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The Cody Blog: March 2006

Friday, March 31, 2006

Hitting That K&C Wave Tonight

If you're anywhere near a cable outlet today (you know, one of the 1.6 billion TVs hooked up around the word), turn to CNBC (funny that we don't "turn" channels anymore) at around 5pm EST to check out today's Kudlow & Company.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

LLT: Don't Take Life So Seriously All the Time

I couldn't find the map. Rod had told me where it was. It belonged back on top of the filing cabinet. But it wasn't there.

I levered myself down in a squat and shoved the cabinets away from the wall. Voila (you say viola, I say voila...I once dated a very nice Muslim woman from Albania named Viola. I hope she's doing well...I digress), the map had fallen behind the cabinet.

I reached to it and, stretching as far as I could, I clasped the corner of a page with between my ring and pinky fingers. I pulled. A four by four inch piece from the front page of the map was now in my hand. Oh man.

It's my second week on the job at Adamson Appraisal, and my boss, Rod Adamson is not going to like his zoning map of Sierra Blanca torn. My stomach drops and I feel my forehead go cold as the sweat beads up. I try reaching the map from the other side of the cabinets and I easily pull it out.

But it's not in good shape. Not that it's trashed, you know, but it's got creases and that big tear off the front page.

I'm devasted. It's my second week at my first "professional" job. Oh, I'd worked for my father at his animal hospital, starting at $1 per hour when I was six years old washing syringes (they're disposable now of course) and cleaning cages and so on and I'd worked at Pan-O-Rama, the coolest job a high schooler could ever have I do have to say, doing maintenance and gardening and cashiering and stuff at the local mini golf course. And here it was, my ninth day on the job in my first summer out of high school and I just messed up my new boss' (who is a bit of a perfectionist and serious about having things neat, I might add) map. Oh, man.

He walks in from getting his hair cut (He once asked me after a haircut I happened to be particularly proud of, "Cody, did you MEAN to get your hair cut like that?" Nice one.) and I bring the map out to the front office to meet him.

"Rod, uh, I'm so sorry. I messed up the map," I say weakly, meekly, hoping he's not going to be too upset or even fire me.

But he was just like, "Oh, man. All well. Let's go shoot some nerf hoops and blow off some steam."

And as I followed him into what eventually became my office as Rod guided me through lots of hard work and discipline to becoming a Registered Real Estate Appraiser over the next couple summers and Xmas and spring breaks, I told him I was confused by his mellowness about this messed up map.

"Hey, Cody, you know what? You just can't take life too seriously all the time."

He's so right. And I do have to say, I need to work on this one (including recognizing the fact that saying I need to "work" on not being so serious is indeed part of needing to chill out. And what's with the "needing" word too, eh?)

And with that Life Lesson Thursday, I think I'll get up off this desk and shoot me some darn nerf hoops. I need practice anyway, seeing as I still owe Rod eighteen-billion-trillion pieces of gum from past nerf hoop free throw losses.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Wanna Fight Starvation? Try to Make Some Money!

The UNA-USA E-Action Network (aaveryt@unausa.org) continues to send me this evil propaganda about the hurtful UN:

Dear CODY,
Now that the blueprint for a new UN Human Rights Council has been adopted with the near-unanimous support of the international community, it is vitally important to the success of the new body that the United States - one of the lone dissenters - fulfill its pledge to work cooperatively to make the Council as strong and effective as possible.

Elections to select the first members of the Human Rights Council will be held on May 9th, and the first meeting is scheduled to be convened on June 19th. Full US participation in the Council's inaugural session will be critical, as important decisions will be made regarding working methods and procedures. However, to date, the United States has not announced its candidacy.
TAKE ACTION NOW by sending letters to President Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and UN Ambassador John Bolton, urging them to immediately announce the United States' intention to seek membership on the Human Rights Council, and calling on them to lead efforts at the UN to deny membership to serial human rights violators.

I sent them this reply (they didn't answer me last time, btw):

You guys really upset me. Please go work to make some money off those poor people in the places you purport to want to help such that real, self-sustaining virtuous markets can be created. And stop creating more bureaucracy.

Changing the wording of your convoluted charter isn’t productive, okay? Quit wasting money, time…and life.

What's the point of sending a meaningless email to some sold out politicians asking them to endorse something that doesn’t even make any sense to begin with (I’m a pretty smart guy, but can you please explain to me how this email is going to help defend a child’s individual rights in Botswana or a farmer’s right to his land in South Africa.)?

I think I’d rather bust my tail, work 90 hours a week trying to make money in this economy to create wealth and value and systems that will indeed create wealth and markets that will help those individuals you say you want to help. Why don’t you go invest, work hard, employ people, instead of asking me to send this stupid email to some bureaucrat hoping he’ll create new bureaucracies to employ bureaucrats.

Seriously. Enough already. The UN is busted, perhaps in principle, and isn't fixable.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Even Though Feeling Old Feels Old

That whole "Oh, waa, poor me, I'm old" thing is all cliched and worn out. Too many Dana Carvey knockoffs perhaps. Maybe it was cliched before Dana anyway.

But at the risk of being cliched, man, am I feeling old today. And it's because I played basketball yesterday. Hey, now, it's not because I can't play hoops well anymore (Oh, I can still dunk, punk). No, I'll have to take a dribble down a 3 on 2 memory lane to get there.

Last summer I took up tennis, and I took it up hard. I was playing five or six times a week, getting up at dawn to play or even going out and practicing serves if I couldn't find anyone to play with. I was eating right and in pretty good shape and I felt good about that. But in December, I tweaked my bad ankle doing something of nothing on the sidewalk.

