Jabley http://www.jabley.com/ en Fri, 13 Jun 2014 06:00:00 GMT http://www.jabley.com/rss/ acrylamid 0.7.8 Welcome http://www.jabley.com/2014/06/13/welcome/ <p>Here at Jabley.com, we seek to offer insight on topics that come up in everyday life from investments and finances, legal issues and business, to healthy living and events we experience.</p> <img alt="healthy lifestyle through successful economic investment" src="http://www.jabley.com/images/person.jpg"/> <p>With the rapidly changing political environment, the 24/7 news cycle and hyper-connectivity, it is important to participate and have one's voice heard. This is particularly true if it improves the signal to noise ratio.</p> <p>Stick with us as we continue our journey.</p> Fri, 13 Jun 2014 06:00:00 GMT tag:www.jabley.com,2014-06-13:/2014/06/13/welcome Spam This http://www.jabley.com/2005/04/25/spam-this/ <img alt="karma" src="http://www.jabley.com/images/spam.png"/> <p>Over the last week, Jabley.com has gone from a blip on the radar to an official target of poker spam bots. It started out as a mere trickle earlier this week, but has metastasized into a veritable flood of poker spam. This morning alone I got 38 92 poker spam comments. While it is a bit flattering that they actually want to spam the site, I am somewhat concerned that I may be inadvertently deleting real comments. I have installed Dr. Dave’s Spam Karma as a means of deterring these spam bots. If your comments have accidentally become a victim of the war on spam, I apologize. I will do my best to periodically monitor the spam bin to make sure that legitimate commentary isn’t being tossed.</p> Mon, 25 Apr 2005 06:00:00 GMT tag:www.jabley.com,2005-04-25:/2005/04/25/spam-this John Linder, Progressive Conservative http://www.jabley.com/2005/04/24/john-linder-progressive-conservative/ <p>I like to think of myself as “progressive.” As a social liberal, it’s a label I don’t often apply to your run of the mill GOP House member. But I’ll be damned if I don’t think congressman John Linder’s (R-Georgia) “Fair Tax” bill isn’t one of the most progressive ideas to come along in some time (even though I disagree with him on just about every other salient political issue). To summarize the plan:</p> <ul class="simple"> <li>Eliminate the IRS and its 60,000+ pages of tax code;</li> <li>Eliminate income tax, both corporate and personal;</li> <li>Eliminate the payroll tax, widely recognized as the most regressive tax that the average American pays;</li> <li>Eliminate self-employment tax, capital gains, gift and estate taxes, and the alternative minimum tax;</li> <li>Replace this horrendous clusterfuck with a 23% national sales tax;</li> <li>Provide relief to the poor by giving rebates for essential goods and services;</li> <li>Stick it to the K Street lobbyists like they never thought possible.</li> </ul> <p>There is also a great FAQ page on Linder’s website that I would encourage you to examine. If you know of any gaping holes in his logic, please post them here.</p> <p>Last month, George Will had a piece on this bill and I think it’s worth a read. IMO, George Will is a certifiable jerk, but he’s one of those jerks I’ve grown to respect due to the fact that his arguments often make too damn much sense. Can someone please explain to me why Democrats can’t seize issues such as this? Granted, Collin Peterson (D-MN) is a co-sponsor of the bill, but why don’t we see any REALLY prominent Dems out there trumpeting this?</p> Sun, 24 Apr 2005 06:00:00 GMT tag:www.jabley.com,2005-04-24:/2005/04/24/john-linder-progressive-conservative Spam Karma 2: Why Cant Everything Work This Well? http://www.jabley.com/2005/05/03/spam-karma-2-why-cant-everything-work-this-well/ <img alt="karma" src="http://www.jabley.com/images/spam.png"/> <p>I had to write a post on the excellent job Dr. Dave’s Spam Karma 2 does at blocking virtually all kinds of blog spam. If you have a WordPress blog and don’t have SK2, you need it. After Google upped my PR from a goose egg to a 3, I got nailed with an onslaught of poker spam. I installed the last stable release of the 1.x series of Spam Karma and, while it caught most of the spam, a few messages got through (mostly trackback spam). After finding that his 2.0 series was in pre-alpha development (whatever that means), I updated the plugin, and have not had a single piece of spam get through; what’s more, there hasn’t been a single false positive yet, something that is likely very difficult to achieve. I even donated a few bucks to the project, and I don’t normally do that. The elegance of this has me wondering why e-mail spam can’t be managed this effectively. Surely some of the same filtering algorithms (or permutations thereof) might be effective in managing broader spam problems. Hands down the most useful WP Plugin out there. Great work Dave (and other contributors).