Bank transparency

I keep a certain amount of my investments in CDs.  Each time one matures, I move banks to get the best rate.

According to my best research, two banks were tied for the highest interest rate for 5-year CDs right now.

  • Bank A: 2.25% APR.  Penalty for early withdrawl is 6 months interest.

  • Bank B: 2.25% APR.  "There may be a penalty for early withdrawl"

Wait... what?  What does that mean? Nowhere on their website do they say what it means.  So I called them up and spoke with their very friendly CSR who explained the penalty is 180 days of standard interest. This is pretty much what I expect and seems to be the industry standard.

Ok, so really my choice is:

  • Bank A: 2.25% APR. Being up-front.

  • Bank B: 2.25% APR.  Making customers work to get the information that any investment book would tell them to get before they invest.

As you can guess, I went with Bank A.

And I let Bank B know that their website needs some editing. https://twitter.com/yesthattom/status/619978179575296000

Even if they are able to show me where their website has that information, it is too late now.  I've sent my millions (well... millions of microcents) to their competitor.  (Oh, and if anyone from Synchrony Bank is reading this... the page that needs to be updated is this one.)

My next CD to mature is before the end of the year.  If they have the highest APR and have edited their web page, they're back in the running.

NOTE: I'm sure someone is going to point out that I could get a better return with something other than CDs.  Actually most of my money is elsewhere. This is my emergency fund which has a month or two expenses liquid and the rest in CDs.  All my other investments are managed professionally.


San Francisco, here I come! (July 9-13, 2015)

I'll be in SF for a 4-day weekend.  I'll be speaking at Meetups on Thurs and Monday.  Bored and looking for things to do on Fri / Sat / Sun. (ok.... ok, not really that bored, but if you wanna hang out, let me know!)


Elephant and gorillas

I keep seeing people get these expressions wrong. I'm writing them down here so I can link to them later.

  • "the elephant in the room" -- The uncomfortable thing that everyone knows but isn't talking about. A drunk father complains "why is everything so messed up?" and nobody talks about the elephant in the room... his alcoholism.

  • "white elephant" -- Something you can't get rid of; that costs more to dispose of than to keep.  Related: a white elephant sale or auction is a charity event held soon after Christmas where items are sold that have been donated by members.  If you received a "white elephant" for Christmas, you bring it to this event and donate it so that the charity can make money and the gift can find a home by someone that would appreciate the item.

  • "Seeing pink elephants" -- a euphemism for drunken hallucination. Old cartoons would show a drunk person hallucinating and what they would see is pink elephants.

  • "The 800 pound gorilla" -- The big thing that nobody even tries to fight, usually a company; so big they don't have to obey the law or pay attention to competitors. In the 1970s, IBM was the 800 pound gorilla that nobody would even consider fighting. In the 1990s that was Microsoft.

Things that are wrong wrong wrong:

  • The 900 pound gorilla.  Where did the extra 100 pounds come from?

  • "The 800 lb elephant". Mixed metaphor.

  • "the white elephant in the room".  Mixed metaphor.

  • "the 900 pound gorilla in the room".  Mixed metaphor; wrong mass.


String theory theory

I wonder if there would be more funding for String Theory if there was an obvious weapon that could be built as the result of the research.

I suspect the reason String Theory can't be used to build a weapon is that, if I understand the situation correctly, included in the theory is the quality that we can't touch it or prove/disprove it by means of physical evidence. You can't build a new kind of bomb out of something we can't see or touch.

If that's what holds back funding, then we should find the jerk that wrote the paper saying that String Theory has that particularly quality. I mean... fuck! ... he could have held back that one important detail, right?

He ruined it for everyone!


Yahoo Messenger web interface? Ugh.

Yahoo! has stopped supporting Yahoo Messanger for Mac. I don't know why but that's not relevant.

