December 31, 2003

!&$! MS Word

Can someone please tell me again, why does Microsoft Word need to connect to the printer when I quit? I'm serious. MS Word does all kinds of stupid things, including "connecting to the printer" when I start it up (can't it just use the regular print services like all other programs?). But when I go to quit it, it again displays a message "connecting to printer" as it takes it's own sweet time to quit. What a freaking piece of bloatware....

Posted by Tom Nugent at 04:32 PM | Comments (0)

Old computer games

OK, first off: I suck. I forgot to make a posting yesterday, despite my promise last week. I'll see if I can make two today, to make it up.

Does anyone remember the old Apple II game "Choplifter?" I think it was also made into an arcade game at some point. Well, there's a great freeware version of it for Mac OS X called Chopper. It really brings back memories. The game is well-designed and runs very well. I highly recommend it!

Posted by Tom Nugent at 08:49 AM | Comments (0)

December 29, 2003

Breast is best

There's an interesting article highlighting a recent controversy with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Large amounts of scientific research (see, for example the footnotes in this article) have indicated that breastfeeding is much healthier for babies than feeding them formula. The infant formula industry has crafted the public message as "breastfeeding makes you less prone to these problems..." whereas a research Dept. of Health and Human Services (DHHS) campaign ad was going to switch the message to "infant formula makes you more prone to these problems...." The infant formula industry lobbied the new president of the AAP very heavily, and got him to help prevent the DHHS from running the ads.

One point I found particularly interesting is that the World Health Organization (WHO) has an advertising code which prohibits any advertisements of infant formula. The WHO code has supposedly been adopted by most of the rest of the world, and so infant formula ads are banned in a manner similar to bans on ads for smoking in the US.

I haven't read the literature and so I don't know how strong the differences are in breastfeeding versus infant formula. But this incident does seem to be just yet another example of the sometimes unfortunately heavy influence of private interests on public policy. Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying that private interests shouldn't have an influence on public policy. I'm just saying that their influence is often unduly heavy because their "power" is concentrated in an organization, whereas the general public is more diffuse, and thus has less influence.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 11:52 AM | Comments (0)

December 28, 2003

Yearly letters

Elizabeth and I have a tradition (if you can call something that we do maybe 75% of the time "tradition") of sending out yearly cards to friends and family. We don't call them Xmas cards because, well, they don't go out before Xmas. Oftentimes they don't go out before New Year's. I think one year they went out in June. We just call them our yearly letters.

I'm wondering how people feel about letters like these. Holiday letters seem to serve primarily as a means of maintaining a tie, however tenuous, with friends and family. If you have distant friends that you haven't seen in years, getting an annual "update" on their lives at least helps you to feel like they haven't completely faded into the backdrop of your own personal history. But on the other hand, does receiving a mostly-impersonal letter (in the sense that the letters are usually a copy of a general letter, with maybe a single personalized sentence added on) really enhance or even maintain the ties that much? Do they make the recipient feel like the sender cares about them?

I don't know the answers to these questions. I just know that, for whatever reason, it feels "right" to send out a letter to the extended set of friends and family once every year or so. And it's nice to receive the letters to. It's unfortunate, but there simply isn't enough time in the day to maintain strong ties with lots of these people, but I do want to maintain some link. The letters are at least one way to keep the link alive.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 11:26 PM | Comments (0)

December 27, 2003

Welcome to Prison America

I almost missed my posting for today, but here it is, just before midnight.

I was reading the Daily Reckoning newsletter by Bill Bonner from December 23rd, and became angered at the story halfway through the letter titled "Coffee, Tea, or Handcuffs?" In this story, a journalist for an Australian women's magazine who was coming to the USA (again, after multiple earlier visits) for some interviews was effectively branded as a criminal upon touchdown at LA International Airport. Click on the link for the full story, but suffice it to say that this poor woman was treated reprehensibly. Perhaps she should have been turned away for not having the proper visa, but the treament she received was ridiculous. Is it true that we're now living in Prison America?

Posted by Tom Nugent at 11:55 PM | Comments (0)

December 26, 2003

Xmas is over

What should I write about today? Hmm... I guess I can talk about Xmas.

Our Xmas holiday went pretty well. We had a couple of friends over on Xmas Eve for dinner and games, and it was lots of fun. Xmas day itself was great. We opened our gifts, and took a nap, and played lots of games (I gave Elizabeth 5 games from FunAgain Games). A very relaxing and enjoyable couple of days overall.

I received three very special gifts -- special because they came from my unborn baby. :-) I received a book of fairy tales, a book of nursery rhymes, and a CD of children's music. So now I'll be prepared to sing to her all those songs that I forgot from my childhood.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 09:52 AM | Comments (0)

December 25, 2003

Merry Xmas!

Merry Xmas to all, and to all, a good morning. I write this brief missive on Xmas morning, before I've even opened my gifts. I'm blogging before gift-opening because I'm being such a great husband that I'm letting my (pregnant) wife sleep in a little longer. This is probably the second-to-last year where we're allowed to sleep in as long as we want on Xmas, before we have little rugrats who demand to be allowed to open their loot at 5am.

Doo do doo, hum de ho....La la lee da....

Hell, it's already been a half hour since I woke up - I can't wait anymore. Time to go jump up and down on the bed and scream "time to open the presents!!!!" ;-)

Posted by Tom Nugent at 07:43 AM | Comments (0)

December 24, 2003


There's a great quote about the financial markets (by Keynes, I believe) that goes like this: "The market can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent." And damn if they aren't testing me.

I've been convinced for over a year that the correction we saw in the markets from March 2000 to October 2002 is only the tip of the iceberg. Not only do the markets still need to get cut in half in order to get near reasonable values, but there are lots of reasons to expect that they won't be any higher 5-10 years from now than they are today.

I've been making that assertion for the last 10 months, and people will point out that the markets are, in fact, higher. But my point is not focused on time scales less than a year. My point is that buy-and-hold investing will (probably - nothing is ever certain) "disappoint" investors by making their money do nothing productive for a decade. There was a period in the 1960s and 70s where the markets went up and down and up and down, and then at the end of the period, the markets were exactly where they'd started. Buy-and-hold investors would have gone nowhere with their money in almost a decade.

I'll be writing much more about this topic, but right now, it's Xmas Eve and my mind is mostly not on topic.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 09:12 AM | Comments (0)

Once a day

I've decided that I need to write something in this blog at least once each day. That's right - once every 24 hours, I better write something, or else...or else...I'll get really mad at myself. Do you hear that, self? I'll get mad at you!

Of course, self is asking if this little scribbling counts for today or not...

Posted by Tom Nugent at 08:51 AM | Comments (0)

December 23, 2003

Look what I've done!

I've set up my very own blog - it's my precious. Yes, I just saw 2 of the LotR movies last weekend, so I've got Gollum on my brain. I don't normally talk that way.

I'm hoping to use this blog as a way to practice writing, since I don't do nearly enough.

Yay me!

Posted by Tom Nugent at 09:49 PM | Comments (0)