</p> Tue, 03 May 2005 06:00:00 GMT tag:www.jabley.com,2005-05-03:/2005/05/03/spam-karma-2-why-cant-everything-work-this-well Vonage Review http://www.jabley.com/2005/04/08/vonage-review/ <img alt="service" src="http://www.jabley.com/images/phone.jpg"/> <p>Last October, the Jablet and I decided to ditch our long distance and local phone company and try out Vonage, the current market leader in the still-emerging consumer voice over internet protocol (VoIP) market. Having used the service for a time sufficient to uncover both its strengths and weaknesses (and to some extent the pros and cons of VoIP technology as a whole), I decided to draft a review that outlines the arguments for and against jumping on the VoIP bandwagon. There are a bunch of other reviews out there, but I think this is distinguished from many of the others insofar as it reflects our overall experience over the past six months, not simply a day or two of intense use as is typical with most technology reviews. I’ll probably make this a piece that evolves over time, so if you have some relevant information, please post a comment or trackback and I will update this post to reflect any particularly salient insights.</p> <div class="section" id="what-is-voip"> <h3>What is VoIP?</h3> <p>Before delving into the specifics of Vonage’s service, it is necessary to briefly describe what VoIP is, how it works, and why it is a reasonable alternative to a traditional landline. Simply put, VoIP services use your high speed internet connection to place phone calls. When you order service from a VoIP provider (Vonage, Packet8, AT&amp;T CallVantage, BroadVoice, Lingo, etc.) you are shipped a router that is outfitted with a special phone adapter. You connect your broadband modem to this router, plug your phone into the phone port, and start using the service; in most cases, setup really is that simple. Since the overarching purpose of VoIP is to ditch your local phone company, the switch often only makes sense for cable or fiber optic customers, since many DSL providers require that you keep a standard land line open.</p> </div> <div class="section" id="advantage-1-price"> <h3>Advantage #1: Price</h3> <p>The primary advantage of any VoIP service is price. For $25 or less per month you can get unlimited phone calls, free long distance in the US and Canada, and just about every calling feature imaginable (voicemail, caller ID, call waiting, three-way calling, and tons of other features that you will never need). If you attempt to get equivalent services through the traditional channels, you would pay at least $50 to your phone company plus whatever long distance charges you rack up. From a value standpoint, Vonage is hard to beat. I would note that some other VoIP services (e.g. Lingo) are less expensive than Vonage and extend the free long distance features to include international calls to regions such as Western Europe.</p> </div> <div class="section" id="advantage-2-quality-phone-calls"> <h3>Advantage #2: Quality Phone Calls</h3> <p>When we ordered Vonage, we were skeptical and didn’t immediately cancel our traditional phone service. After a short amount of time, however, we were satisfied that there were few noticeable differences in overall call quality relative to the traditional phone company and completed the transition. So far, there have been only two exceptions to the “high quality” observation. The first exception, which we have largely remedied, was caused by simultaneously talking on the phone and performing other bandwidth-intensive functions. We have apparently fixed this problem by tweaking the settings on the “bandwidth saver” that allows us to specify the bit rate for voice transmission. The second circumstance in which we have observed minor difficulty with call quality has been when we have had conversations with other individuals outfitted with similar VoIP services. We have experienced some deterioration in call quality both with Vonage to Vonage and Vonage to Lingo calls. I don’t quite know why it is, but it appears as though having at least one traditional land line (or cell phone) involved in the call measurably increases overall call quality.</p> </div> <div class="section" id="advantage-3-secondary-numbers"> <h3>Advantage #3: Secondary Numbers</h3> <p>A meaningful benefit of the Vonage service is the ability to associate a given router with multiple phone numbers originating from different area codes or even different countries. For example, if I have a client in Phoenix, I could simply add a number originating from the 602 area code. My client could then simply dial that 602 number, have it ring to my Vonage router anywhere in the world, and incur no long distance charges for the call. These numbers can be turned on and off at will and only cost five dollars a month—a pretty good deal, I think.