THIS BLOG IS MY BLOG. THIS BLOG IS MY BLOG. Welcome to the Home of Hyperopia.: July 2005

Friday, July 29, 2005

Listing to Starboard

Got this recommended playlist from a friend. I don't know about all that, friend.

  1. Easy Tonight/Five for Fighting
  2. Low Light/Pearl Jam
  3. Seven Seas of Rhye/Queen
  4. Mahna Mahna/Cake
  5. Fat Bottomed Girls/Queen
  6. Something About You/Five for Fighting
  7. Short Skirt, Long Jaket/Cake
  8. Santeria/Sublime
  9. Bicycle Race/Queen (Just had to, right?)
  10. By the Way/Red Hot Chili Peppers
  11. Are you Gonna Be My Girl/ Jet
  12. Brain Stew/ Green Day
  13. Baby Bitch / Ween
  14. Pay to Play/ Nirvana
  15. What I Got / Sublime
  16. Cold Hard Bitch / Jet
  17. Beverly Hills/ Weezer
  18. Nice Guys Finish Last/ Green Day
  19. Fortune Faded / Red Hot Chili Peppers
  20. The Dope Show/ Marilyn Manson
  21. Wrong Way / Sublime
  22. Dumb / Nirvana
  23. Caress Me Down / Sublime
  24. Sabotage / Beastie Boys
  25. More Human Than Human/ White Zombie
  26. Last Resort / Papa Roach
  27. Sleep Now in the Fire / Rage Against the Machine
  28. Dragula/ Rob Zombie
  29. Toxicity/ System of a Down
  30. People of the Sun / Rage Against the Machine

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Every Second Counts ...

Great news! I have been alive more than one billion seconds. I passed this important milestone just over 46,000,000 seconds ago. Speaking of compounded returns, at least I've achieved something during this lifetime that exceeds one billion. All in all, I rate this news pretty exciting stuff.

See all the data here: These Are The Days of My Life

P.S. I grant you that seconds don't actually compound. They just add up.

Euphemism of the Day

Do you like euphemisms?
Me too. Definitely.

Here's a wonderful one from a Toby Keith song (Track 7):

  • There's a blue-eyed blonde in a red hot sweater,
    She wants to spice my chili and I think I'm gonna let her ...

That's a new one on me. And I even live in the South.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Patriot (Act), Schmatriot

I think its the word "Orwellian" that learned people apply to ridiculously mis-named things like "The Patriot Act". In that regard, Ron Paul has filed another important report.

This is the most important part:
  • America was not founded on a promise of security, it was founded on a promise of personal liberty to pursue happiness.

This is the second most important part:

  • The Patriot Act, like every political issue, boils down to a simple choice: Should we expand government power, or reduce it?

The correct answer, of course, is reduce it. A good thing to practice is to ask yourself what you would like your government to do for you. And say the correct answer out loud: "Nothing." (I done borrowed the foregoing from Lew Rockwell.)

All of this recalls a fundamental wisdom we should all keep in mind as we go through our daily lives: "There's a difference between knowing the path and walking the path." Knowing the path is reasonably difficult; it requires showing some interest and from time to time a little bit of thinking. But walking the path. Now that is the challenge. The worthiest challenge life presents. It's avoiding the short-term traps (fear, greed) in favor of the long-term payoff (love, peace). It's not being willing to temporarily sacrifice a little freedom for a little security. Down that path lies ruin. Corruption. Devestation.

Don't be like Bill Horton. Decide that it's the tattoo on your right knuckles that holds your fate. And make it happen.

Finally, say what you want about Keanu Reeves (Seriously, go ahead. I think he's dashing.), but that movie The Matrix sure repackaged a lot of good old-fashioned, honed through the centuries wisdoms into 135 minutes.

You Sell the Shizzle

Grandmaster Flash is really the only artist worth mentioning or quoting. Please spare us all the P.E. in Full Effect derivative hoo-ha. I was listening to the Grandmaster before the last time you were lying in a pile of your own drool, humming nursery rhymes with your arms and legs akimbo. Oh wait. Maybe not. For some of you that was just back in college. Or even more recently.

Monday, July 25, 2005

On Things We Can't Live Without - Part 2

  • The signal transduction response to the
    presence of double-strand break in the cell.

For more please see:


Friday, July 22, 2005

Land's End Update

I'm embarrassed to report I haven't made any progress towards testing whether Land's End is really going to come through with reimbursing me for the tailoring cost of fixing those pants. It's been fairly busy here at the office what with all the late night negotiations and the festering morality obsession. So I haven't even been down to the tailor to ask as to the fee.



