From time to time I like to browse the listings in Sitepoint’s Marketplace, particualarly the Turnkey Websites page and mostly it’s amusing. Too many of the listings sound like this:
I was going to turn this site into a real money maker but am making so much money with my other sites that I just don’t have the time. There are 5 hojillion pages of “unique” content, it is custom coded in php, and you can make changes from a single file. I registered the domain five minutes ago so there is not much traffic yet but you can make 10% of every sale and it is fully optimized for public service ads on adsense. The domain is some-crappy-keyword-laden-dot-info-site-with-lots-of-dashes-because-godaddy-is-having-a-sale.info. The buy it now price is $200.
Well, I’m sold.
It seems like every payday, the day before my 401K makes a purchase in my index fund of choice, the stock market seems to inflate itself a bit. Maybe thats just me being paranoid because when I look at the numbers this does not seem to hold water. However, it seems like payday is always an up day for the Stock Market.
I own some stock in Rockwell Automation (for some reason) and today I noticed that the share price had dropped over $5 before noon. This represented over a $100 loss for me(mostly insignificant since this is not exactly a retire to live on the beach investment) so I did a little digging. Turns out that while revenues for the company rose 17% for the second quarter, net income is down significantly. I’m still trying to determine why but a spokesperson for the company said something about currency impacts (the unstable dollar?). So basically the company grows but because margins are off (and lets face it, the net profit was still $142 million) the stock is now being dumped like its poison. In all likelihood, its being sold off because major holders want to sell it off before other major holders have a chance. Oh Warren Buffet, where is your buy and hold mentality when we need it? Thats the way the world is, institutions only hold onto a stock to make a quick buck, which leads to people trading stock like they think they’re an expert trader, which makes the brokerages tons of money and on the other side this stock trading behavior leads companies to chase short term net gains to raise the stock price enough that when the CEO’s stock options vest he can cash out and take his pre-negotiated severance pay and retire to the beach (bastard, why didn’t I get an MBA from Harvard or even Stanford, I want my Golden Parachute!). Since I started writing this Rockwell Automation (ROK) has dropped another $0.30 per share. I had planned on cashing out my individual stock holdings at the beginning of the year and putting them in a Roth IRA but the stock market tanked on Jan 3 and I never got a chance(my portfolio lost about $1000 in January). Right now I am holding, hoping that it will go back up to its Dec 31 value but with crap like this happening I guess I shouldn’t hold my breath.
Maybe I’m too easily impressed by mumbo jumbo or this really is deep, but the passage that stood out to me the most while reading the Chronoliths was the one about how if you viewed World War II in reverse it took on an entirely different morality. First, the US signed a treaty with Japan and then bombed Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Then, Nazi’s pulled bullets out of the heads of emaciated Jews and nursed them back to health. That idea messed with me. I want to say though, that I really liked Chronoliths and I like Robert Charles Wilson. The only other book I have read of his was Spin but as soon as Axis comes out in paperback I am going to get it. I had to stop myself from buying his entire back catalog this weekend because I don’t have time to read it anyway.
April 15 people, get those 1040’s filed. I got mine done back in February, but then I got a $5000 refund so I was eager to get that to the good folks at the IRS. Am I bragging? Maybe a little. However, I think its foolish to wait till the last minute. If I owed five grand I would still want to get that taken care of because who needs that hanging over your head. Oh yeah, IRS, adjust the damn AMT for inflation, I’m about five years away from hitting it and I would like to put it off for awhile. Thanks so much.
When last we encountered that name, I called John Scalzi a hack and he descended from the A-List heavens to call me out on it. He’s a cool guy though and suggested that if I’m tired of the same old thing from the Old Man’s War universe then perhaps I should try The Sagan Diary since it is a complete departure from his usual form. It is, but I still didn’t like it.
Let me establish my credentials here. I have almost every novel John Scalzi has written in hardback. Normally I buy mass market paperbacks (used ones at that) because I don’t see the value in paying that much for something I will read once. However, I have all three OMW books, The Sagan Diary, The Androids dream, and even You’re Not Fooling Anyone … which I preorderded when the second edition was announced. I thought Old Man’s War was a really awesome book. So, its safe to say I am a fan.
However, I am not a literary critic. I’m not even qualified to write a review. I’m not even a very good writer. My background is in computers and while I have read a lot of science fiction in my life, I feel completely unqualified to comment on it. So, is the Sagan Diary a good book? Not a damn clue. I just didn’t like it. I think the diary format just didn’t work for me.