</p> </div> <div class="section" id="advantage-4-portability"> <h3>Advantage #4: Portability</h3> <p>Voice over IP doesn’t care where you are. Due to the fact that you aren’t linked to a phone line, but rather just to a router, your Vonage number can travel with you. For example, if we went overseas on a trip (or even moved to another country), we could simply pack or Vonage router, plug it into a broadband connection anywhere in the world, and start making phone calls as if we were back home. Some people use this strategy to stay in more frequent contact with friends and family overseas. I know of people who have shipped US-based VoIP routers to family members in India who can now call back home free of charge. Similarly, some military families are using VoIP technologies to stay in more frequent contact with family members deployed overseas.</p> </div> <div class="section" id="advantage-5-wife-approval-factor"> <h3>Advantage #5: Wife Approval Factor</h3> <p>The long term viability of a gadget is largely dependent on the degree to which your wife (or significant other) actually recognizes the benefits of the technology. This wife approval factor (WAF) is the unspoken arbiter of whether or not a technology product remains in the house. Items that appeal to both the Jablet and I are few and far between. The only technology item in our home that exceeds Vonage in terms of the WAF is our wireless router. The reason for the high WAF, I think, is that the benefits of Vonage are very concrete. Jablet simply makes the same phone calls she used to make, but pays less for them. I understand that MythTV also has a very high WAP; that’s the next project.</p> </div> <div class="section" id="disadvantage-1-shoddy-911-service"> <h3>Disadvantage #1: Shoddy 911 Service</h3> <p>This is the BIG one. Since a VoIP number does not physically reside in any given location, it has been problematic for Vonage to establish reliable 911 services for its customers. I went through Vonage’s standard procedures for establishing 911 services, but when I tested it out to make sure that a 911 call actually landed to the appropriate operator, I was connected to a clueless person at the local police department. After I researched the situation a bit more, I found that this was the extent of Vonage’s 911 services—getting you in touch with your local equivalent of Barney Fife. Vonage claims to be well on the way toward finding a solution for this problem and has made the issue a top priority for 2005. I, however, am skeptical and detect a bigger problem; it wouldn’t’ surprise me if this issue lingers for quite some time. The company is currently involved in a major dispute with SBC over their 911 infrastructure; Vonage is trying to get congress involved. In the meantime, Vonage’s lack of real 911 services has already become a bit of a PR nightmare, with at least one state suing the company over the absence of this critical feature. This is a serious issue that has already cost at least one person their life.</p> </div> <div class="section" id="disadvantage-2-number-portage"> <h3>Disadvantage #2: Number Portage</h3> <p>One of Vonage’s major claims is that you can keep your old phone number. Some of my friends have successfully ported their number to Vonage, but I’m here to tell you that this won’t necessarily be possible. We went through a three-month long number portability headache when we switched to Vonage. After becoming frustrated with our local phone company over the slow pace at which they were releasing my old phone number, I called to investigate. To make a long story short, federally-mandated number portability only applies to transfers within and between cell phone providers and landline carriers; the law does not apply to VoIP providers. I investigated this thoroughly, calling not only the FCC, but the Kentucky Public Service Commission as well. So basically, if your local phone company agrees to transfer your number to a VoIP provider, they are likely doing so as part of a contractual arrangement with the VoIP company. The thing that made me mad about this is that Vonage swore up and down that our number would be easily and rapidly ported from our local phone company. If they just told me from the outset that our number would not have been ported, that would have been fine. I really wouldn’t have cared all that much. But because of their insistence, we proceeded to order several phone number-specific items (personal checks, engraved dog collar, etc.) that immediately became obsolete once the true situation became apparent.</p> </div> <div class="section" id="disadvantage-3-single-physical-connection"> <h3>Disadvantage #3: Single Physical Connection</h3> <p>One of the lesser problems with Vonage is that you can only plug a single phone line into the router. If you’re cheap, this means that you will only have one phone working in your house. The rational means by which you can sidestep this limitation, however, is to simply purchase one of those base station/peripheral unit setups for around $100. These systems allow you to place phones throughout your home while only plugging the base station into the phone port. It’s not that big of a deal, but if you have a phone from 1985, VoIP will force you into the 21st century. Alternately, you can disconnect the phone company’s input lines into your house; once you do this, you should be able to plug in your vonage router and have it ring through every hard wired line in the house. I, however, think that this is a bit of a silly solution. I’d rather just buy the $100 phone and leave my traditional phone lines in tact for future potential owners of our house.