Saturday, May 28, 2005

Black-Scholes invented with ThinkTank

A new biography of Fisher Black notes that he did most of his work in the old outlining program, ThinkTank. Fisher is the "Black" in "Black-Scholes", the options pricing model used extensively in modern finance.

I loved that software too! It was available on the early Macintosh and the publisher, if I remember, ultimately phased it out in favor of another package called "More". Both titles were driven out of the market by the terrible outlining features of Microsoft Word. Outline processors were such a great idea; I wish somebody would resurrect it.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Cannibal food

Proof that the Internet makes new businesses possible:

Eat Hufu - The Healthy Human Flesh Alternative!

$12 will get you "Hufu Classic Strips", designed to feel, smell, and taste exactly like human flesh. Perfect for cannibals, serial killers, and others hoping to kick the habit with something guaranteed to be meat-free.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Tips on ordering wine at restaurants

Vino & Veritas - The Record - Etc.: "And one last price tip I picked up from the Wall Street Journal's wine writers: Restaurant owners will often price the wine they buy cheapest at wholesale as the second cheapest wine on the menu. Why? Because people generally don't order the cheapest wine and thus often turn to the second cheapest. Price that one higher, and you get a bigger marginal profit. Presto -- restauranteur as microeconomist!"

Real estate questions

Wired 13.05 asks you to Crack the Real Estate Code by guessing the effectiveness of 10 terms commonly used in real estate ads. I got them all right.

Note that the authors of the article, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, are notable now for their new book Freakonomics, which has been positively reviewed by Economist and others. They also publish a lively blog that keeps many of these questions up to date.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Re: Marginal Revolution: Why satellite radio doesn't make me happier

Marginal Revolution: Why satellite radio doesn't make me happier

Tyler needs to try Napster-to-Go. He complains that satellite radio has lots of stations, but none that are perfect for him. If he had a subscription music service like Napster-to-Go, he could pick exactly which music he likes and play just that.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Edge: online debate between Steven Pinker and Elizabeth Spelke

Edge hosts a debate on THE SCIENCE OF GENDER AND SCIENCE between Steven Pinker and Elizabeth Spelke, a Harvard psychologist who has been named one of America's Best in Science and Medicine.

Well worth reading, because both scientists are given time to carefully explain their positions, along with PowerPoint slides that you can see on the web.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Movies and Cheap Gas in Seattle

Cheap Gas - Seattle

More fun with Google maps. This one shows the location of cheapest gas stations in the area.

Also check Movies.

Chicago crime map

We need something like this for Seattle and Mercer Island. The Chicago crime map | uses Google's Map API to display graphically the location of every crime in the city.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Steven Pinker's Talk on line

I've seen him give this talk twice already, but if you haven't seen Steven Pinker discuss his most recent book, there's a video version on line at: MIT World � : Play: The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature

Thanks to Jason Hamilton for the headsup.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Babies Use Their Own Names To Help Learn Language

Babies Use Their Own Names To Help Learn Language: "Texas A&M University psychologist Heather Bortfeld and her colleagues tested babies by having them listen to sentences containing the pairing of one target word with the baby's own name such as 'Emma's cup is here.' The babies, Bortfeld explains, also listened to a different name paired with another word, such as 'Autumn's bike is here.' After the babies were exposed to the sentences, they were only allowed to hear the target word, 'cup' or 'bike.' The babies, Bortfeld says, preferred listening to the word that had followed their own names as opposed to the ones that had not. "

Bortfeld's research, which appears in the upcoming April issue of "Psychological Science," shows that babies use familiar words such as their names as a sort of "anchor" into the speech stream

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Yahoo ! Music and Napster

Yahoo's Music Rivals Sing the Blues: "But while the music service's opening day was free for users, it cost its competitors dearly. RealNetworks (RNWK ) and Napster (NAPS ), two companies that offer similar music subscription services, saw their stock fall by 20% and 27%, respectively, by the close of trading the following day. Meanwhile, Apple (AAPL ), the leader in online music with its iTunes MP3 downloading service, saw shares drop by as much as 7% before finishing the day off almost 3%. "

I guess I'm glad I didn't follow my advice and load up on NAPS or RNWK. But the S&P analyst quoted above is missing the whole point of Napster, which is the "to-go" aspect. Yahoo! doesn't do that, and it's not clear they can do that any time soon. Right now I don't see anything in Yahoo! Music other than a cheaper version of Rhapsody--great if you're plugged into a high-speed Internet connection, but not otherwise.

CNet: Gates says mobile phones will overtake iPods

Gates says mobile phones will overtake iPods | CNET

I agree. Remember a few years ago how Palm was the center of the universe for PDAs until technology figured out how to give the same experience in a phone. If you leave the driveway and you remember you forgot your Palm, you don't go back into the house to get it. If you forget your phone? If you forget your iPod?