Bad, usually a relative term, being especially relative in this case, as I've full-on sprained my left ankle more than a dozen times. And that's my good ankle. Because I've sprained my right ankle more than a dozen times too. And I shattered it into six pieces and had a screw in it coming around the left end against Tularosa on a quarterback keeper in 8th grade. And then I shattered into six pieces and had two pins in it in after playing through a broken growth plate in 11th grade. Would you believe there was one time I was playing in a 3-on-3 tournament in Roswell and I sprained both my ankles and came back the next day to play anyway. And my right ankle got stung by a bumble bee before the first game? As George Carlin might say, that left ankle might be my good one, but it's important to remember that apparently, by elimination, that ain't saying much.

With all that injurious history, tweaking my ankle and having it go grapefruit on me doesn't make me feel old either. Stay with me though, it's connected. I'll come back to it.

So after a couple months off, I started playing tennis again a few weeks ago. And started eating right again. And though I've not been in town enough to have been playing as much tennis as I'd like, I'm feeling in pretty decent shape. And I'm watching what seems like an endless loop of amazing highlights from what I hear the CBS announcers, including Billy Packer, say is the greatest tournament in NCAA history. And I'm thinking back to when I painted KSU (let's face it, my pops made me paint that one) and UNC (I was ALL about wanting to be like Mike when he was at UNC) on my backyard slab of pavement that served as our court. And I'm remembering watching in awe and falling over the back of the couch in shock as Lorenzo Charles slammed in the winning shot in whatever year that was. And I'm remembering how I actually used to wear basketballs out in my backyard during the summer. And I'm remembering practicing that spin move, over, and over, and over and over. You know that one where you cross the fool up at the top of the key with a spin on the fast break. You can pass out of that move too, you know. To the guy trailing you on your opposite side. Sweet.

And I remember playing in the rain. Shoveling snow to open up the court. Sleeping with my basketball. Always having one in my truck (oh, not the truck again!). Sneaking into the gym. Sneaking out at night to shoot at the school.

I’m remembering the day I arrived at Blinn College to play basketball at that juco in hopes that I might some day make it D-1. That was the dream after all. That’d been mainly what I’d wanted. Oh, sure I’d always dreamed of making it in the NBA and making millions playing hoops. But I’d never believed I’d be good enough to make it there. Looking back now, of course, I know this to be the primary reason I failed to make it to NBA. You only go as far as you dream, after all. Look at this, a Life Lesson Thursday on Monday!

So I’m remembering showing up in late August at Blinn and sweating it out in that tin barn of a gym with some big fans at either door to shovel the 90 degree, 99% humidity from outside a few feet into the 98 degree 99% humidity inside the gym. And dropping from 165 to 159 pounds everyday that first week there. Because I wanted to play hoops, man. I wanted to go D-1.

I remember the day the good coach McGloughlin gave me my sweats the day I made D-1. I remember playing in the Pit, on ESPN. I remember scoring my first point in an NCAA game. I remember how much I hated sitting on the bench. I remember hearing Coach Bliss break reality to me when, in the midst of a five game losing streak, he announced to the team, “The whole line up is up for grabs – even the walk ons.” I remember the instant resentment I had for the scholarship players that only grew from that point on.

I remember how much it hurt my pride when the first time the crowd chanted, “Co-dy, Co-dy, Co-dy”. I remember striving to be known for being the hardest working Lobo on the team. I remember being so proud when the Coach Bliss asked a teammate, “Would you be able to get away with that when Cody’s covering you? No, godammit, is right!” I remember getting in trouble for my grades, as I stopped doing school work during that first semester on the team. I still regret that.

I remember the dream slipping away as the season wears on and I never get in the game. I remember getting punished and having the whole athletic office at UNM in an uproar because I told the press what was in my heart about how much I hated the chant and that I thought I deserved a chance to play. I remember the pain in my heart when I had to let it all go. I remember wondering if I should go to Europe and try to play professional over there. But I’d made it to the NCAA. I’d made D-1.

And so yesterday, for the first time in a very long time, I went out to play hoops. And yeah, I could dunk (though barely! Sheesh!). And, yes, I got hurt (can’t look left today). But what made me feel old is that, as I hit the top of the key one time and did that spin move against an imaginary Rodman, I realized I’m beyond peaking in basketball. No matter how hard I might try, I would never be as good as I was in the past. Makes me feel sorta…old.

Friday, March 24, 2006

K&C Surf's Up!

What a blast hitting the waves on Larry Kudlow's show with John Rutledge, Barry Ritholtz, and Herb Greenberg. I have to say I had to pinch myself as the credentials of those guys dawned on me as the camera came on and I realized that I know them all outside of the show even. Pretty darn exciting, really.

Anyway, the surf is up, indeed, so get those VOD surfboards ready, and click here.

LLT: Don't Demoralize the Public

Last night, Barry Ritholtz and I stood on the side of the set as Larry Kudlow opened his show with a segment about the FCC and censorship of the airwaves. Several times in the discussion, Larry asked why, regardless of whether the FCC has the right or not to censor, CBS is putting a show on that entails teen orgies in the first place.

It got me thinking: why do I cuss on my blog?

After the dude from the Ayn Rand Institute's commentary (a not for profit institute, I might add, which makes it one of the single most hypocritical institutions in the history of hypocrisy) one of the points I wanted to make during that discussion was that, by far, the most popular sites on the Internet are indeed sites like aol.com, yahoo.com, google.com, cnn.com and so on, none of which stray very far from what most Americans (including the FCC) would consider decent.

Larry's comments made me think back to when I was playing high school basketball and my coach's son would be around us players all the time. I loved -- heck, love -- that kid to this day. But I remember I sometimes would feel ashamed when I'd cuss in front of him. I don't cuss in front of kids. More to the point, I've long argued that, unless it's personal in nature, anything you say you should be able to say in front of anyone -- kids, your girlfriend's mom, whomever. You know what I mean? I usually say that to people when they use a racial slur in front of me: "Hey, that's cool if you want to say that. But I hope that I don't accidentally call you out about it next time we're playing hoops in Harlem."