</p> </div> <div class="section" id="disadvantage-4-faxing"> <h3>Disadvantage #4: Faxing</h3> <p>The Vonage router comes with a second phone port in case you choose to purchase a fax line. We didn’t order the fax line initially ($9.95/month), but did so recently for business purposes and to accommodate the fax-intensive tax season. I’ve been really disappointed with the fax features; for some reason it appears as though fax capabilities; they simply don’t work for us and we are going to cancel the service. A few days ago I got on the phone with a tech support specialist who told me that I needed to turn off ECM (error correcting mode) and switch the baud rate to 9600 in order for faxing to work. First, I don’t like the idea of turning error correcting mode off; I don’t really know how it works, but it sounds like something that I would want turned ON. Second, didn’t the 9600 baud rate get left back in 1992? Apparently the manufacturers of both of my fax machines agree with me, since it isn’t possible in either case to override the machine’s default baud rate. A good friend of mine tells me that he has not been able to replicate this problem, so it would be most evenhanded, I suppose, to say that the quality of your fax experience may be unpredictable. Update: see this post for an update on the fax situation</p> </div> <div class="section" id="disadvantage-5-tech-support"> <h3>Disadvantage #5: Tech Support</h3> <p>If you order Vonage and actually need to get in touch with a technical support representative, make sure that your new base station unit has speakerphone capabilities because you will be on hold for an extended period of time. When I have managed to get in touch with a Vonage representative, I must admin that I have been impressed. However, by the time a customer service representative has gotten around to answering my question, I’ve been rather testy from the protracted wait. Make sure you have at least 30 minutes when you make a support call.</p> </div> <div class="section" id="summary"> <h3>Summary</h3> <p>Overall we’ve been impressed by Vonage. Call quality is excellent, the service is feature-rich and you simply can’t beat the value. It’s the only bill that we actually look forward to paying each month. The major disadvantage of Vonage’s service—namely lack of true 911 service—makes the switch impractical for individuals with chronic life-threatening medical conditions or for families with children. If keeping your old phone number is a big issue for you, we strongly advise you to confirm both with Vonage and your local phone provider the existence of a number portability agreement prior to initiating service. Lastly, you need to be generally comfortable playing around with computers and routers. While this won’t be a problem for the overwhelming majority of Vonage’s potential customer base, I wouldn’t advise a switch for individuals whose interest is only lukewarm.</p> </div> Fri, 08 Apr 2005 06:00:00 GMT tag:www.jabley.com,2005-04-08:/2005/04/08/vonage-review Practical Science http://www.jabley.com/2005/08/06/practical-science/ <p>Readers…if I have any left that is…have no doubt realized that I’ve been rather preoccupied with…well, getting the hell out of graduate school. Experience has taught me that it takes a special kind of individual to actually enjoy grad school, particularly bench work. Most of the people who profess their love of struggling with the same scientific question day after day for years on end only manage to achieve this level of bullshitery through a careful balance of generalized delusions, a (typically) false sense that their work will ultimately benefit mankind, and hefty doses of SSRI’s. Granted, there are a few select labs and individuals for which this is not true; these individuals and labs, however, are the exception, not the rule.</p> <img alt="Practical Science" src="http://www.jabley.com/images/science.jpg"/> <p>Given my protracted exercise in scientific futility, I finally decided to do something practical with my knowledge. So, over the course of the past two months or so, I’ve taken up homebrewing. Talk about a fun, dangerous hobby. Here’s a shot of my current setup. I currently have approximately 20 gallons of various libations in preparation in the computer/beer dungeon.</p> <div class="section" id="homebrew-setup"> <h3>Homebrew Setup</h3> <p>From the left, the brews are:</p> <p>A 5 gallon container of a Irish Red Ale (think Killian’s). This ale has been brewing with the help of the “BrewCap,” a review of which I will have later for other interested homebrewers. Until I get that review written, let it suffice to say that you should not waste your money.