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Graphical Analysis of Rap Lyrics

My sister sent me an email with the hilarious graphs pictured below. It is too funny not to share. Enjoy.

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Politics, Markets, Presidential Nominations

Donkey vs Elephant

I’ve been captivated by the presidential nomination process and have been consuming all the information I can handle relating to the debates, speeches, endorsements, posturing, etc. The polarizing, counter-productive nature of American politics bothers me but I make it a point to try to stay informed. So as not to alienate or terribly offend anyone, I subconsciously adopted a common, practically failsafe method of engaging in political conversations with co-workers and acquaintances: never take a side, always play the cynic. It’s really a cowardly, easy out. In Good Will Hunting, Sean (played by Robin Williams) confronts Will (played by Matt Damon) and his similar approach to women: “I think that’s a super philosophy, Will, that way you can go through your entire life without ever having to really know anybody.” Don’t worry, I’m not going to address my cowardice here.

CNN put together a cool tool called Political Market that is right up my alley. According to CNN, the “goal of CNN Political Market is to combine the opinions of a diverse group of people to try and predict the probability of an event occurring or the value of something”. I don’t have to take sides; I just have to predict outcomes. I created an account today and bought shares. A couple of widgets that track performance on the answer to a question I am particularly interested in are pasted below. If you’re inclined give it a shot.

Creative Capitalism

The Wall Street Journal’s Robert Guth interviewed Bill Gates ahead of his speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Guth says “the software tycoon plans to call for a ‘creative capitalism’ that uses market forces to address poor-country needs that he feels are being ignored.” In the video interview, Gates talks about the bottom third–the bottom 2 billion–and how they’re not doing too well. It is important and wonderful for influential citizens like Gates to care about and want to address poverty. He intends to encourage companies to create businesses that make profits by building products and services for the poor. In The Wealth of Nations Adam Smith talks about the selfish motivations of individuals benefiting the collective and Gates is counting on those motivations to serve the poor. If the attitudes and ideas of the British are any indicator, we better rely on selfish motivations because empathy is nearly non-existent.

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Baltimore Sports: Football Season

2 times the disappointment, 2 times the hate, 2 times the blood alcohol content

The following post was written by my youngest brother Jared. He is a high school junior who plays soccer and tennis and aspires to be a professional comedic writer.

On Sunday, December 29, or Week 17 as most male Americans know it as, I had the pleasure of attending (thanks to the Spearman family) my first ever Baltimore Ravens game. And what a first game to go to – against the Steelers! the Ravens arch rival (hated just like those Yankees!). Okay, it was week 17, when most teams seasons had been decided for better or worse, sure neither starting Quarterback or Running Back were playing, yeah Ray Lewis – the face of the Ravens – was limited to doing his dancing in a cast and heavy jacket on the sidelines, fine the Ravens had lost 8 ½ * straight, whatever if the Steelers were going to the playoffs, and alright it was 38 degrees and raining, but I was excited to go. Honestly, in my excitement I didn’t even realize 4 of 6 of those things until I heard the guys in my section having a P + M session about the Ravens disappointing season before kickoff.

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Snow! In Atlanta!

Words to avoid

I clicked on a link to a funny Reuters article that was sitting in the RSS feed that lives above my Gmail page. The article was written by Andrew Stern and it summarized what he called a “well-known jab at the worlds of media, sports, advertising and politics” that is put out by the public relations department at Lake Superior State University. It takes at least a little arrogance to put out such a list so Stern pokes fun at the fun-pokers by using the so-called phrases to avoid repeatedly in his article. Perhaps the superiority complex revealed in the cockiness of the department’s jabs is a byproduct of the university’s name or more likely it is simply coincidental as the list was put out by academics.

Phrases targeted include “a perfect storm”, “webinar”, “random”, “sweet”, “organic” (because it refers to anything from dog food to software), “back in the day”, and “it is what it is”.
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Friending Strategies

Today Mark Cuban detailed his strategy for maintaining a manageable list of friends on facebook in his blog post My New Facebook Strategy and the FB Power Level. facebook‘s 5000 friend limit strong-armed him into concocting a strategy. Peons like me do not have such problems, but if I did I imagine I would adopt a similar strategy. In paring down his list Cuban decided to keep and accept friends who fall into 3 groups: 1-real friends who he knows, 2-people with common interests or a business connection, and 3-the motivation behind this blog post, the “power layer” which is defined as “people who in whatever industry they are in, retain some level of power.” I left a semi-sarcastic comment saying that a new goal in my life is to make the power layer.

Friending is a topic that is discussed ad nauseum on blogs and in newspapers and magazines. The online space certainly adds a new dimension to relationships.  I’m not so popular in the Robert Scoble, Mark Cuban sense that I have the problem of reaching limits.  I would say that I value quality over quantity but frankly speaking most of my friends are of questionable quality.

Persona Unattractive: You’ve got a little beard thing

Just a few months after I started working from home I was having a “discussion” with my wife when she made the scathing statement: “Your whole persona is….unattractive!”

A few days after that comment was made I received this clipping courtesy of my father-in-law.

I value efficiency and substance over convention.

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Blog Action Day

Blog Action Day

Update: Google’s participation in Blog Action Day detailed here

Thanks to my dad, I learned that today is blog action day. The idea behind blog action day is to raise awareness about environmental issues. The idea was conceived by three bloggers. The tagline is:

What would happen if every blog published posts discussing the same issue, on the same day? One issue. One day. Thousands of voices.

I registered this site, ahelms.com, and committed to post something related to the environment today even though I had no clue what to write about. Environmental issues are very complex and to be honest, none are near or dear to my heart. Even so I try to be a good steward of this earth and benefit my own quality of life. I think that making environmental issues a part of the collective consciences is a big part of the battle.

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Escalators: stand, walk or apply economic theory?

My favorite comedian, the late Mitch Hedberg, had this to say about escalators. “An escalator can never break. It can only become stairs. You would never see an ‘Escalator Temporarily Out Of Order’ sign, just ‘Escalator Temporarily Stairs. Sorry for the convenience.'”

Now that MARTA (Metro Atlanta Transit Authority), Altanta’s Metro, is my main mode of transportation I’ve been spending more time on escalators; I’ve been intrigued and slightly irritated by people’s habits on said escalators. I must say I would not be surprised if I witnessed something like this at a MARTA station or my office.

Usually I am alone when I experience the phenomenon of people treating escalators like a lazy river. I sometimes picture escalators leading to the top of a cliff and wonder if people would willingly accept a fatal destiny because they seem so content to simply let the escalator dictate their pace and direction.

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