1.01.2005

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» MISC: Our copier was on the fritz
» TIP: Help me Help you
» MISC: Hunting for Cheney's Greatest "Hits"
» MISC: Trump, Stewart face off in verbal judo
» TIP: If you get the dreaded audit letter from IRS
» TIP: Keep your cash flowing
» TIP: Dance your way to a stronger relationship
» TIP: Ways to Watch Your Financial Weight
» MISC: The best part of OSCAR has nothing to do with awards
» MISC: What do immigrants and entrepreneurs have in common?

MISC: Our copier was on the fritz

so I put a note on it: "Service has been called."

When the technician told me he had to order parts, I added a second note: "Parts have been ordered."

During the next five days, when we had to use an older, slower copier on the other side of the building, someone taped a third note to the machine: "Prayers have been said." - RD

Category: C++ Quant > Random Walk > Jokes

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TIP: Help me Help you

via Oprah - Suppose you want a man to do something for you, and you've asked him, oh, a thousand times. He's promised he would, which is what's so frustrating - if he flatly refused, at least you'd understand why he isn't taking action.

He doesn't want you to remind him about what he needs to do, even though he keeps forgetting. Don't ask him to do a specific task ("Fix the drip in the shower") but to be in charge of solving the problem ("The leak in the shower is driving me crazy"). Offer to help him ("Tell me what tools you need, and I'll go get them for you")...

Category: C++ Quant > Random Walk

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MISC: Hunting for Cheney's Greatest "Hits"

Letterman's Top Ten Dick Cheney Excuses
  • Heart palpitation caused trigger finger to spasm
  • Wanted to get the Iraq mess off the front page
  • Not enough Jim Beam
  • Trying to stop the spread of bird flu
  • I love to shoot people
  • Guy was making cracks about my lesbian daughter
  • I thought the guy was trying to go 'gay cowboy' on me
  • Excuse? I hit him, didn't I?
  • Until Democrats approve medicare reform, we have to make some tough choices for the elderly
  • Made a bet with Gretzky's wife

You can understand why this lawyer fellow let his guard down, because if you're out hunting with a politician, you think, 'If I'm going to get it, it's going to be in the back.' -CraigFerguson

He is a lawyer and he got shot in the face. But he's a lawyer, he can use his other face. He'll be all right. -CraigFerguson

Category: C++ Quant > Random Walk > Jokes

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MISC: Trump, Stewart face off in verbal judo

via USAToday -

..."Having two Apprentices was as unfair to him as it was unfair to me," she told Newsweek. "But Donald really wanted to stay on."

Trump's blunt response asks Stewart to take responsibility for her "failed show."

"Your performance was terrible in that the show lacked mood, temperament and just about everything a show needs for success," he wrote. "I knew it would fail as soon as I first saw it - and your low ratings bore me out."

Ouch.

"Between your daughter, with her one-word statements, your letter writing and, most importantly, your totally unconvincing demeanor, it never had a chance - much as your daytime show is not exactly setting records," he wrote.

Then he really told her what he thought.

"Essentially, you made this firing up just as you made up your sell order of ImClone," said Trump, who claimed NBC did not intend to fire him on Stewart's show...

"The letter is so mean-spirited and reckless that I almost can't believe my longtime friend Donald Trump wrote it," she stated...

Trump fired back on CNBC's The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch, saying repeatedly that he is upset because he was "her number one advocate...and what does she do? She blames me for her show's failure."

Asked about Stewart's comments that Trump was to be fired from The Apprentice, Burnett, also appearing on Big Idea, said, "Lots of ideas are bounced around, and Martha had lots of ideas. My job is to sit and listen to them, but, really, why would NBC ever do that?"

Category: C++ Quant > Random Walk

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TIP: If you get the dreaded audit letter from IRS

via WSJ - It's the taxpayer's nightmare: Duking it out with the tax man. The Internal Revenue Service has stepped up its attempts to rake in more overdue taxes, and it isn't being shy about auditing more people and clamping down more frequently with tactics such as levies and even asset seizures when it thinks someone needs to cough up more money. IRS officials have particularly zeroed in on individuals making $100,000 and above. Last year, more than 219,000 people with incomes in that group were hit with an audit, up about 32% from the previous year...