</p> <p>On the ground just to the right of this contraption, I have a 5 gallon carboy full of a Belgian style wheat beer (think Hoegaarden). This is actually the second batch of this beer I’ve made; we tore through the first batch in short order and it is, by far, Jablet’s favorite.</p> <p>The two 6.25 gallon carboys immediately to the right of the wheat beer are filled not with beer, but with mead. Mead, for those that have never tried it, is honey wine—the oldest of all alcoholic beverages. The one in the back started about 10 days ago and is ginger citrus mead. The one in front was made today and will be vanilla mead. Mead takes considerably longer to ferment than beer, but it should be worth it.</p> </div> Sat, 06 Aug 2005 06:00:00 GMT tag:www.jabley.com,2005-08-06:/2005/08/06/practical-science Death of a Centrist? http://www.jabley.com/2005/05/24/death-of-a-centrist/ <img alt="centrist politics" src="http://www.jabley.com/images/pelopidas_death.jpg"/> <p>The downstream effects of the 11th hour sidestepping of the nuclear option may have some powerful effects on the Republican Presidential nominee in 2008. Throughout the process, both John McCain (R-AZ) and Chuck Hagel (R-NE) were actively involved in negotiating deal terms. Of these two putative presidential candidates, only McCain appears to have signed the deal. Hagel, on the other hand, has been quoted by a Nebraska TV station as expressing disappointment over the deal terms.</p> <p>While it is encouraging that both Hagel and McCain participated in the negotiations (they have cemented the respect of centrists from both parties), I believe that it clearly gives Hagel the upper hand in the 2008 primaries.</p> <p>The far right is screaming mad regarding this deal. Take, for example, quotes from James Dobson’s Focus on the Family</p> <blockquote> <p>COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., May 23 U.S. Newswire — Focus on the Family Action Chairman Dr. James C. Dobson today issued the following statement, upon the announcement by members of the U.S. Senate that a “compromise” had been reached on the filibuster issue:</p> <p>“This Senate agreement represents a complete bailout and betrayal by a cabal of Republicans and a great victory for united Democrats. Only three of President Bush’s nominees will be given the courtesy of an up-or-down vote, and it’s business as usual for all the rest. The rules that blocked conservative nominees remain in effect, and nothing of significance has changed. Justice Clarence Thomas, Justice Antonin Scalia, and Chief Justice William Rehnquist would never have served on the U. S. Supreme Court if this agreement had been in place during their confirmations. The unconstitutional filibuster survives in the arsenal of Senate liberals. “We are grateful to Majority Leader Frist for courageously fighting to defend the vital principle of basic fairness. That principle has now gone down to defeat. We share the disappointment, outrage and sense of abandonment felt by millions of conservative Americans who helped put Republicans in power last November. I am certain that these voters will remember both Democrats and Republicans who betrayed their trust.”</p> </blockquote> <p>Or from other right leaning blogs:</p> <blockquote> Still, the true driving force behind all this is John McCain, who can rest assured he will never receive my vote in any Presidential election for any reason, including that of his opponent being Hillary Clinton.</blockquote> <p>Apparently McCain believes that he can win the Republican nomination without support from the far right, while Hagel has likely pondered the downstream effects of the deal and did not sign his name on the agreement. Given this move and the reaction from the far right, I think McCain may have to run as an independent if he truly wants to have a shot at winning the election. If he is bold enough to make this move, I believe McCain will have enough appeal to moderates from both parties, would split the vote, and may come out ahead in the end. I’d vote for him.</p> Tue, 24 May 2005 06:00:00 GMT tag:www.jabley.com,2005-05-24:/2005/05/24/death-of-a-centrist Vonage IPO? http://www.jabley.com/2005/04/12/vonage-ipo/ <img alt="Vonage IPO financials" src="http://www.jabley.com/images/phone.jpg"/> <p>There have been rumors circulating that Vonage is entertaining an IPO. More interesting are the circumstances surrounding this potential offering. The company’s CEO, Jeff Citron, got a swift kick in the nads from the SEC a few years ago for some illegal activity and was ordered to pay a handsome fine; some have speculated that the SEC might have a problem with Citron being on the board of a publicly traded company, though these have not, to my knowledge, been substantiated. Secondly, there is an interesting article by Russell Shaw pondering an acquisition of Vonage by Sprint, the only major national telecom provider currently lacking a consumer VoIP product. Since it’s a private company, details of its financials are limited, but based on the fact that they completed a $105M series D financing last August and seemingly feel compelled to engage in another 9-figure round of financing sometime soon suggests that they the have..shall we say…a meaningful burn rate; going public might make sense from a financial perspective, as it would allow them to both raise the funds they need for ongoing operations and provide their venture investors a lucrative exit strategy. All I’ve got to say is that if they do go public, I’m in for what I can afford, Ken Lay-esque CEO or not. The company’s estimated pre-money valuation of $950 is approximately double that of what it was last August. I like that growth rate, even if it can only be sustained for a few weeks post-IPO.