So the more I thought about Larry's point that we "shouldn't demoralize the public", the more I got to thinking that there's not much reason to cuss on my blog. At least not unless there's an actual point to the cussing itself. It's not like I can't keep it clean and still make all my points.

So that's this week's Life Lesson Thursday. And yes, I know it's Friday. But I couldn't get back to write this last night, as I had a business dinner straight from the studio.

And technically, this could be considered the FIRST ever pure Life Lesson THURSDAY. Because I LEARNED this one just yesterday. On Thursday. LLT indeed.

CW Quoted In the WSJ

Parts Makers For Telecoms Weather Storm
...Figuring out AT&T's expected savings isn't that simple. A lot of the savings will come from employing 10,000 fewer workers and shuttering customer-service and network-operation centers. By 2009, the company expects to have saved $800 million to $1.1 billion on capital expenditures, according to a March 6 presentation it made to analysts and investors. But to integrate the companies, the new gargantuan expects to spend the same amount on capital equipment -- $800 million to $1.1 billion -- over the same period.

"You can label the upfront stuff one way and the capital savings another way, but the fact of the matter is that they are going to have to be spending," says Cody Willard, principal of CL Willard Capital, a New York technology hedge fund. He says he hasn't changed his shareholdings in equipment makers such as Juniper Networks Inc. and Tellabs since the deal was announced....

Click here to read the full article.

Clip from last nights Kudlow & Co. appearance coming soon.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Catch the K&C Wave!

I'll be on Kudlow & Company tonight at around 5:00pm EST. Bring your (channel and Internet) surfboard.

Does Death Always Kill Morality?

Math Murders
By JIM HOLT New York Times
Published: March 12, 2006
Counting the dead is a paradoxical business. Suppose I told you that around 150 million people have died over the last century in wars, genocides, man-made famines and other atrocities. This number might evoke in you a certain horror. But it is, of course, only a wild guess. Its very vagueness lends it an air of unreality. Yet what purpose would be served by making it more precise? Where mass death is concerned, the moral significance of scale seems to be one of those things that our brains aren't equipped to handle. A single life may have infinite value, but the difference between a million deaths and a million and one strikes us as negligible....

....Raw death numbers may not be a reliable index of evil, but they still have value as a guide to action. That, at least, is the common-sense view. It is also part of the ethical theory known as utilitarianism, which holds that sacrificing x lives to save y lives is always justified as long as y is greater than x. This utilitarian principle is often invoked, for example, in defense of President Truman's decision to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which killed between 120,000 and 250,000 Japanese civilians, on the assumption that the death toll would have been worse had the war been prolonged.

Yet some thinkers (like the British philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe) have questioned whether, morally speaking, numbers really count. In a choice between saving 5 lives and saving 10, they ask, why should we be dutybound to act in behalf of the greater number? Because, you say, it would be worse for 10 people to die than for 5 people. They reply: Worse for whom? Arithmetic misleads us into thinking that deaths aggregate the way numbers do. Yet in reality there are only individuals suffering. In a dilemma where the deaths of one group of people or another is unavoidable, why should someone have to die merely by reason of being in the smaller group?...

Lots of difficult morality questions in this well written article. No easy answers.

When I quit my first job on Wall Street back in 1998, I went backpacking around Eastern Europe to see capitalism rising and to write a novel. I wrote the novel mainly as training since I wanted to become a writer. I'd not been published back then and though I sent query letters to about a hundred agents and publishers, I got nothing but rejections. My parents and a few friends read the novel, and I hope they have a copy of it somewhere, because I don't anymore. I need to rewrite the thing anyway though, and I am going to do so probably next decade.

Apropros my comments about giving away the plotline before consumption, I suppose I should tell you to stop reading here if you really think you'll remember to read the book and what the plot is in ten years.

Anyway, the book is about Solomon Reay, a man searching for his morality and his conflicted feelings about altruism vs. selfishness as a fundamental premise in his moral code. The conflict comes to a head when his daughter is held captive by a man sent to kill the protagonist. The killer starts shooting a Hassidic family that happens to have stumbled onto the scene and Solomon realizes that he can try to save the family by tackling the shooter and risking his daughter's life. The plan fails and the shooter kills Solomon's daughter and then the gun goes off and kills the shooter as Solomon tackles him.

Though he resolves the mystery of who wanted him dead and why, the story ends with Solomon going crazy. He ends up being eaten alive by ants in an abandoned cemetary in rural Texas.

No easy answers.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Who Really's Trying To Kill Tony?

I hate movie previews. I hate book covers. I hate learning about content I'm about to consume beyond the very general topic and perhaps a respectable review or two.

You know what I mean. Like those movie trailers that go "She was a mistress who wanted her husband dead. But then she fell for him again. She couldn't find the killer her lover had hired. Until she caught her husband in bed with the would-be killer. Death to Romance at a theatre near you." And they're showing you clips of the characters, the settings, the clues. Who decided that was a good selling technique? It's this very phenomenon that is part of the reason I can't sit through but three or four movies a year at the theater. Because you drop a quarter on the movie and snacks and then impatiently wait through the first hour and a half worth of the movie that delineates on the parts of the plot you've already learned.

Another thing that kills me in movies and TV is the utter insulting formulaic crutches that most directors and writers lean on. You know when you're watching a sitcom and you realize 3 minutes into it that you already know who's going to almost sleep with whom and who'll be forgiving whom and the only question is the props around which it will all get resolved?

Or the 'leave the camera focused on the prop left behind in the movie scene that will come back to haunt the protagonist' trick? Okay, great, thanks for telling me how the movie's going to end! Augh!

I'm going to speculate on here what I think is going on with the Sopranos storyline this season. Stop reading here if you don't want to know some of what's currently going on in show. You're forewarned.