Patience was her name.
Waiting was her game.
The raccoon she had was tame.
And the song remains the same.

On Civilian Casualties - Part 1

I want to continue this interesting and useful discussion from the comments section related to my previous post here. But I want to try to focus on the question of civilian casualties in warfare, both historical and modern. My primary idea here is to discuss why I think the current tactics and strategies employed by coalition forces are morally unacceptable and unsupportable, and why that means we should not be doing what we are doing.

So, setting the table, let's first recognize some already defined common ground:

  • The Velvet Fogg is correct - civilian casualties have always been and will always be a tragic part of war.
  • Terrorists intentionally targeting civilians is horrendous, terrible, immoral, and wrong.

I hope the next bullet point is also common ground:

  • There is an enormous moral difference between (1) the accidental killing of a civilian by a military actor in a cross-fire, for example, between rival factions, soldiers, fighters, etc. and (2) the intentional killing of a civilian by a military actor (or terrorist) with some sort of weapon of mass destruction (i.e., a bomb not specifically aimed at military targets or aimed at military targets in a place where it is known there are also civilians).

And now for some more interesting stuff. That I think should be common ground, but that I suspect (to my horror) is not.

I submit:

  1. That a military campaign that (a) asserts that its goal is to root out and kill terrorists and to find and destroy terrorist cell groups and then (b) drops very large bombs onto large cities in places where it knows beyond a shadow of a doubt non-terrorist civilians are living (and praying) is a military campaign that will not achieve a very high degree of success with respect to its stated goal and will result in many criminal murders and personal injuries; and
  2. That a military campaign that (a) would succeed at rooting out and killing terrorists and finding and destroying terrorist cell groups (b) would result in greatly increased casualties to coalition forces and is therefore not politically acceptable.

One thing I think is happening here is that we want blood, revenge, and justice (maybe in that order). We are mad as hell. Many horrible, violent, tragic crimes, including criminal murder, were committed against us (WTC, Pentagon, suicide bombings in Israel, Bali, etc.). On our turf. And that (correctly) makes us upset. And that (correctly) makes us want to find the criminals and stop them and kill them or bring them to justice. But at the same time most of us are (correctly) very much opposed to very many of us dying or getting hurt in that effort.

So this presents a moral dilemma for our politicians. On the one hand, it will be very costly in terms of soldiers getting hurt and killed (so politicians lose votes) to follow a military strategy that is designed to minimize civilian casualties. (Soliders on the ground are a lot easier for terrorists to ambush and kill than airplanes dropping bombs from the skies are to shoot down.) And on the other hand, it will be very costly politically to take no action because the citizenry wants to know the politicians are out there working to keep them safe (so taking no action = politicians lose votes).

So, under the circumstances, our current slate of politicians did what most politicians have done throughout history. They intentionally implemented a military strategy that was predestined to result in large numbers of civilian deaths and casualties. We are not on the moral high ground here. Our politicians have chosen an immoral path. They have chosen to kill foreign civilians rather than risk the lives of coalition soldiers. They are telling the world that they think the lives of "our" soliders are worth more than the lives of "their" civilians. It is impossible for me to reconcile that decision with the moral code we purport to follow. I just don't think that is a morally supportable decision.

I also highly recommend - on this topic - Gary North's columns analyzing and discussing the morally repugnant decision to drop atomic bombs in World War II. His thoughts and his reader's responses to his columns are very much worth reading. See Part 1 and Part 2 and Part 3 for those articles.


It is wrong for terrorists to kill civilians. It is wrong for the coalition military to kill civilians. Two wrongs don't make a right. If we want to bring the terrorists to justice (or kill them) morality requires us to choose a different path.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

On Terrorism - Part 3

My apologies, to a degree, for the political focus of these last few posts. Rest assured, an in-depth criticism of the song I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus is coming up soon.

But Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) has posted an important report discussing an unconventional way of thinking about suicide bombers that I think is very much worth your review.

Consider these sentences:

  • Between 1982 and 1986, there were 41 suicide terrorist attacks in Lebanon. Once the U.S., the French, and Israel withdrew their forces from Lebanon, there were no more attacks.

Assuming that's true, isn't that noteworthy? Isn't it worth thinking about?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Where Will It End?

