Our Destiny

Awesome post by Wayne Hale

http://blogs.nasa.gov/cm/blog/waynehalesblog/posts/post_1264807222807.html

Wayne expressed in much better words what I feel about the destiny of humanity. During the recent Earth Hour craziness, my thoughts were “F* Earth, Lets go to Mars!” . 🙂

“George—I would cheat, lie, steal, beg, bribe—do anything to accomplish what we have accomplished.”

– Delos D Harriman

Here’s to you Delos, may there be at least one like you, who does not give a hoot for the methods as long as The Goal is achieved.

Fighting Depression

Simple and easy steps to get back to being normal when you are depressed

  1. Go to xkcd.com. Click random. Enjoy at least 10 cartoons. World will look different.
  2. Pick up “The man who sold the moon”. Start Reading. FTW (in the biker slang) is the word that comes into mind.
  3. Go to www.rainymood.com. Start playing. World will seem serene.
  4. Take a bath. Let the hot water take away all the thoughts in your mind. Peace at last.
  5. Go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASA. Keep exploring. World and the future will seem to have limitless possibilities.
  6. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7n71pm0K04. Carl Sagan is inspiring to say the least. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSgiXGELjbc is also good. 🙂
  7. Get bone tired. Go for a really long walk, do some exercise, wash clothes :). Get so tired that brain is incapable of forming complex thoughts. In such a state, brain reverts to its basic survival mechanism and puts the depressing thoughts to the background.

Edited : Added point 7.

Antilibrary

A friend posted a new blog.
This is my response to her idea about buying only good books once you have read them.

I dont agree that you should buy only those books that you like. I believe in the concept of Antilibrary (Coined by Nassim Taleb in The Black Swan). I believe that purpose of books is to give you knowledge and also to make you realise what you dont know yet. All those racks of great books that you have left unread will keep pulling you towards them, tantalising you. A book has value only when it is unread. Once it is read, it is already a part of you and it becomes a little less valuable. In conclusion, buy books. Money cant be spent on a more worthwhile cause. 🙂

Soft Dollars

Something I had written for a class assignment.

Soft Dollars – Defined
Soft Dollars is a quid pro quo arrangement in which an investment house gets research service from a brokerage house in return for carrying out trades through that brokerage firm. This is in contrast to hard dollars where in the investment house pays the brokerage house directly (in dollars).

In the United States, Soft Dollar transactions are governed under section 28(e) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. More complex example of Soft Dollar involves providing increased commision to a brokerage firm for a service provided by a third party. The brokerage firm then redirects the payment to the third party. For Example, an investment firm (INV) rents private jets for its senior management from a travel agency (TA) and pays an increased commission to its brokerage firm (BF). The brokerage firm then redirects the payment to the travel agency. If INV pays directly to TA, it has to issue a check (or a wire transfer) to the agency and this transaction would have to be recorded in the companies books. The cost is then passed on to the clients of INV. By using Soft Dollars, INV is able to hide this transaction in the transaction cost of the trades. The cost is eventually passed on to the clients.

The major concern about soft dollars is that it is not suffiently transparent.

Section 28(e) provided a safe harbor for advisors who paid extra commission for research and other services. In 1986 SEC extended its interpretation of Section 28(e) to include other mixed services including computer hardware.
The major expenditure on SD is to buy investment research, the value of which is very difficult to quantify. Using SD to pay for the research rather than Hard Dollar results in less due dilligence in making sure that you are getting the bang for the money spent. John C Bogle contends that soft dollar expenditures reduces the quality of internal research making the firms more dependent on external research and thus increasing soft dollar expenditure. This eventually results in reduced share holder value.

Thus in conclusion, though Soft Dollar is an attractive tool for the investment firms, its utility to the clients of the firm is highly doubtful. As it takes the transaction off the books, proper accounting of the deals do not take place thus increasing the chances for fraud.