One of the reasons I like the Sopranos (boy would my editors HATE the "lede" of this post and its Lez Zeppish rambling on) so much is because it's always done so smartly. It respects its audience enough to not dwell too much on the obvious. And I think it gave some subtle clues to a sideplot coincident with the Tony's realities storyline.

You know when that one white guy doctor walks into check on Tony and he sticks his hand in Tony's chest. What's with that whole repeated dialogue where Meadow keeps asking probing, almost doubtful questions of the dude. And then she asks him the name of Tony's antibiotics and he says one thing. And then Anthony gets in trouble for forgetting Tony's medication and it's another name. That doctor was a fake, man, sent in there by that one fat dude who's been hinting that if Tony is dead he'd be the man.

Just sayin' and speculatin'.

An Honor and a Blast on Kudlow & Company

K&C last night...
Larry and I went off on socialism -- even getting down to the fundamental premise of whether communities should contract out franchises.

You can watch the clip via true IPTV, from any Wi-Fi enabled, EVDO enabled, cable-modem enabled, DSL enabled, FTTX-enabled PC, Mac, Treo, Tablet PC, Linux machine, Internet TV, by clicking here.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Video Distribution on CNBC Today

Just got tagged for Kudlow & Company again tonight. Check it out starting at 5pm EST, though I'll probably be on around 5:30pm EST.

Monday, March 20, 2006

CW in FT: Shout it from the laptops: convergence is back!

How about some on-demand written words?

Inside curve
At last! Convergence is here
Convergence really is hitting us now, and its speed is accelerating. Here in 2006, we have mobile and cable TV networks Sprint and ESPN joining up to deliver clips of SportsCenter to basketball junkies, writes Cody Willard. | Go there

The Revolution: Old vs. New Media

Quite a debate we had on Kudlow & Company last week. Click here to watch the clip in streaming on-demand form. As I wrote in the FT last week: the communications revolution gets us all content at any time from any device that can access the Internet.

Friday, March 17, 2006

NMF: I Love the 80s

I've mentioned many times that I tend to lose a lot of stuff. I usually just blame myself and not thieves. But I do think somebody stole my old iPod photo off a table in Starbucks in Santa Barbara, CA this week. That sucks.

So anyway, this week's New Music Friday is a special "I Love the 80s" version, in which I highlight four of my favorite jams from that decade of tightly rolled tight jeans and girls with 8 inch hair. For some background I feel compelled to disclaim the following selection of music comes from a time when I lived in a town that only had a couple radio stations that could be picked up in the car and they were both AM and country western. And my older brother was a metalhead. So that's mostly what I was exposed to in the pop music front. And today, I'm only focusing on the metal songs.

Ballad of Jayne -- LA Guns
I've often wondered how the marketing genius who came up with the name "LA Guns" was. That stupid transparent ripoff name screamed "wannabe GnR" like the lead singer of the band himiself. It's really too bad, as I have to say that I reallly liked a good number of LA Guns' songs. And this gaudy ballad is their best, sappy as it is. I'm thinking a good Cody-ized, bluesified cover of this song would probably rock the house. I might have to crank one out.

Scared -- Dangerous Toys
I remember the first time I ever heard this song was when Adam Curry intro'd the band on TRL's precursor and he called this band "The NEXT Guns and Roses". Hmm, we seem to have a theme going here, don't we? Anyway, this band hailed from Austin, TX, and my older bro was living there at the time, so I gave DT a special chance. And this song, truth be told, still makes me tap the desk, though it's no classic.

Don't Close Your Eyes -- Kix
For some reason iTunes has this very flattering write up of this horrid band. I remember this song as their best, even though it, for some even more unexplainable reason isn't even available on their greatest hits album or on iTunes at all for that matter. At any rate, the song had a pretty good hook in it for the chorus when the dude screams "Don't close your eyes! Don't close your ey-i-eyes!"

Fly to The Angels -- Slaughter
I almost highlighted the better, more rockin, "Up All Night" for this bad band, but to stick with the iTunes theme of having no good reason, I chose this bad balad instead. I guess it's sorta pretty. How's that for a ringing endorsement. Here's something else I guess I could add, by saying that this band sure owes a lot to KISS, including the theme of that "Up All Night" song, no? ("Rock n Roll All Night"...)

I'm not going to highlight the worst cheesedick hairband songs from the era, including Warrant, Poison and all those other plastic bands that helped create the boy-band frenzy that later developed in the decade of the 1990s.

You do realize all those people who are proud to listen to Coldplay today will be in the same boat as the actual fans of these bands are, right? Is there a band with less soul, more sanitized and corporate-ified than those dudes?

Come back for next week's New Music Friday when I highlight my favorite new artist out there right now:

Who else but Ashley Simpson?! (Yes, I'm kidding.)

Finally, I'll quote Bob Lefsetz quoting Lisa Lampanelli at Pamela Anderson's roast:
"Pam Anderson has dated Scott Baio, the singer from Poison, and the drummer from Motley Crue. VH1 should do a show on her life called 'I Fucked the '80s'."
If you don't think that's funny, you just don't have a sense of humor.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

LLT: Intending to Judge On Intent

I was mad at her. My high school girlfriend and I were in a fight, because she'd lost my keys when I'd let her borrow my truck (wow, I had a truck in high school, a 1984 Nissan 4x4, in bright copper, racing stripes, and a roll bar -- I was a working boy and all that, but how embarrassing to remember that vehicle!) to take her friend home during half time of a football game. We finally found them in the parking lot next to the truck but I was mad. So I took her home and dropped her off and with nary a word said between us. She got out and looked back at me with a quick glance out of the side of her eyes, and I knew she was both hurt and rightly resentful about my anger. And I felt guilty about that, but I didn't want to admit that I knew I was wrong (see last week's LLT for more on that topic), and so I just pretended to remain mad as I let off on the clutch and pulled out of her gravel driveway.

