Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

I didn’t even know stuff like this existed…

August 28, 2008

http://www.intrade.com

This is a predictions market, as in people trade contracts on predictions of things that will happen. These predictions include things such as when Bin Laden will be captured or killed, when we will launch an air strike on Iran, when the Yahoo CEO will resign, who the next Supreme Court Justice to depart the bench will be, or how much Damien Hurst paintings will auction off for.

The way it works is you start up and fund an account, and then you purchase contracts stating the outcome of whatever predictions you want to take a shot at. The prices that you purchase them at or sell that at are represented in points ranging from 0 to 100, which also serve as probabilities of that outcome. The more a single contract is being purchased, the more valuable it becomes. The more one is being sold, the less valuable it becomes. Also, the day’s news has an effect on the value of a contract. When the outcome of an event is known, the contract for the correct outcome is closed at 100, and you make a profit of 100 points minus whatever you paid for it. Contracts for incorrect outcomes are closed at 0 and you lose whatever you paid for it. You can also opt to sell your contracts at any time to make a profit or loss.

For instance, I checked a couple of hours ago to see what the prices are on contracts for McCain’s VP pick. At that time Romney’s price was the highest at around 55 or so and Tim Pawlenty’s price was about 40. Two hours later (with the announcement of his VP pick looming), Pawlenty’s contract has skyrocketed to 81 points and Romney has plummeted to 5.3. You have to wonder if people in the know are using this site to bid on predictions that they already know the outcome for. This could be a very good indicator of who McCain has picked as his running mate, considering we know he has already picked him and just has yet to reveal him. Heck, maybe even McCain is placing bids! Wouldn’t that be something?

According to Fortune magazine, the capture of Saddam Hussein was predicted by Intrade:

The traders in this case invested in a contract saying that Saddam Hussein would be “captured or neutralized” by the end of December 2003. That contract had bobbed along at a price of 9 (more later on how pricing works) for weeks. But on Thursday, Dec. 11, volume suddenly spiked, and the value of the contract leaped to 30, on no (public) news. Then, on Saturday night, Dec. 13, Hussein was captured in his spider hole near Tikrit. The announcement was made the following day–and the contract settled at 100. A piece of inside info about the progress of U.S. forces (or a bit of inspired guesswork) made those investors a bundle.

( Source -> )

If that was inside information, it probably came from pretty high up the chain. I remember reading a story for which one of the soldiers that found him was being interviewed, and I seem to recall that he said finding him was a complete surprise.

This is really all very interesting. Whenever I start making some more money, I might have to invest in the predictions market myself and see how it goes.

Movie Extras Find Excuse to Sue

August 27, 2008

Extras playing Nazis in Valkyrie, a movie about the failed plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, are suing United Artists for $11 million after falling out of a truck during filming. The extras were seated in the back of the truck leaning against a fold-down side-rail when the rail gave out and they fell to the ground as the truck was rounding a corner. Their reasoning for suing according to their lawyer, Ariane Bluttner:

“The studio knew the trucks were rickety,” Bluttner told SPIEGEL ONLINE. “There had even been an internal memo about the railings.”

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I’m wondering how they know there was an internal memo. Was this a memo that the extras received? If it was, then how do they have any basis to sue?

Nevertheless, here’s my advice to the extras: Next time you are in a WORLD WAR II-era vehicle, assume that it is “rickety.” I know you’re “actors” so your common sense doesn’t take you very far, but come on… Also, it’s probably not a good idea to lean against a rail that folds down. See, what those rails do is…fold…down…so if you put your weight against it, there’s a good chance that it might…FOLD…DOWN…even if you don’t mean for it to.

But whatever. What we have is more people just looking for an excuse to sue because they don’t have the integrity to take any responsibility for the dumb things they’ve done. They’re pathetic, and I hope they lose their suit. But knowing how these things go, United will probably settle with them out of court and give them more money than is even necessary to cover their lost pay and hospital bills, of which some were for only “bumps and bruises.” I wouldn’t even be surprised if all of that has already been paid for by United and these jerk-offs are just suing for more.

My blog was cited by a liberal blog!

August 23, 2008

By cited, I mean raped and left for dead in a ditch (shout out to Cloris Leachman). Following is the link to the complete post from http://www.village-idiot.org (Link Here). To sum it up, there has been controversy over doctors in California who were refusing to perform artificial inseminations on homosexuals because of their Christian beliefs. The author of the article at village-idiot discusses this issue and provides a link to a message board where people are defending the doctors’ rights to refuse service on a religious basis. The author then quotes a paragraph from my blog titled “Just the kind of ridiculous political correctness I was talking about…” in which I express my negative opinion of Muslim cab drivers who were refusing service to people with seeing-eye dogs or alcohol because it was against their religious beliefs. He/she then comes to the conclusion that a double standard is being set, even though the opinions cited in his/her blog to supposedly back this up are completely independent of each other and are expressed by different people who never make such a double standard argument:

All of this strikes me as a big case of religious and, let’s face it, ethnic cherry-picking: Muslims cannot refuse service on religion, but a Christian can? Apparently, the 1st amendment is only applicable to Christians? Since when?