Here's some lunacy. At least the proposal is still going to be debated. Although of course it's likely to be passed. We are talking about government here. This idea is so un-helpful I'm not even going to begin to deconstruct it.

Guts in Office

This London's mayor's comments are encouraging. It's nice to see this point of view expressed in a fairly dispassionate way by a politician with some exposure. Especially at what I'd generally think would be a very politically-sensitive time for him. Local politicians throwing down the philosophical gauntlet at the central government intervenors. I'm interested that the international edition of has this story as the top story whilst it's just listed third or fourth in the "Other Top Stories" at the BBC news website. Of course by the time readers here click on those links it'll probably look different. Sorry I don't know how to memorialize the pages.

Readers of Gary North or Lew Rockwell or Ron Paul or William Lind have been exposed to this line of argument for quite awhile. It's an important question. Obviously.

I have a thought about this particular quote from the London mayor:

  • "If at the end of the First World War we had done what we promised the Arabs, which was to let them be free and have their own governments, and kept out of Arab affairs, and just bought their oil, rather than feeling we had to control the flow of oil, I suspect this wouldn't have arisen."

Whether London's mayor is right or not (about whether the current terrorism concerns would have arisen, which is what I assume he's talking about), the interventions conducted by western central governments are in some sense a violation of the property rights of the citizens of those countries (or their governments). If we're talking about oil, which I think we probably are, what I mean is that whether the private citizens of those countries or the governments of those countries owned the oil in those countries, one thing seems clear: the governments of Europe and the United States didn't own the oil in those countries.

But we wanted it. We needed it to support our standard of living.

And apparently our collective central governments were (and are) not willing to just hope that the people who lived in oil-rich countries would want to sell it to us. This makes sense, logically. Politicians would get voted out of office if the oil stopped flowing to the U.S. on their watch. But forcing (or coercing) someone to sell something to you restricts that person's freedom. So I submit that if we really wanted people everywhere to be "free," we would be respectful of the freedom of the seller - i.e., if I don't want you for a customer, it's my prerogative not to sell to you. (Side note of course, the current political/legal climate in the U.S. itself is far, far, far from this. The ADA and EEOC spring to mind as government interventions that dramatically reduce sellers' freedoms. Whether you like the results is a different question.) It's fairly clear to me that we don't trust these sellers. We're worried they'll decide (or realize, more accurately) that our money really is no good there.

On Things We Can't Live Without - Part 1

Without gravity, there could be no juggling. (Except for certain semi-juggling activities like force bounce juggling and passing.)

Monday, July 18, 2005

A Capital Development, My Good Man

Prior to today, I was lost regarding cost of capital. Especially cost of equity capital. That concept just made no sense to me. Luckily, I know tolerant private equity folks. One in particular - let's call him John - graciously indulged me in the email exchange below. Since I answered his last question correctly, I'm optimistic that I might someday thoroughly understand this concept. Anyway, to: (1) expose my tender, ignorant underbelly; and (2) help those of you fans who are similarly disadvantaged at these matters of high finance, the exchange is set forth below in its entirety.

  • From: John
    To: Garrett
    Sent: Monday, July 18, 2005, 13:13

    And with that we move to lunch.

  • From: Garrett
    To: John
    Sent: Monday, July 18, 2005, 13:10


  • From: John
    To: Garrett
    Sent: Monday, July 18, 2005, 13:07

    Yes. Now for the missing link. I am selling a $100 bill and will deliver in 1 year. How much will your hypothetical company below pay for that asset? How much would someone with a 30% equity return (and $0 debt) expect to pay?

  • From: Garrett
    To: John
    Sent: Monday, July 18, 2005, 13:02

    Because you like me? That's a joke. Inappropriate one too, as on further reflection I think I'm starting to appreciate why your question is intelligent. But obviously gobs of people do give companies money and then the companies generate a lower return than US Treasuries. Of course, that fact is not relevant to a calculation of the cost of equity capital. How about this - one thing that flummoxes me about it is that today, I can make a pretty good prediction how much "debt" is going to cost a company I'm looking at. I can calculate their interest expense and make assumptions about whether they'll pay off principal or borrow more money, etc. But of course I can't make many accurate predictions about what equity investors are going to do, how much they'll want to charge the company for the capital they contribute to it.

    Is that right?

    OK, so now I feel like with cost of equity, I have to look back. I have to say, well, historically, people have expected a 10% return on their equity capital from this company. Oh wait ... maybe I'm getting there. So then I can also say that, well, I can see from the balance sheet/income statement that it's going to cost this company 6.5% for their debt capital. And from those two pieces of information I can make assumptions about whether the investment is sound? I'm still missing something.