So I got home and it was late, but I was hungry and my mom was up reading one of her silly real-life murder drama books that she'd sneak in on occassion back then. (I wonder if she still does.) I poured myself a big ol' glass of 2% milk and grabbed the Oreos and throw myself stiffly down across from her on the couch.

I was wearing my anger on my forehead like coalminer's light, and my mom says, "Cody, what in heaven's name is wrong?"

"Mom, she lost my keys and we had to spend like a half hour looking for them."

"Cody, never lose sight of the importance of intent."

As my mind raced as my eyes stared as my ears heard the episode of Cheers in which Diane and Sam kiss for the first time, I understood what my mom meant.

And later as I went to Blinn JuCo and the tragedies of explicit and implicit racism were blasted at me daily, I'd remember my mom's words about intent. Not that it applies in this day in which nobody in America thinks it's okay to be racist, but back in 1996, I know I met a lot of older people in that city who simply didn't seem to notice their implicit racism, and I'd remember that my mom would tell me not to be too harsh because they didn't intend to be so.

And today when I hear liberal/socialist views that I don't understand, I'll remember my mom's words that I should remember the importance of intent, in that most people who hold those views truly believe that such a system is somehow the best for our health care/roads/postal service etc. I hope they know that the reason I want free market systems is at least partly because my intent is the same -- that I truly want a system that is the best for everyone.

And in the day to day life, this life lesson is especially important in our interactions with our loved ones. We need to remember that our parents' intentions are almost always wanting the best for us. And remember that our lovers usually do too. And moveover our friends almost always want the best for us too.

And that's today's Life Lesson Thursday.

Return of the Jedi Kid

Oh, man, you simply have to love the way the price of technologies come down so far that amateurs can manipulate videos like this. Moreover, how about the fact that we can all collaborate online and create even cooler stuff together.


The Work Always Beckons

One thing about having created a blog and writing for all these places so frequently is that I put so much pressure on myself to make sure I keep the "momentum" going.

This week I've been traveling again, and I've had problems keeping my always-on broadband connectivity going (per my post below, for example), but I've had a lot of traffic flowing to the blog --- and I've just not been able to post! Aurgh, it just kills me.

I think it's partly this pressure to get new words up and to keep the traffic coming back and so on, that is partly to blame for my increasing impatience.

Anyway, I'm back in the saddle and will have lots more on here today and tomorrow, including Life Lesson Thursday and New Music Friday posts.

Oh, and man, what a blast being on Kudlow & Company was last night. I'll have the web clip posted on here when my associate gets back from vacation this weekend.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Electricity Makes the World Go Round

As I've been traveling the country over and over again in the last few months, one reality keeps boomanging around in my mind:

Electricitiness is next to godliness.

I have the latest Dell Laptop, the latest Verizon Wireless Broadband anywhere, the latest Treo 700w, the latest Microsoft Email Exchange Server and the list can go on. But I seem to lose approximately one cord per week. Or forget one at whatever the last place I stayed at was.

And without the ability to tap the power grid to recharge my batteries -- I'm just living in the dark ages. Well, okay, it's not that bad, as I have so many redundancies in my ability to tap the Internet that I still always make do. But I sure am excited about this technology. I wonder if they can design it into my suitcase itself. I wonder if I just jinxed myself into forgetting my suitcase itself the next time I travel. Sigh.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Hedgie Humor

I know a lot of readers won't get the jokes in this one, what with all its jargon, but it's darn funny, trust me.

NMF: Pearl Jam

Before I start today's New Music Friday, can someone explain to me how come Apple, which we all pretend is a bastion of smart design, can't keep their "play" and "pause" indicators consistent between iTunes and the iPod? Ever notice that when iTunes is playing a song, the "play button" shows a "pause symbol" which I guess is supposed to tell us what will happen if we push that button: the music pauses. On the other hand, when your iPod is playing a song, the indicator on the screen shows a "play symbol" which I guess is supposed to indicate that the iPod is indeed playing a song.

Not that it really matters, I guess, but it does sorta remind me of when I get a resume from someone and they put periods after some of their bullet points but not others. Or they use full sentences in some places and not in others. I guess, despite all my rants to the contrary, maybe I like convention, at least convention in the form of consistency.

Anyway, today's NMF is a highlight of my favoite Pearl Jam songs.

Pearl Jam is one of the greatest jam bands of all time --- and I can't say I'm too much into jam bands aside from Pearl Jam. Looking back, I think I was always a player hater of the kids who had enough money, time, or whatever to follow around DMB, Phish, etc and I've not been to a lot of "jam" band concerts. Still sorta' am, frankly, but that's my issue, not theirs. Anyway, of all the jam bands that I do like and listen to, Pearl Jam's by far my favorite.

When I first started learning guitar I'd jam to PJ and their entire Vitalogy album is probably about the only songs that I've ever been able to figure out by "ear". I think I have player hater issues about people who can just listen to a song and know right away what the chord sequences and even what key it's in. Wow, have I ever digressed on this one.

So, Pearl Jam rocks on the cover front. My favorite covers of theirs (and we'll come back Monday and put links to these songs on iTunes --- have to run to the airport right now and Kelly's headed to Mexico for a week of fun) are:

I Won't Back Down (Tom Petty's great jam)

I Am a Patriot (Written by Sopranos star, Sprinsteen jammer, and certainly one of my idols in life, whom I've quoted in my slogan slot above before, Steven Van Zandt)

Baba O'Reilly (PJ jamming on this great Who jam? Are you kidding?)

(PS. Every version I've ever heard them do of the Beatles' "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" is strangely horrible).

My favorite original songs of theirs includes: Rearviewmirror (I really did tear up the first time I heard them sing this song live..."First on my plate, swallow it down" Tough stuff.)