With the IRS intensifying its crackdown, growing numbers of Americans could soon be facing a tough decision: Whether to fight back, or simply cry uncle and cut a check. While the notion of fighting the IRS strikes dread into the hearts of citizens everywhere, the fact is that many people actually stand to benefit by doing battle with Goliath. There's an array of options, ranging from a simple appeals process to taking the tax man to court...

The first step in deciding whether to fight an IRS challenge is to do a quick cost-benefit analysis. Among the key factors: How much money is at stake, how good your records are, how confident you are of winning, how complex the issue is -- and, if you need to hire a tax expert, how much that will cost... One piece of advice: Never sign a joint return if you suspect your spouse is breaking the law. Instead, consider filing separately. Because once you sign a return, you're generally on the hook if something goes wrong later, unless you can show you were an "innocent spouse" -- which can include proving that you didn't know, and had no reason to know, about any tax shenanigans. These cases are tough to win.

Whatever the case, if you get an IRS letter challenging something on your return and asking for information, "the worst thing you can do is to ignore it" and hope the issue will disappear... Once you respond, if the agency won't budge or seems to ignore your point, consider asking to speak to the auditor's supervisor, Mr. Dougherty says. If that doesn't work, consider other paths, such as:

  • APPEALS: This is an IRS unit where issues may be resolved by correspondence, phone or in person. Taxpayers who want a face-to-face meeting can get one, the IRS says... The IRS appeals office receives about 100,000 cases a year, and roughly 80% are resolved, says Bruce Friedland, an IRS spokesman.
  • IRS TAXPAYER ADVOCATE SERVICE: This is a good place to consider going if you've already tried regular IRS channels and feel that you are stuck in the bureaucracy... Even though it may seem counterintuitive to seek relief from the IRS itself, the "TAS" unit has drawn widespread praise from tax professionals for its independence and willingness to help taxpayers. In the year ended Sept. 30, taxpayer-advocate offices around the nation received roughly 200,000 cases...
  • TAKING IT TO THE COURTS: Most people choose the U.S. Tax Court (www.ustaxcourt.gov3) since you don't have to pay the contested tax up front in order to have your case heard... Some people prefer going to federal district court or the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (www.uscfc.uscourts.gov4) because they think their chances are better there. But these courts generally will hear tax cases only after you've already paid the tax and filed a refund claim with the IRS... If you do go to court, remember that your case and, potentially, sensitive financial details become a matter of public record..

WHEN YOU CAN'T PAY: If you're facing major financial woes, you have a few choices. You can ask the IRS to let you pay on an installment plan. Or, if you're in such dire financial straits that you can't pay everything you owe, consider asking the agency to compromise...

Don't even think of challenging the IRS if you plan to argue that paying taxes somehow is voluntary, or that wages aren't really income. Courts have consistently rejected these and other arguments. Some people who tried have been hit with fines of as much as $25,000. As surprising as it may seem, there is a small but highly vocal number of people who have been trying it, the IRS says. In fact, so many people have tried things like this that the IRS has compiled a list of dumb arguments you shouldn't even bother with. To study up, go to the IRS Web site and type "frivolous" in the search box.

Category: C++ Quant > Random Walk

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TIP: Keep your cash flowing

As long as you have sales, cash will flow, and as long as cash flows, Guy Kawasaki blogged, (a) you will have the time to fix your team, your technology, and your marketing; (b) the press won't be able to say much because customers are pouring money into your coffers; and (c) your investors will leave you alone because (i) they will focus on companies with weaker sales and (ii) they won't want to jinx your success.

