits the city life rather well.

Come to think of it, much of the cross fit work that Julia did in Santa Cruz resembled Tabata's protocol and that worked wonders for her too.