Corduroy (Used to listen to this song full blast in my car on the way to the Pit to play (ie, sit) a game. By the time we'd be out doing warm ups, I'd be doing my double touch the glass reverse dunks...in warm ups --- believe it or not, true story)

Glorified G (Just a great, beautiful song with amazing guitar weaving)

And of course, the original, where it all started, "Alive". It doesn't get much better than that. (and though I've spent scores of hours trying to, it's another song I've never been able to figure out by "ear". Oh, that kills me too.)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

LLT: Own Your Mistakes

It's so hard to own up to our mistakes. And that's what today's Life Lesson Thursday is all about. Our egos are part of the problem. Self-esteem, you know? You're not paying attention to something, and then you realize that you're going to look stupid as you'd just silly-ly (I've always wanted to invent that word), ignored a factor that was obvious from the start. It happens, you know? Or sometimes, you're just stuck, trapped in a corner, thinking in a box. And the paradigm shift that you were supposed to understand wasn't explained to you in a straightforward simple manner.

Whatever the root of your mistake, you don't want to admit to yourself, much less to anyone else that you messed up. So you try to gloss over your misunderstanding. You try to deflect the confusion and project it onto something else. You just can't admit your mistake, not even to yourself.

And then you start layering on all the B.S. that you can come up with to rationalize making the mistake. You dig yourself a hole deeper in your own head. And you start to lose credibility to those who know you made the mistake.

But what happens when you just say, "Oh, I get it now. And wow, did I blow it."

It gets worse when someone gets hurt by your mistake. You make a bad trade. You miss a birthday. You senselessly hurt a loved one by ignoring an obvious need of theirs. Whatever, you didn't do it on purpose. (At least I hope you didn't...and ooh, that leads me to next week's LLT, which will come from my mother, and it will be about realizing the importance of "Intent". Ooh, and that reminds me of another future LLT that also comes from my mom about "picking and choosing your battles").

I'm not sure where today's LLT actually stems from. I know it partly comes from past bosses I've had, from Rod Adamson to Andrew Lanyi and I never forget the first time I read a mea culpa from Jim Cramer and what an impact it made on me.

I think part of the reason I know this LLT so intimately is indeed because so much of what I do, I do in the public eye. And I, just like everyone (wait, is that a rationalization itself?!), make a whoooole lot of mistakes. And I write the words "mea culpa" a lot. Maybe not often enough though.

Anyway the point is: Don't rationalize. Don't justify. Step up and own reality. It is what it is. Even our screw ups.

Letter from Google Adwords Team

I've written in the past about how I've spoken at length with people from Google and how all the hype from all the media playerhaters and shortselling idiots around this click fraud stuff with google is, well, just a bunch of BS. Here's more on that, straight from the horse's mouth.

--- from Google AdWords team, 3/8/06 ---

For some time, we've provided
information for advertisers about
invalid clicks on the AdWords site here.
We thought the notice of today?s invalid
click settlement might prompt some
additional questions about this issue,
so we had Shuman Ghosemajumder, Business
Product Manager for Trust & Safety,
address them.

What is click fraud? I often hear
the term "invalid clicks," too. What's
the difference -- or are they the same?

The term "fraud" implies deliberate
deception. Our aim in fighting invalid
clicks is broader and includes clicks
that we suspect may have been deceptive
or malicious, as well as clicks that we
deem invalid for other reasons, such as
accidental double clicking on an ad. The
usage of the word "fraud" in this
context has caused a great deal of
confusion, as it's practically
impossible to "prove" that an impression
or click was caused by deliberate
deception. Our servers can accurately
count clicks on ads, but we cannot know
what the intent of a clicking user was
when they made that click. When we
identify a click as invalid, it simply
means a click we won't charge for, in
order to deliver the best ROI to

Why not say more about the specific
methods used to identify invalid clicks?

There are many things we do to
detect invalid clicks, including looking
at duplicate IP addresses, user session
information, network information,
geo-targeting and browser information.
These are all important signals for
detecting invalid clicks.

The technology we use to detect
invalid clicks is highly sophisticated
and was developed by some of the world's
leading experts -- PhDs in artificial
intelligence, machine learning, and
statistics. We?re reluctant to share
more about our technology and methods,
however, because doing so would make it
easier for fraudsters to try to defeat
our systems.

How big a problem is invalid click

We take it very seriously and have
devoted significant resources and some
of our best talent to this. By far, most
of the invalid clicks we see are
detected and discarded by our automatic
filters even before they reach
advertisers accounts. If an advertiser
is monitoring click activity, these
automatically filtered clicks may show
up in an advertiser's logs, but not in
their bills. When invalid clicks are
detected after an advertiser is charged,
we reimburse for them. Because of our
detection efforts, losses to advertisers
from invalid clicks are very small.

But don't advertisers report invalid
clicks to Google which weren't detected
in advance?

We do receive reports from
advertisers and we look at them very
closely. When we believe those clicks
are invalid, we reimburse advertisers
for them. Some invalid clicks do make it
through our filters, but we believe the
amount is very small.

Also, we often find that the clicks
are legitimate, but from unexpected
sources such as broader targets the
advertiser has set up for their
campaign. And, as I mentioned earlier,
some of the invalid clicks advertisers
see in logs are clicks we've already
caught, discarded and not charged. Most
investigations we conduct concerning
invalid clicks are cleared up with the
advertiser after explaining the source
of the traffic increase or showing them
that the clicks were never charged.

Does Google have an incentive to
allow some amount of fraud because it
means more revenue?

Actually, it is the opposite of
that. We have much more of an incentive
to do a better job of handling invalid
clicks than our competitors -- and we
believe we do. Fighting invalid clicks
aggressively is in Google's best
interest and essential for us to
maintain a viable business. In addition,
we offer free tools to advertisers so
they can monitor their return on
investment -- which is a helpful way to
determine whether too many clicks coming
through are not resulting in sales.
Those free tools help advertisers manage
to a bottom line value of their ads.

Some people suggest that click fraud
may account for as much as 30 percent of
traffic -- what do you say to that?