</p> Tue, 12 Apr 2005 06:00:00 GMT tag:www.jabley.com,2005-04-12:/2005/04/12/vonage-ipo Ohio Restoration Project and Fairfield Christian Church - Illegal Political Action Committees http://www.jabley.com/2005/06/02/ohio-restoration-project-and-fairfield-christian-church-illegal-political-action-committees/ <img alt="ohio" src="http://www.jabley.com/images/ohio.jpg"/> <p>Last night that happened upon what I deem to be perhaps one of the most disturbing efforts I have ever seen to hijack religion for political purposes. I happened across the website of the Ohio Restoration Project (henceforth ORP) a conservative group apparently based out of the Fairfield Christian Church in Lancaster, Ohio. The explicitly-stated purpose of the organization is to enlist thousands of churches across Ohio and to “inform” an anticipated 300,000 voters by way of so-called Pastor Policy Briefings, by distributing literature from conservative candidates and by holding “God and Country Rallies” featuring prominent nonpartisans such as Zell Miller, Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, Chuck Colson, Pat Robertson, and others.</p> <p>To be honest, I salute their efforts to get more people involved in politics. However, the means by which they are conducting themselves is overtly illegal.</p> <p>I’m a huge free speech supporter and I’m more than content to let idiots be idiots, particularly if they manage to do it in a very public, ostentatious manner. My objections are that this represents 1) an explicit violation of the IRS code governing the activities of 501c(3) non-profit organizations and 2) an indirect violation of the First Amendment rights of individual citizens and legitimate Political Action Committees.</p> <p>Objection #1 is obvious. Any church that associates with this organization is explicitly involving in partisan (despite the fact that they claim otherwise—what a ridiculous assertion) political activity and, therefore, is forfeiting their rights to nonprofit status. The signup list for the ORP is ostensibly a signup list to start paying taxes.</p> <p>But let me explain objection #2 a bit more. If I am acting as an individual citizen to advance a certain political cause, I have to fund my efforts with my own money—my own post-tax money to be precise. Similarly, if I form a PAC to advance a certain political cause, I would receive donations from citizens; these citizens would not receive a tax deduction for their contributions. However, if I had a “church” that is involved in political activity, all money donated would be subject to a Federal tax deduction. In other words, if we let this happen, political free speech is more “free” for a church than for individual citizens or political organizations that play by the rules. This, in my view, creates an uneven playing field and represents a violation of First Amendment rights. I’d wager that the ORP and Fairfield Christian might have a problem with tax-exempt status if I created a “Church of Satan” to get preferential tax status, wouldn’t you?</p> <p>So this morning I reported Fairfield Christian Church, whose phone number is listed on the ORP website, to the IRS fraud department for violation of their non-profit status. Additionally, I notified the Ohio Department of Taxation; ODT was particularly interested in these violations and resolved to involve the Ohio AG’s office as well. Good luck with your audits, Fairfield Christian Church; your dollars will now help fund the killing of civilians around the world–maybe even a few babies.</p> <p>Note: Two very odd things happened on their website over the past 24 hours. First, Last night they had one Debbie Smalley listed as the President. Apparently Debbie couldn’t take the heat, so this morning they have a Bill Lavely listed as the President; however, whomever is managing the website apparently forgot to edit the underlying e-mail address, so dksmalley at ohiorestorationproject.com still appears on the scrollover. Second, they had a forum where people could discuss their agenda. These folks are REALLY into censorship, because if you go to their site now, the link to the forum has been removed and the old URL throws a 404 error. There’s some good old American values for you, huh? I can assure you that if ORP members want to make comments on Jabley.com, I’ll show more respect for the concept of free speech and open debate and will let their comments stand.