    I also haven't slept much in a week, so if you've wearied of this for today, by all means let me know and we can table it for another lunch discussion.

  • From: John
    To: Garrett
    Sent: Monday, July 18, 2005, 13:00

    Close. Perhaps a question helps. Question: If I can put my money in a US backed treasury and earn 8% a year, why would I give you money if your intentions are only to increase my stock 5% per year?
  • From: Garrett
    To: John
    Sent: Monday, July 18, 2005, 12:44

    OK. I feel like I'm getting closer, then. So if someone says to me that XYZ Corp. has a "cost of equity capital" of 15%, are they really looking at the amount of equity capital contributed to the company historically and comparing that to the profits of the business or earnings allocated to the equity holders or something like that?

  • From: John
    To: Garrett
    Sent: Monday, July 18, 2005, 11:51

    Nope. You are right on. Its very vague. Just always remember your equity shareholders want a return too. IE) in the MLP scenario, they demand anywhere from 4% (coal) to 15% (levered pipelines).

  • From: Garrett
    To: John
    Sent: Monday, July 18, 2005, 11:33

    That is almost helpful! Ha ha. One of the things I guess I'm struggling with about is that I'm thinking returns to equity are generally less predictable (or maybe it's just less easy to quantify) than returns on debt. Does that make sense? I mean my brain can totally understand debt. I loan you $100. You pay me back $110 sometime later. The return to me, the lender, is clear. The cost to you, the borrower, is also. Now if I contribute $100 to you as equity, I've got an expectation about what I want the return to be, but you haven't promised me any return. Am I an idiot?

  • From: John
    To: Garrett
    Sent: Monday, July 18, 2005, 9:54

    The equity portion can be quite complex formulaically. Beta, risk capital, treasury etc. I'd have to look it up to get it right. The easiest way to think about cost of equity is in third party terms. If I lent you $50,000 for a down payment on a car and the bank loaned you $100,000 (we'll use a Ferrari as the picture in our heads, think big right!?!). The bank would charge a rate of interest, say 7% and I would charge you interest or have some sort of kicker. We charge 10% before management begins to back into any sort of promoted ownership. Our target retrun is 25% thought so in models, if that's what we want to achieve on our equity, our equity component needs to represent 25%.

    25% * .333 + 7% * .667 = 12.9%.

    Every project we look at now needs to return at least 12.9% annually to get me my 25% and pay the bank its 7%.

  • From: Garrett
    To: John
    Sent: Sunday, July 17, 2005, 22:13

    OK - next remedial finance question is can you explain cost of capital to me? I can understand how the cost of debt capital is determined. That makes sense to me. But I can't get my head around how the cost of equity capital is determined. Maybe if you could put it into terms of a person's just general personal life it would make sense to me. Any help you can give in this regard would be greatly appreciated.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Peak Oil, Schmeak Oil

It's easy to find articles written by learned, intelligent people advising that the world is running out of oil (This search found 149 articles.). PDQ. Well, rest easy, friends and neighbors. I'm here to tell you that this is simply absurd. There's no need for all the gloom and doom.

The world will never run out of oil. I promise. Mother Earth is a creative gal. It may take her a little time (maybe a billion years or so), but even if we find all the places she's hidden it this time, someday there will once again be all kinds of oil available for plunder. Probably some of it will be as easy to find and as easy to exploit as the finest fields in Saudi Arabia.

The quest for oil is really like a global easter egg hunt, isn't it? Mother Earth has hidden those eggs in all kinds of places. And some people just love to track 'em down and open 'em up. I'm sure glad those people are out there. Sometimes they find a shiny penny. Sometimes they are disappointed. Sometimes they find a yacht. But I digress.

It would be interesting to know how many dozens or hundreds of millenia will occur between the last hydrocarbon-powered piston's firing for our generation (geologically speaking) and the next whoever (or whatever) lives here when that next round of exploitation gets under way. Not even Google has the answer to that question.

Anyway, for the time being, I remain ...

The Poster

Saturday, July 16, 2005


For years I claimed I didn't like coconut. Not in cookies, not in candy. But now I do. I just ate an Almond Joy and d*mned if I didn't really enjoy it. I'm going to eat another right now. Not only that, I buy the coconut frosted donuts out of your average, run-of-the-mill, sugar pumper vending machine over chocolate-frosted or powdered sugar. I'm disappointed if coconut frosted donuts aren't available.