We believe the methodology behind
that particular estimate is flawed --
and that many who have cited the figure
have done so irresponsibly by using it
differently than it is characterized in
the report.

Here's a link to a .pdf version of
the study where that figure originated.
We encourage you to read the report and
evaluate it yourself. Some things we
think you will see that undercut those
who use this estimate carelessly:

Even the report does not say that
click fraud is 30% of all clicks. What
it does say is that of three ad
campaigns (only three ad campaigns were
examined in this study), evaluated over
a ten day period, one had questionable
clicks of 8%, another 10% and a third 30%.

So, the 30% figure comes from
analysis of a *single* ad campaign, not
a study of many. This means that the
figure of 30% that is used to
characterize click fraud for the whole
search and advertising industry comes
from the analysis of *one* ad campaign
looked at for ten days. Even in that
campaign, it is not clear what
methodology they used to determine which
clicks are "bad" and it is possible that
they marked legitimate clicks as

Moreover, the study does not
indicate whether the advertiser was
actually charged for any of the clicks,
only that the traffic analysis suggested
that the clicks may have been invalid.
As I mentioned above, it?s very possible
that clicks recorded in an advertiser's
logs have already been caught by
Google?s detection systems and not
charged. (I should also note that when
invalid clicks are detected and
discarded before they are charged to an
advertiser they are also not recorded as

When considering the validity of
this exaggerated 30% figure, you should
also consider who is most aggressively
using it: it is those who have the most
to gain from hyping the problem. Those
who are throwing around this figure are
doing so as part of their marketing
efforts to sell products they claim
detect click fraud. The more they can
convince others that click fraud is a
problem, the more they hope to see
increased sales. In other words, these
companies have a huge financial
incentive to make people believe invalid
clicks are a larger problem than they
really are.

What else on this topic should we
should be aware of?

Whether it?s online or offline,
advertising should be about ROI and
results. It is in our interest to serve
the interests of our advertisers, which
means delivering superior ROI. Our
efforts to combat invalid clicks are an
essential part of that.

What we have seen so far is that
advertisers continually increase the
amount of money they spend, which
suggests that they are pleased with the
return delivered by their ads. We
encourage advertisers to track ROI and
contact us when they see something that
doesn't appear to add up. If you see
suspicious activity on your AdWords
account, please contact our click
quality team.

Posted by Arielle, Inside AdWords crew

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Wondering About the Alcohol in My Life

I never drank until a few months before my 21st birthday. I took my sports way too seriously to let booze into my life. I believe that my purity of body was a big reason I was able to train my body to fly 43" from a stand still. Even after I no longer refused to drink, I was never much of a boozer.

Now I'm not going to pretend that drinking alcohol is part of my job. But part of my job is indeed going out and socializing with Wall Streeters and company executives and sales people and so on. And I've been a single dude in NYC off and on for nine years, and I go on dates and stuff too, you know?

Anyway, I find I drink more nights these days than I don't. When I go out, I might have a couple glasses of wine. Or on other nights, maybe three or four beers sometimes. And even when I'm home I usually have a glass of wine or a beer with dinner. And I do have a bottle of Grey Goose in my fridge that I'll make a drink with on occassion too. And I did finish that bottle of Glen Livet 25 that I'd bought as a reward to myself for something or another a year ago or so.

So I've wondered to myself at times: What constitutes alcholism? I mean, I know those horrid stories of people who get the shakes and have booze hidden in their drawers and stuff. But what about me, having at least one drink five or six nights a week? And I don't buy that crap about how drinking a glass of wine is supposedly GOOD for us. Yeah, and so are leeches when you're sick, right? And heat that sprained ankle. No, ice it. But I digress.

In the past year, I've asked a couple doctor friends and a psychiatrist uncle and psychologist aunt about it. They laughed at me when I told them I was worried about it and described it. Then I read this article in the WSJ by Kevin Helliker yesterday, describing someone who apparently isn't an alcoholic, but "determined she was drinking nine to 16 shots of vodka an evening, four to seven evenings a week. Although primarily a social drinker, she sometimes snuck snorts in the basement, where she kept a bottle."

And I'm thinking: Now I get why everybody thought it was so funny that I was even worried about it. But then again, you know it's a good thing that I am worried about it.

Let's drink to that! Cheers.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Those Unwatchable Oscars

I tried for about the 11th time in my life to watch the Oscars. You'd think with me having been at the Sundance award ceremony I'd have had more interest. Alas, after George Clooney's funny acceptance speech "We should all dress up like Batman and compete" (or something like that...) I had to put it on mute. And after the usually beautiful Naomi Watts came out in that tissue-wrapping-paper-homeless outfit thingee (didn't listen to whatever she said...) and then Charlize Theron came out looking not-quite orange-ish but the friend I was watching the show with commented that she'd had a "run in with Charlize a while ago"....

Well, damitall, I was just bored. I've been increasingly exposed to some of the Hollywood machinations that result in the silly commercialized, sold out, mindless award ceremony, and I just couldn't make it. Reminded me a lot of trying to watch it back in high school.

And, while I'm going to have to actually read through the awards for the sake of trying to stay (get?) "current", I have to say, I couldn't care less about the specifics.

Hell, I only made it to the movie theatre like ten times last year. Once for Star Wars, of course (James Altucher and I met up with Stephen Dubner and others and gave away some tickets to readers...that was fun!), and then I watched "Crash" like three times on my own (I love the "flip it" aspect throughout the movie and the important messages about the end of racism --- hmm, speaking of race, what race are we supposed to categorize "orange" in anyway?-- and the smile on Ludacris' face when he smiles to himself in satisfaction for having done something good for the first time in the movie as the movie ends...) and dragged friends to it another four times...and I don't remember what the other movie I sat through last year was.

Here's hoping "Crash" swept the Oscars.