You can blow all the smoke that you like about brand awareness, corporate image, and feedback from early adopters, but you either make it rain or you don't... here is the art of rainmaking

  • "Let a hundred flowers blossom." ...the dictum (from Chairman Mao) means that you sow seeds in many markets, see what takes root, and harvest what blooms...
  • See the gorilla... Daniel J. Simons of the University of Illinois and Christoper E. Chabris of Harvard University ran an experiment in which they asked students to watch two teams of players throwing basketballs. The students were told to count how many times one team passed the basketball to their own teammates. Thirty-five seconds into the video, an actor dressed as a gorilla entered the room, thumped on his chest, and remained in the room for another nine seconds. Fifty percent of the students did not notice the gorilla! If you want to make it rain, you have to see the gorilla markets in the mist, so to speak. Decades ago Univac was a leader in computers, but it believed that the market for computers was scientists; it did not see that the gorilla market for computers was business people. That's why everyone knows who IBM is and few people remember Univac.
  • "Sell," don't enable "buying." For example, these days an iPod is bought: people walk into the Apple store intending to buy it. By contrast, much to my continued disappointment, a Macintosh is still sold: the hardworking Apple store employee has to convince people that a Macintosh is fast, safe, easy-to-use, and runs the software that they need...
  • Find the key influencers. The higher you go in most organizations, the thinner the air. The thinner the air, the more difficult it is to find intelligent life... don't go after the biggest titles. Instead, go after the key influencers. They have humbler titles like "secretary," "administrative aide," "database administrator," or "customer service manager." They usually do the real work, so they know what products and services are needed, and the CXOs ask them for their recommendations. The logical question is now, "How do you find the key influencers?" The answer is that you ask people at the company to answer this simple question, "When there are problems, who does everyone go to at this organization?"
  • Go after "agnostics," not "atheists." Ahh, the reference account: big, rich, and prestigious. It is the high-hanging fruit that every rainmaker dreams of picking because closing this sale brings credibility to the organization and makes every sale thereafter easier... By definition, reference accounts are already successful, and therefore probably fat, dumb, and happy. They are the least likely to try something new and different. Sure, give them your best shot--once. But then cut your losses and move on to the "agnostics." In the mid-eighties, the atheists denied the Macintosh religion, and they refused to convert to the Mac. The agnostics--people who had never used a personal computer before--were the rich and fertile market for Apple.
  • Make prospects talk. If prospects are open to buying your product or service, they will usually tell you what it will take to close them... Most salespeople can't do this because (a) they're not prepared to ask good questions; (b) they're too stupid to shut up; and (c) they don't know their product or service well enough to know whether it can in fact fill these needs. When it comes to rainmaking, there's clearly a reason why God gave us two ears but only one mouth.
  • Provide a safe, easy first step. Unfortunately, "unsuccessful rainmakers" (an oxymoron?) make it hard for prospective customers to adopt their products or services. I've been guilty of it myself--for example, asking Fortune 500 companies to throw out all their MS-DOS machines in favor of a new IT infrastructure based on Macintoshes. What can I say? I was young then... If your prospects have to jump through loops to adopt your product or service, then your must convince them that doing so is worth the effort.

Category: C++ Quant > Random Walk

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TIP: Dance your way to a stronger relationship

via Oprah - The best way to seduce a man the first time is to let him know you're interested-but not easy-with the word maybe. Maybe you should get together, maybe you'll have a drink with him, maybe you'd like to see his place. There's enough yes in maybe to keep a man from feeling rejected and enough no to keep him challenged.

If it's a long-term relationship, the approach is different, but you'll do well if you still think of it as a dance. Get him to snuggle, kiss, and play but once you are there, let him take the lead. Whether it's a date or your 30th anniversary, a man likes to think it's his idea.

Category: C++ Quant > Random Walk > Opportunity vs Trap

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TIP: Ways to Watch Your Financial Weight