Instead they make you use their web-based client which isn't too bad. However it does have 2 problems:

1. I have 1 account with 3 aliases. I can't tell which alias someone is chatting to when they send to me. Can anyone tell me how to figure this out?

2. The web client doesn't support sending files. This is ok because I can use other systems to send files.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to fix the first issue?



This is so egotistical but I had to say it somewhere...

3 months and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Limoncelli still doesn't mention the new book (by the way, wikipedia policy prohibits me from editing that page)


I'll be in Philly on Wednesday night

Hey Philly friends!

I will be speaking at the Philadelphia area Linux Users' Group (PLUG) meeting on Wednesday night (Oct 1st). They meet at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia (USP). My topic will be "Highlights from The Practice of Cloud System Administration" and I'll have a few copies of the book to give away.

For more info, visit their website: http://www.phillylinux.org/meetings.html

Hope to see you there!


Damn you, LinkedIn!

I swear I clicked "cancel" but obviously I have instructed LinkedIn to tell the world I wanted to connect with them them. Every mailing list I'm on seems to have received an invitation.

I have a feeling I'm going to get a lot of angry email today. So, if you received an invitation, please ignore it. My apologizes.



Assignment Day

Look how many teen movies have a day at which kids of a certain age are assigned their future role as part of a big ceremony:

The Giver
Harry Potter
City of Ember
The Hunger Games

1) What's up with this trope? Does it resonate with teens or is it just a convenient plot device?

2) I figured there would be a wikipedia page that lists books/films with this plot device but I couldn't find one. Of course, it is a difficult thing to search for. I'd love to see a full list.


My campaign advice to Hillary Clinton

When Barbara Buono ran against Chris Christie for governor of New Jersey her campaign was slow to react to the negative onslaught that Christie had prepared. The moment she announced her running make, the Christie campaign had an immediate reply so that the very same news cycle would be filled not with why she's a good running-made but with Christie's attacks and the fact that the Buono campaign hasn't replied yet.

If you remember when Dukakis ran for president he refused to respond to any attacks on the theory that it just gives them credibility. As a result, he looked like an idiot. In this 24/7 news cycle, if you don't have an immediate response, cable TV news has 24 hours of nothing to say but to repeat the attack.

Four years after Dukakis, a Democratic candidate surprised the world by actually fighting back. He set up a "war room" and made sure that every attack was responded to immediately. They used a "flood the field" technique so that each attack received 100 responses. Did it work? Well, that candidate was your husband, Bill Clinton, and he won that election against all odds.

Eight years later Al Gore chose the Dukakis strategy. He didn't want to look unpresidential. As a result, one of the most honest men in politics was painted as a "compulsive liar" ("he claims the film Love Story was written about him! he says he invented the internet!"). He kind of won, but then lost at the supreme court because he figured, heck, if we are just honest the good and honest courts will follow the law and how could we possibly lose. Meanwhile Cheney right away saw that this would be won or lost in the media and nothing else mattered. If you recall, Al Gore did not become president.

Then John Kerry followed the Dukakis/Gore strategy and lost.

Then Obama used the "war room" strategy and won. Twice. He made an interesting change to the strategy... he was never the one to respond because he didn't want to look like "the angry black man". Instead he had legions of surrogates responding so he didn't have to.

So now it is your turn. Are you going to be the unprepared Barbara Buono or the well-prepared, Clinton-esque, ready-to-fight, go-getter?

Based on who you hired to run your earlier campaign, I have zero hope. You are surrounded by "yes men" and "yes women" that are in a bubble, confusing inevitability in the primary with inevitability in election. This isn't going to be an easy win. They have 20+ years of "attack research" sitting in a warehouse just waiting to be used. Just because they didn't get to use it in 2008, doesn't mean they don't still have it.

If I see Mark Penn on your campaign staff again, or any sign that there is no war room, or that the war room is fucked up, I swear I don't know what I'm gonna do.

Pissedd that Christie is still my governor.


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