</p> Thu, 02 Jun 2005 06:00:00 GMT tag:www.jabley.com,2005-06-02:/2005/06/02/ohio-restoration-project-and-fairfield-christian-church-illegal-political-action-committees Why Arent There More Investment Bankers http://www.jabley.com/2006/12/13/why-arent-there-more-investment-bankers/ <img alt="investment bankers and finance" src="http://www.jabley.com/images/bankers_fate.jpg"/> <p>I ran across an interesting forum on economist.com that extends upon a post written by Arnold Kling at EconLog. The post examines the issue of compensation, particularly that of exorbitantly paid investment bankers clustered at the favorable tail of the income distribution. In light of these “rents” (economic parlance for what essentially amounts to excess payments), asks Dr. Kling, why aren’t there more investment bankers? I’ve sometimes wondered the same and Kling’s prompting has distilled my thinking on the subject.</p> <p>Kling’s concludes that investment bankers enjoy continually high rents because would-be competitors simply have better things to do with their lives.</p> <blockquote> <p>In short, the distribution of wealth represents differences in taste. Many people prefer jobs with less income and more of other characteristics.</p> <p>I think that many people steer away from finance and accounting as a matter of taste. But people who choose different occupations are not all satisfied with simply making their own choice and letting other people make their choices. Just as there are people who believe that it is in bad taste to smoke or drive an SUV, there are people who believe that it is in bad taste to be an investment banker. And just as there are people who want to see government do something to punish smokers and SUV owners, there are people who want to see government punish those who choose high-income careers.</p> </blockquote> <p>Though operative, this reasoning fails to fully explain why high salaries persist in IB. I’d argue one reason for the theory’s inadequacy resides in its acceptance of some flawed assumptions.</p> <div class="section" id="assumption-1-ib-has-few-barriers-to-entry"> <h3>Assumption #1: IB Has Few Barriers to Entry</h3> <p>Kling offers that, outside of financial knowledge, there exist few barriers to entry in IB.</p> <blockquote> I can see how doctors earn rents–there are obvious barriers to entry. And the field of entertainment generates winner-take-all results, in part because being popular makes you more popular. But a lot of the big money is in finance–investment banking. One would expect more people to go into investment banking and compete away those rents.</blockquote> <p>He continues.</p> <blockquote> I am pretty sure that all of my daughters could master finance if they wanted to. Both economic theory and my wife are telling them that they should major in accounting, but none of them will do so. I may be naive, but I suspect that there are a lot of people who could raise their incomes by going into investment banking. They are not prevented from doing so, but they choose other careers as a matter of taste.</blockquote> <p>My personal observation has been that IB is highly specialized and that there are often substantial barriers, specifically those of the type Kling characterizes as “obvious” in other professions. Take, for example, any of the go-to banks in biotechnology. Most biotech bankers have terminal degrees in their respective fields of science and some have stacked an M.D. on top of their doctoral training for good measure. Those lacking these credentials almost uniformly have extensive experience in industry; few, if any, land these jobs due to accounting prowess or dumb luck. These bankers aren’t paid high wages because they are financial wiz kids (if anything, the financials are simpler in this sector). Rather, they are highly paid because the basic knowledge required to effectively interact with clients creates a relatively high barrier to entry. Though I’m not as familiar with other IB sectors, I suspect this barrier isn’t limited to biotech, but extends to many capital intensive sectors, such as IT, where Dr. Kling has profitably operated.</p> </div> <div class="section" id="assumption-2-banking-is-homogenous"> <h3>Assumption #2: “Banking” is Homogenous</h3> <p>The first comment to Kling’s post (offered by KipEsquire, who has one of the most phenomenal descriptions of a professional life I’ve seen recently) correctly observes:</p> <blockquote> The term “investment banking as a career” is comparable to the terms “health care as a career” or “education as a career” — you are lumping together far too many and too varied occupations for your thesis to have any potency. (P.S. Yes I am an investment banker. No I am not in the top 1% of incomes. Go figure.)