Friday, March 03, 2006


One of JET's behind the scenes folk sent me their CD a while ago, and I have to say they have become quite an influence on my own music. I love their guitar work. The riffs, man, the riffs.

In some ways, JET is sorta' a Black Crowes for the next generation. Not quite as straight foward and bluesy as my boys from Athens, GA, JET somehow adds a more modern element -- perhaps it's about the layers in their music. Then again, the Black Crowes are very layered too. The point is, JET rocks a lot like the Black Crowes do.

If you've ever played or been around a Electronic Arts Madden 2005 video game, you already are sick and tired of "Are You Gonna' Be My Girl", which is a great rock jam with a killer hook that catches your rebel inside and makes him sit still at attention for a couple minutes.

They also slow it down for you and play some pretty melodic tunes such as "Radio Song". "This song won't be played on the radio - o - o - o" Cameron whines, pleads, and explains to the listener. I hear ya, bro, and I get your point. "Look What You've Done" is an Oasis/Beatles-esque ballad that simplifies their sound and chills it out in a nice straight forward relaxing manner.

"Last chance" is, in the "Are You Gonna Be My Girl" kinda rocking vein, and I frankly like it better than the more popular song.

I expect this band, originally from down under, has a very long, successful career ahead of them. Surely our generation (hmmm, are they in my generation or below mine? Wow, how old have I gotten?) is going to have a Rolling Stones type band or two. Surely.

Or maybe we should hope not. Anyway, JET rocks.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

LLT: Three Answers to Any Question

I've had many important mentors and influences in my life. From my parents, uncles and aunts, my grandma and Ross, so many great coaches (Dave Bliss being the antithesis of a mentor/influence by the way), important bosses and colleagues...I'll name names as I highlight lessons I learned from each in this new weekly feature for the blog here, called, "Life Lesson Thursday".

Today's edition of LLT is spurred by an interaction with an employee of mine who didn't answer a question correctly when I asked it this morning (and he knew better). My first job on Wall Street was with Andrew Lanyi, and he taught me many, many important lessons about life, my career, how to be a professional...heck he even taught me a lot about the English language (such as never saying, "There's so many of them", because that should be, "There ARE so many of them"...but that's not today's LLT, that's just a bonus LLT from my endless digression (endless digressions? Andrew, a little help here? Mom, help???))

I'd taken a foot-in-the-door kinda job from Andrew just answering his phones and filing papers when I'd been in NYC trying to break onto Wall Street for a few months back in 1996. October 27th, 1996 was my first day, as I recall. In my second week on the job, Andrew started yelling at one of his two apprentices (apprenti?) and he essentially fired one on the spot. "Cody, get your ass up here," he told me in his thick Hungarian accent (Andrew was, at the time, 73 years old and had been on Wall Street and in the US for like 39 and 40 years respectively).

First thing when I take my place at my new desk next to Andrew's desk, he asks me, "Cody, do you know how to use this portfolio software program?"

I answered, "Hmm, I think so."

He looked me in the eyes and slapped his desk in a shocking, horrifying loud BOOM.

I snapped to attention and he says to me in a quiet, stern, and harsh voice:

"Cody, there are only three answers to any question I'll ever ask you. They are:
1. Yes.
2. No.
3. I don't know, but I'll find out."

And that, simply put, is one of the most important realizations I've ever had in my life.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A Funny Example of Cody-Hate

Recently I posted a Cody-hate email from one Marc Grbic. I took it down after I felt I'd embarrassed the dude enough. The thing is, see, as I keep writing, the communications revolution is cutting into crime, hate, (and I'm writing an article that will explain how it will also, over many more years, end atrocity and genocide). And the primary means of doing so is that cell phones and the Internet keep us connected in all kinds of new ways and allow us to shine light on evil-doers (or, in this case, haters, which isn't exactly an "evil" thing, but it ain't exactly cool, either...)

Anyway, I got this pretty darn hilarious email yesterday and I think my reply is even more funny (funnier...more fun, funner...damn English language, or as my editor/friend George sometimes puts it, Cody-lish...but I digress). Here's what Brendan (guess he didn't have the guts to include his last name) at brendan@meglodon.com sent me the other day (and he must have been trying to show off to his buddy at cconerly@earthlink or something, cuz he cc'd that email address):

"Seems, madam? Nay, it is. I know not 'seems'." Hamlet, 1.2.76

Hey bud I saw your quote on your website and just wanted to make a few comments. I guess my first comment is you are such a frikin dork words cannot even come close to subscribing it. I mean give me a break you frikin quote Hamlet. It is so frikin obvious your trying to act or present the image that you are really deep and well cultured. Well guess what guy it is abundantly clear your a frikin soft nerd who could get roled by 50lb kid.

Ughhhh and then there is that spot about you dating women and riding your bike. Dude I read that and my only response is if I saw you on that bike the first thing to come to my mind would be who the hell is that homo on the bike looking like he just had a couple of cocktails at the gay bar. As far as your dates with other women were concerned I guarantee here is how the call went with their mothers when they gave them. "Hey mom I just went on a date with this guy who I would have to say may have been the biggest tool on the planet. He tried to be super deep and talk about feelings and all this other stuff, then he started quoting people like Thoreau and other linguistic has beens basically trying to act really intelligent. Well then at the end of the date he gave me a hug and said is life grand or what? and then got on this retarted bike and road off humming some toon called "I Like it In The Backdoor".

Goodness Cody get a grib guy your level of frikin nerdness has reached an al ltime high. Lastly what should I do with all this avnx I was thinking of ordering actual stock certificates and then using them to wipe my arss.

Ok bud take care and I will talk to you soon.

Warmest Regards.

I upgraded to a new PC in November and "Brendan" (along with Marc) used to be blocked in my old Outlook. I'm pretty happy this one got through though, I must say.

And I simply wrote him back:

Wow, Brendan, I am flattered by your continued obsession with me. ;)

Hoohah, indeed!