Sunday, April 27, 2008

More evidence you should just eat food with vitamins rather than take supplements

For example, observational studies of people who eat foods rich in antioxidants like vitamins A and E and beta-carotene have suggested these substances improve health. But well-designed clinical trials found increased death rates among people who take them as supplements. And while low vitamin C doses can suppress harmful free radicals, very high doses promote their formation. The initial promise that vitamin E could protect against heart attacks and cancer failed to stand up to scientific scrutiny, which instead found that it increased the risk of heart failure.

Here

Friday, April 25, 2008

Predictions I have

....the new 3G iPhone is going to be a complete game changer and everyone will want to have one.

I have spent the last 4 months using nothing but a 3G Verizon Aircard to access my internet. It's a device that slips into the side of my computer. It has a phone number, but it's not a phone. Instead, it connects to Verizon's network to access the Internet.

While it's not as fast as a home cable modem connection, it's plenty fast. You Tube videos, no problem. Do I get impatient with download speeds? No. Only when you need to download a 200MB file do you even notice.

When they put one of these in the iPhone, people will HAVE to have one. Combine that with all of the new programs that are being developed for it, and the sky's the limit.

The wildcard is GPS. I wouldn't be surprised if the new iPhone's GPS is a breakthrough for a phone. Combine 3G internet and a solid GPS, and it will be the killer device.

I might even prefer it over my Blackberry.....

Note: I don't just predict these things out of thin air. When I need to know what's going to happen, I go to MacRumors.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Most overrated game show ever?

People love Deal or No Deal. I don't know why. Granted it's suspenseful as someone makes or loses thousands in mere seconds. But what I can't stand is that there is an illusion of skill to the game.
The game of odds, hosted by Howie Mandel, calls for a contestant to predict the amount of cash contained in any of 26 sealed briefcases. The top prize for guessing correctly is $1 million.
Predict? Picking the boxes is completely random. It pains me to see contestants agonizing over which box to pick. They're all the same. If you're picking based on anything other than which briefcase girl you like the most, you're wasting your time.

And the offers are similarly uninteresting to me. They're always just slightly higher or lower than the expected value (or average value) of the briefcases left. When you decide to accept or reject the offer, you're really just deciding if you like a guaranteed payout or you like a high variance payout.

Anyway the fact that they turn that spectacle into a half hour or an hour is simply painful to me.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

What I emailed a friend about real estate

He asked if he should buy a specific house, knowing he had roommates but might leave that city in a year:

Here is my standard advice I would give to most anyone in that situation:

Short answer - I only buy houses that are easily rented out well above the mortgage payment. Without even knowing anything about the one you're talking about, the fact that it's two bedrooms suggests it's likely not profitable. Also, a rental payment on a similar house is likely lower than a mtg payment. Tax breaks and the "building equity" arguments are far exaggerated, while the hassles of home ownership are underemphasized. And there are very high transaction costs.

Also, the outlook for the market is still bad. The downside risk outweighs the upside potential.

So short answer I would hold off right now.....but I often give that advice and ppl buy anyway.....there's a certain emotional appeal to owning a house that people are willing to make an unwise financial decision for, so I understand if you buy anyway....

Monday, April 14, 2008

Final warning

Contribute to your Roth IRA tonight or tomorrow!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Loudest cheering I've ever heard

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

One of the benefits of being in KC....

You can drive 40 mins to Lawrence and watch the championship in Allen Fieldhouse. It's just on TV here but it's just as loud as a home game. They have the band (no doubt the freshman who didn't get to go to San Antonio), the mascot (surely a backup) and the student section.....
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Rails vs. trucking

World's largest truckstop.....passed on the way from Iowa City to Bettendorf in between endless farmland

This weekend instead of flying back to Dallas from Kansas City, I visited friends at universities across the Midwest. I had a blast (colleges in the middle of nowhere sure can party, especially when it's not freezing for the first weekend in a long time). On the way around in my rental car, I kept passing trucks. Working for a railroad this reminded me about all the thinking I've been doing about how railroads should replace more trucking.

When I see stories like this about the trucking industry arguing it needs this or needs that, I get angry. While railroads, the environmentally friendly way to transport goods, have to spend billions on their rail network, trucks get to use the roads for free. This is inherently unfair and bad for the country. Rails have many advantages, but trucks have flourished against their disadvantages - primarily that rail can't get everywhere and often takes longer, especially for short distances.

In an ideal world rail would transport much more cargo and trucks would be relegated to short distances and areas without rail. It may be coming, especially if fuel stays this expensive and even more so if we pass climate control legislation. But for now, we just have to be angry at that trucker who won't get out of the left lane despite going below the speed limit....