A similar phenomenon occurred with olives.

Thursday, July 14, 2005


Today for the first time in decades I tried one of those Shoot the Moon games. And for the first time ever I shot the moon. Twice.

5000 points, baby.

It was fairly exciting (for me).

Monday, July 11, 2005

It's all about the Benjamin (Franklin)

I laughed out loud (OK, I chuckled out loud) when I read this Benjamin Franklin quote tonight.

  • He that would live in peace and at ease, must not speak all he knows nor judge all he sees.

-- Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

I laughed because (1) I've been telling myself for a couple of years now that I would like to live in peace and at ease, (2) I just started this weblog, which, if the quote is accurate, quite clearly offers me the means to fail to achieve said peace and ease, and (3) wise counsel I have received (and, candidly, paid for) encouraged me to stop precisely the manner of sharing in which I'm likely to indulge in this weblog. To date, I just can't help myself. But it's nice to be able to amuse oneself, isn't it? My consolation is that at least I'm now able to recognize that/when I'm drifting off course.

Margaritaville vs. The Piano Man

Which is the more popular song, Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffett or The Piano Man by Billy Joel. I've got my money on Margaritaville. I'd also argue that Margaritaville is the most popular song of the past 40 years (at least most popular "American" popular song; there's probably a song or two sung by more Chinese or Indians than there even are Americans, much less Americans that have sung Margaritaville).

Please suggest alternatives if you've got 'em.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Springsteen - Live or Memorex?


  • Listening to Bruce Springsteen's studio albums is more enjoyable than listening to his live albums.
  • Bruce Springsteen's studio albums are better than his live albums.
  • Bruce Springsteen rocks.

I know Bruce Springsteen enjoys (and deserves) a reputation as one of the all-time greatest live performers in rock and roll history. I've only seen him live once, when he was touring in support of his early 1990s albums Human Touch [ ] and Lucky Town [ ]. It was a fine show but almost certainly nothing compared to the Born in the USA tour. (For one thing, the Big Man wasn't there; he had a woman playing saxophone.) Plus he didn't really play an excessively long show. I would've loved to see him in the 1970s and early 1980s. I have a video with Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) on it that looks awesome. Jersey girls rush the stage. And he is loving it. But I digress.

It just seems that the energy and entertainment value of his live shows does not translate onto his live recordings. I like Bruce Springsteen. I listened to every song on his studio CDs (other than Cover Me from the Born in the U.S.A. album) chronologically on more than one long drive. But I never intentionally listen to any of his live songs that are also on his studio CDs. (I do love Jersey Girl and Fire off the 3 CD live set, and his live version of Santa Claus is Coming to Town is the best version of that song anywhere ever.)

Bully for you, Land's End

In this second post I would like to give a tenative thumbs-up to Land's End for their customer service. Over the past 18 months, I've ordered 5 pairs of wool slacks from Land's End. The seam of the legs of three of the pairs of pants have started to split a little right where the front pocket connects to the seam. (FWIW, I am reasonably confident this is not due to my physical form putting undue pressure on the seam. I am borderline svelte.)

So I called them.

Without asking too many questions, their customer service lady (Carol) said why don't I just take the pants to a tailor and then call them up and tell them how much it cost to fix and they'll reimburse me. I think this is an acceptable outcome. I would prefer, of course, to have zero hassle associated with the pants (i.e., it would've been best if the seam didn't split). But not having to hassle with sending the pants to them and so forth is a considerable improvement over scenarios I had imagined.

Anyway, the thumbs-up is tenative because I don't yet have the reimbursement in my sweaty palms. Stay tuned.

Until the verdict is in, I remain ...

The Poster

Monday, July 04, 2005

Opening Salvo

Hello. It is high noon in blog country.
Today is the first day of the rest of this weblog.

On these pages you will have the opportunity to journey with me from one hobby or interest to another. As my whims change, so will the focus of the posts to follow. Which is not to say that there will be a steady stream of posts about, for example, happenings in the professional chess world followed by another steady stream of posts about, for example, the evils and dangers of central government and "democratically-elected governments" generally. I tend to be interested in more than one thing at a time. But my interest in one thing or the other wanes from time to time. So most likely there will be a steady stream of posts about Interest #1 happening at the same time as posts about Interest #2.

Looking forward to your thoughts, I remain ...

The Poster