</blockquote> <p>Bingo. Like KipEsquire, I’m an “investment banker” who, to this point, has helped raise what amount to seed and VC rounds. Take 7% of what I place, deduct expenses, and I assure you there’s not a seven figure remnant in my firm’s bank account. Lumping the services I provide into the same pot as the fat cats who structure multi-billion dollar M&amp;A transactions is akin to comparing a Ford to a Ferrari; they’re both cars, but the similarities end there. In an addendum, Kling accepts this criticism as valid. Assumption #3: Banking Isn’t Highly Competitive</p> <p>Dr. Kling suggests that IB is a field in which qualified people can move in and out of the field unencumbered by competitive forces (again, note that Kling seemingly argues “qualified” refers to those who possess a mastery of finance, but in the interest of further exploring this idea, let’s also grant these candidates an M.D., Ph.D., or J.D.).</p> <blockquote> I may be naive, but I suspect that there are a lot of people who could raise their incomes by going into investment banking. They are not prevented from doing so, but they choose other careers as a matter of taste.</blockquote> <p>There is an entire cottage industry dedicated to helping people land IB jobs, the existence of which suggests a competitive market (go to amazon.com and search for “investment banking” and you’ll find dozens of career guides, at least one of which is in its 5th edition). I doubt such an industry exists for, let’s say, bank tellers.</p> </div> <div class="section" id="an-alternate-explanation"> <h3>An Alternate Explanation</h3> <p>On a personal level, people that have a head for financial services often don't go into investment banking at any more due several factors. Most end up becoming financial planners managing personal assets for clients directly instead of working at large investment banks and banks in general, such as the <a class="reference external" href="http://www.celticcapitalcorp.com/services/financial_planning.html">financial services houston</a>. Investment bankers often need to have more in their background than just working at a large fund to make it on a more personal level interacting with clients. Such services as those provided a local houston area businesses like <a class="reference external" href="http://www.celticcapitalcorp.com">Celtic Capital Corporation</a> often offer more than just investment advice but also legal counsel.</p> <p>My answer to Kling’s question is admittedly pretty simplistic. At a fundamental level, I think there aren’t more investment bankers for any reason other than the fact that the world simply doesn’t need more of them. If Lehman Brothers or any other well-capitalized firm needed more bankers, they clearly have the resources to hire, train, and pay them exceedingly well. Simply put, banks don’t need more bankers, they need better ones. I’d argue the reasons for this are numerous, but include such things as the volatility of the industry (firms don’t want to hire several bankers only to lay them off a few months later).</p> </div> Wed, 13 Dec 2006 06:00:00 GMT tag:www.jabley.com,2006-12-13:/2006/12/13/why-arent-there-more-investment-bankers How to wake up without feeling groggy http://www.jabley.com/2014/06/15/how-to-wake-up-without-feeling-groggy/ <p>I haven't been able to sleep too well since hitting the ripe old age of thirty. Surely, one is not alone in this problem. The major problem besides waking up in the middle of the night is actually being able to wake up without wanting to smash the snooze button with my fist.</p> <p>When waking up at some fixed time, I seemed to never wake up feeling like I do when I just wake naturally on the weekends when I am not supposed to be anywhere in particular. After doing a little research on sleep cycles, circadian rhythms and whatnot, I came across something called sleep inertia. That is groggy feeling that seems like an overwhelming cloud in the mornings that hangs over until dispersed by time or a tank of coffee. This is caused by waking up in the middle of a sleep cycle. So if a person can just figure out how to avoid waking in between sleep cycles, sleep intertia can be reduced if not eliminated. In comes the <a class="reference external" href="http://whentosleep.com">sleep calculator</a> .</p> <p>With the sleep calculator from <a class="reference external" href="http://whentosleep.com">http://whentosleep.com</a> we can just put in the time we are wishing to wake or fall asleep can a time table is automatically generated with the proper times. One difference between this and other sleep timing apps online is that most of the others assume each cycle is 90 minutes. This is not true! Only the first cycle is 90 minutes with the subsequent cycles running anywhere from 100 to 120 minutes long, depending on the person. The calculator from <a class="reference external" href="http://whentosleep.com">when to sleep</a> has an adjustable input for length of the average cycle that is the average by default but can be tuned over a few days by the user. Check it out, it just may help you reclaim your mornings.</p> Sun, 15 Jun 2014 19:02:00 GMT tag:www.jabley.com,2014-06-15:/2014/06/15/how-to-wake-up-without-feeling-groggy