I wanted to like it. I wanted to write a fawning, sycophantic review, channeling Chris Farley in all his glory. Then John would have to love me, right? Well, no, but I did want to like this book. I like his blog. I like him as a person, or at least the person I perceive from having read his blog for the last 4 years. That’s why I buy all his books as soon as they are released, because I like him. I didn’t want his only impression of me to be that one guy he forgot about almost immediately who called him a hack. I’m sure lots of people call him a hack and hell, at one point I was the number six hit for the phrase John Scalzi is a one trick pony(sadly this is no longer true) and interestingly his own entry on the futility of starfucking a-list bloggers is the number one hit.
The Sagan Diary was boring. I read it in one evening, I probably won’t read it again. It was an interesting experiment. It was the first time I read something of his that didn’t sound like John Scalzi was all the characters. I hope he keeps that up. I hope that once he moves past Zoe’s Tale and The High Castle his publishers and bank account give him breathing room to grow as an artist. In the meatime something I am good at: John, if you are reading this, you keep asking for a wordpress plugin that will cache your blog to static html, I don’t know if this is exactly what you are looking for but check out WP Super Cache.
I’m in ur tubz, blockin’ ur adz
What that guy said. I have no problem with people who want to advertise on the internet, hell I’ve done it myself(not on this site). I have no problem if someone wants to block my ads though because I have no problem blocking someone else’s ads. I have no desire to be subjected to an annoying ad and if my ads are annoying you then by all means block them. I’m not going to try to sell anything to someone who is not interested in buying. I have been calling it Permission Marketing, but until I get a chance to read Seth Godin’s book, I have no idea if I am using his phrase correctly. However, if you arrived at my site looking to buy something I am selling(I’m getting a little far afield from straight advertising) then I believe we have an implicit agreement for me to show you my ads. Its all good.
Like it or not, its the convention here in the US. Recently at the Business of Software forum, some pissant little kid was shocked, shocked I say, that when he walked in one day, announced he was quitting, and his old boss didn’t fall all over himself to give him a recommendation. He said he would be available on an as needed basis. Like he was doing everyone a favor. Based on context, I’d have to say that the individual in question was probably in his early 20’s, just leaving his first job after probably six months, and had a very, very strong sense of entitlement. One might call him a Precious Little Snowflake. He is probably trying to job hop his way to a six figure salary by 25. He’s also probably the sort of asshole that can do it. I hope no one accidentally runs him over someday.
You don’t have to give notice. There is no law. Its courteous, not to the company you work for but to the people who are going to have to cover for you when you are gone until a replacement can be found. The company, especially if it is a big one, would cut your throat if they thought it would raise their stock price a nickel. Maybe you’re not even needed for those two weeks. I’ve given notice and then spent two weeks surfing the web, cleaning out my desk, saying goodbye, and going to my farewell lunch. My “transition” took all of a half hour to hand off my projects. That wasn’t the point though, I played by the rules and I left on good terms. If you feel like you owe nothing to anyone when you want to leave a job, they probably feel the same way about you.
Being a reasonable and enlightened man, I think of it from someone else’s perspetive. If my boss came to me at 1pm and told me that I was fired but could I finish out the day anyway. I would deem the rest of the day not worth the effort, tell my boss where he stick those four hours, and go home to drink myself into a stupor. But if he told me that in two weeks I was going to be laid off, I would be grateful that I at least would get another two weeks pay and use the time to find a new job. They know that they can’t afford to keep me on anymore but they will carry me for two weeks for whatever reason they have(maybe they want to work me like a mule, whatever, I’ve got to put food on the table).
My point is not two weeks notice. I give fuck all about two weeks(or whatever it is in your country, I understand its three months in some countries). My major problem is people who expect something for nothing because mommy and daddy never told them they were not special. My problem is the overwhelming sense of entitlement that seems to have gripped this country. Am I part of the last batch of young adults who actually is going to work for the things I want even if it means doing things I don’t want to do? Or am I an anomaly among my age group even?
Back before I was famous (well, technically I am still not famous but who cares) I wrote an Angry Rant about the economy. My lovely wife read it this morning and pointed out that if we don’t bail out the dumb asses who made stupid decisions then the economy would plummet to unfathomable depths and take me with it. I’ll concede the point and further admit that I failed to recognize the decline in the purchasing power of the US dollar as another reason gas is now $3.20/gallon (and around here its actually pretty cheap)(also, would you believe boneless, skinless chicken breasts cost more now than they did a year ago. Come on, chicken is a cheap dinner). I’m still angry and bitter about the entire situation of course. Yes, we need the power of the US government to save us but we need to be saved from the stupidity of the ordinary consumer and the greed of the financial and other industries that got rich creating this crisis. Where is this going? Well, I want to link to a concise explanation of our current housing crisis that I found informative though if you are part of the reason we have a housing crisis (the aforementioned ordinary consumer) I hold your intelligence in such contempt that I believe you probably won’t get it anyway. Here it is, courtesy of the Accordion Guy(he got it from somewhere else but he links to it in the top of his post).