via WSJ - Want to get a better grip on your investment portfolio and your overall finances? Try doing the splits. Your goal: To divvy up your money in a slew of different ways, so you look at your financial life from a variety of angles. To that end, try these 10 simple calculations.
  • Stocks vs. Bonds. Start by figuring out your portfolio's basic split between stocks and more conservative investments, like bonds, money-market funds and certificates of deposit. This is the biggest driver of your portfolio's risk and return...
  • Taxable vs. Tax-Sheltered. Next, calculate how much you have in your regular taxable account and how much in tax-sheltered accounts, such as 401(k) plans, individual retirement accounts and Roth IRAs... if you spend your Roth's investment earnings or you pull money out of any other type of retirement account, you could get slapped with income taxes and tax penalties.
  • U.S. vs. Foreign. ...A decent helping of foreign stocks is critical to a well-diversified portfolio, so I would aim to have 25% or 30% abroad...Consider 2005. Sure, both U.S. and foreign stocks climbed. But there was a huge disparity in performance, with the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index up just 4.9%, while Morgan Stanley Capital International's Europe, Australasia and Far East index leapt 13.5%.
  • Large vs. Small. ...Three-quarters of the U.S. market is accounted for by the big blue-chip stocks in the S&P 500, with smaller companies accounting for the other quarter... If you're an investment junkie, also diversify your foreign stocks. Begin with a core position in a foreign fund that owns large companies in developed markets. Next, tack on exposure to small stocks, through an international small-cap fund, and small markets, through an emerging-markets fund.
  • Growth vs. Value. ...You really want to own both types of stocks. My advice: Purchase a total-market-index fund. That will give you exposure to all U.S. stocks -- large, small, growth and value -- in a single mutual fund.
  • Active vs. Indexed. When you invest, there isn't just the risk you will lose money. There's also a chance the markets will roar ahead -- and your investments will be left behind. To gauge your "active risk," tote up your holdings of actively managed mutual funds and individual stocks and bonds. Want to reduce the risk of market-lagging performance? Stash more of your portfolio in index funds, thus locking in the performance of the underlying markets.
  • Financial vs. Real. Financial assets, like stocks and bonds, offer a low-cost, convenient way to build wealth over the long run. But these investments will likely suffer steep short-term losses if inflation takes off. In that scenario, however, you should see decent gains from real assets like gold, commodities and real estate. Inflation-indexed bonds, while technically a financial asset, would also fare well. The lesson: While conventional stocks and bonds should be your core investment, consider buying yourself some inflation protection by allocating a little money to real assets.
  • Assets vs. Liabilities. Add up the value of your home and all your investments, and then compare that to your total debts, including your mortgage, student loans, credit-card balances and auto loans...

Category: C++ Quant > Random Walk

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MISC: The best part of OSCAR has nothing to do with awards

via About - Winners of Sunday night's Oscars goodie-bags, typically valued at over $100,000, had better not try any stunts or costumes to avoid paying income tax on them, warns the IRS. The gifts, often valued at over $100,000 are taxable income and must be reported, warns IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson.

"As the world watches the glamour and glitz of the Academy Awards, it's important to keep in mind that movie stars face the same tax obligations as ordinary Americans," said Everson in a press release. "We want to make sure the stars 'walk the line' when it comes to these goodie bags... We just want to make sure no one crashes into the tax code"...


via OttawaSun - The Academy Awards as a whole are a rather tiresome affair. They've always been more about a few fun moments sandwiched between a bunch of serious stuff not that many people care about. Still, it's hard to stay away.

Seriously, did you see... And what was with the gross colour of J-Lo's dress? In that spirit, here are few highlights...

MOST ANNOYING AUDIO DECISION, EVER: Adding music to acceptance speeches. Since anyone who's seen the Oscars associates music with prompting the winner to wrap it up, it was, you know, sort of distracting...

CUTEST, LUCKIEST COUPLE I WANT TO HATE BUT CAN'T: Brokeback's Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams. Finding your soul mate, having a baby and snagging twin Oscar nominations, all from one movie? C'mon!

EARLIEST TEARS OF THE EVENING: Felicity Huffman, who welled up during the red carpet pre-show while watching a tape of her Desperate Housewives co-stars wishing her luck. "Thank you, you ruined my makeup," she told her interviewer.

Category: C++ Quant > Random Walk

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MISC: What do immigrants and entrepreneurs have in common?

via TheMonkAndTheRiddle - ...Both grand-parents left their homelands for a new and unknown world. It was a courageous bet on a vision, simple faith. I see a common gene among immigrants and entrepreneurs who strike out from the pack to pursue their dreams. I admire people who are willing to bet everything on a belief. Some of these risk takers, whether immigrants or entrepreneurs, have a profound impact on what happens in the world. They place bets on the future, often against fantastic odds. I see heroism in that... -RandyKomisar

Category: C++ Quant > Random Walk

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