( Source -> )

So I tried to post a comment on this person’s blog, but it just wasn’t working out for me because I kept on getting some 403 error (whatever that means). For now, I’ll just post my response to this blog here and reattempt to post it as a comment on the person’s page at a later time. I just wanted all of you to see my take on his/her article and my opinion on the misuse of the portion he/she quoted from mine. Also in the event that I am continually unable to post this response to his/her blog, hopefully he/she will return to my page and see it here. The response is as follows:

“Thanks for citing my blog! You did quite the job of twisting what I said into something completely different, however. Not only that, but you took it completely out of context. The post that this quote comes from has nothing to do with artificial insemination and is not focused on the issue of cab drivers refusing passengers on a religious basis.

What my post was about, as any readers smart enough to check sources will see, is how ridiculous it is that airports are catering to their Muslim cab drivers by installing foot baths in their bathrooms so that they can wash their feet before praying. There is no effort being made to accommodate other religions. In fact, airports or other businesses shouldn’t be trying to accommodate people on a religious basis at all.

My comment on cab drivers refusing passengers with dogs or alcohol was to show how people are going to absurd lengths to accommodate a religion that in principle will not accommodate to us.

You also make an illegitimate conclusion with this blog: that Christians or conservatives or whoever you’re referring to think it’s ok to refuse service based on religion but Muslims can’t. How do you come to that conclusion with the articles cited? They are completely independent of each other.

The first article was about doctors refusing artificial insemination to gays based on their Christian beliefs. At no point in that article was Islam even mentioned. Then you have my blog which makes brief reference to my negative opinion of Muslim cab drivers who refuse certain passengers based on religious belief. At no point in my blog did I say or even insinuate that I think it would be all right for Christians to do the same. Christians weren’t even mentioned in that regard. Your final link is to a message board in which the artificial insemination issue is discussed, and only one person mentions Islam or Muslims and not in a way which forms a double standard.

Once again, your conclusion was that someone was saying that it was fine for Christians to refuse service based on religion, but not for Muslims to do the same. The examples that you used to support this conclusion were that some people in California felt they could refuse service based on Christian beliefs and that some unrelated guy in Mississippi (myself) thought it was dumb that Muslim cab drivers were refusing passengers based on their religious beliefs.

It’s still up to you to explain to us who exactly is saying that it’s ok for one, but not the other. You just need to do so without taking people’s statements out of context and combining unrelated opinions as if they belong to a single person or group.

Feel free to keep using my blog as a source for your own blogs if you’d like. You can disagree with me all you want and express that disagreement in whatever way you deem appropriate, but I ask that you at least make honest use of my blogs to form legitimate points. Good day!”

Update (08/23/08): To add to it all, after reposting the person’s article here clearly showing the beginning and end of his/her work and stating what web site it came from and giving a link directly to that article, I received a message from the supposed webmaster of village-idiot.org saying that I violated his copyright. I’m no expert on copyright laws, but I took the post down and left only the link because I’m not trying to cause trouble. I suppose the issue is that I posted the entire article rather than a few quotes from it, so if you are reading this village-idiot webmaster, I apologize. I may update this again later using quotes and a summary of that post when I have more time. I also just tried to post my response to his/her blog again, but received the same 403 error. So now that this issue is resolved, hopefully the village-idiot webmaster will address my response to him that has been posted here so that we can discuss his article, with my blog as the forum for discussion.

Update (08/23/08): All right, now I have edited the beginning of this post to include a summary of the author’s post along with a quote from it. I’m also tired of typing he/she or his/her so I’m going to assume the person is a male until specified otherwise because “he” is one letter shorter than “she” and therefore less time-consuming to type. I formatted my citation exactly as he did mine and even kept the link to the article at the beginning of my blog. So now you have two links to the author’s page, and a properly formatted quotation, so there should be absolutely no problems now.

I forgot to mention this earlier, but the message from the author asking me to remove his article from my page set a deadline of 5:00 PM or else he would report me for my alleged copyright infringement. This implies that he intends to check my blog by 5:00 PM today to ensure that I have complied, which means that he will have another opportunity to address my response to his blog. I would hope that since he used my blog as a source for his article and misused it to form a false conclusion that he would have the courtesy to debate the issue with me.

Once again, if I committed any improprieties in the way that I used your article in this blog originally, I apologize.

Update (08/23/08): It’s well past 5:00, even on the west coast, and still no reply from village-idiot as to the way in which he distorted the portion he quoted from my article and formed false conclusions by combining unrelated sources. Of course, it is typical of liberals to avoid confrontations involving logic. It is even more typical for them to admit when they are wrong, and instead ignore valid points that would prove them to be so. Next time I’m at a different computer, I’ll attempt to post my response on his page so that he can make no excuses for ignoring it. I don’t really see him having much of an excuse at this point either, though.

Update (08/24/08): The village-idiot webmaster is a she and has responded to my blog in the comments section. The debate will continue there.