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Nan Goldin

I went to MOMA solely to check out Nan Goldin’s piece in “4 decades of contemporary art”.  Before I really like the rawness in her photo and her choice of unedited color.  It expose us to a sub culture of woven in the fabric of our society that many are not willing to see.  But this installation look too much like an exploitation of her friends.  And the reason for the beautiful cyan i love was just that the color of her wall happened to be cyan.

Add comment March 23rd, 2009


There is one new Chinese trick that Americans learned today called 秋後算帳. In the old days, when farmers try to lease land from their landlord every year, landlord would use this term to mean they will determined the rent after Autumn’s harvest. More often than not they will be more than the farmer expects. But then again they have no choice. Under the eyes of contractual law, such term is unfairly favoring the landlord, as the terms are determined after the contract has been executed and forced upon the farmer by the landlord.

As a capitalist society, today marks a dark day when the congress decided to retroactively change the term of a contract already executed. It is requiring employees who work in companies that received “bailout money” to pay a 90% tax on their bonus. Of course the money has already been accepted. And if the companies know of such term I bet the majority of them who have a choice would not take the money. I bet many ate thinking how they can payback the govt right now.

The issue here is not whether these people deserve the money, but the spirit that a deal is a deal, a contract is a contract. It’s unfortunate that we the tax payer is paying for these greedy bastards who caused the crisis. But shaking investors confidence in our contractual settlement system will cost us far more than whatever money we can’t collect. Suck it up and deal with it.

Add comment March 20th, 2009

Moral Harzard

A deal is a deal, at least that’s what our economic foundation was founded on.  I said “was” because as the economy spiral downward, a lot of deal that made sense before all of a sudden doesn’t.  And people at the short end of the stick are starting to cry foul.  I read this story in NYT this weekend about Dow Chemical’s aquisition of a campany called Rohm & Hass.  Almost every opinion in the article agrees that the deal doesn’t make sense in this economic time.  But the opinions also agreeded that a deal is a deal and it should be completed as agreeded.  It’s hard to argue against something so fundamental.

Add comment February 10th, 2009

Tax deduction

I wonder what valuation can you use if you donate CDO securities to non-profits.  If you can value it with 0 default, it might be worth more as a tax deduction…

Add comment December 28th, 2008

Gilt Groupe Membership Invite

Gilt Groupe is a members only discount site for designer clothes. I was able to grab a pair of Marc Jacob dress pants the other day for $88. It’s stuff is newer than Bluefly and typical discount is about 60% – 70%. Launched by the guys at Silicon Alley. I have a few invite left.

You cab get to the invites here http://www.gilt.com/invite/kv0

Add comment December 24th, 2008

Catherine Opie

Went to see Catherine Opie’s exhibition at the Guggenheim a few weeks ago. At first I wanted to see it because I read somewhere that her work is a lot like Nan Goldin. But I was amazed by this mid career survey that Catherine has many lines of work which are equally amazing.

Catherine starts her career with portrait. Unlike Golden, all her portrait are elaborately staged to create a very “in your face” effect. She almost exclusively uses large format cameras, adding a lot of details into her image, making them much much more powerful. She has a transition series in the style of Tina Barney. Her next set of work is on American cites and highway system, which Guggenheim managed to get a collection of 5 or 6 series. I can not imagine someone can make such a big transition in artistic style.

Amazing technique, amazing subjects. Can’t wait to see what comes next.

Add comment December 19th, 2008

Dear president bush

Dear president Bush

I would like to congratulation on your decision to consider using the 700 billion dollar originally allocated to stabalize the banking system to bail out the auto industry. There is nothing more delighted to see our government supporting philantropy at a time like this. I am a small business man in New York city, and I too run a money loosing business. My business model calls for me occasionally take our fine young tax paying female to suppport our local resturant, bars, florist, theater and other hard working merchants. But for some reason I don’t make any money on my business. That’s a shame because my business do support a lot of hard working americans who may loose their job otherwise. I am writing to you on behave of these good american tax paying citizens that you give me a bailout. To show some comitment, I’ll be taking my date on the subway instead of a cab. I will look forward to your check in the mail.


Add comment December 14th, 2008

SEC shutting down peer to peer lending site Prosper

SEC outlines its reasoning for shutting down P2P lending Prosper citing that since the intention for lending is to expect a certain rate of return, it fits the definition of investing. Therefore the market enabler should be regulated. There are people who believed the SEC is focusing on the wrong thing and going after the small investor who is turning a small profit. I happen to agree with the SEC. What other people do with their money is none of my problem, but how many people who lend on prosper you think actually have an understanding on how current economic condition will affect the default rate of the loans they are making.

I am not saying having financial knowledge will allow you to make a better loan decision, but most people I’ve seen lending on P2P site operate solely on the default rate and interest given by the site based on historical data. When you simplify a loan which has various forward credit risk and interest rate risk into a simply expected rate of return and sell that to the public, that’s no difference than what got the big guys into the CDO mess in the first place.

Add comment November 27th, 2008

Electric Range

I had to shop for an electric range for my mom’s place over the weekend.  We went to Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Best Buy; and I asked the sale the same question: “Which one of these is more powerful?”  Asian cooking requires a higher temperature so the ingredients can be cook in a shorter amount of time before the cellulose structure breaks down making the vegetable soggy.  It also help to seal the juice inside those bite size slices of meat using only one round of cooking.

I would think that’s a pretty common question.  After all, gas range do tell you that information in the form of BTU.  BTU stands for British thermal unit, and it represent the amount of energy need to raise the temperature of 1 lb of water by 1 degree.  Simply put, heating or cooling power.  As it turns out, measuring power is pretty simple for gas range.  Gas range produce heat by burning natural gas.   A working range will burn the fuel completely, meaning there will be no wasted unburned part that stick to the bottom of your pan or dissolve into the air.  Assuming we don’t do any mixing or pressurizing of the fuel, how much power the range can produce is directly related to the flow of gas regulated by the range head.  The bigger the head, the more powerful the range.  Heat is then transfer to the pot to cook our food.
Electric range generate heat by passing electric current through the coil element.  The resistant property in the coil element will heat up and glow red.  Heat is then transfer from the coil to smooth surface, then to the pot to cook our food.  The higher the resistant, the greater the heat being generated, the higher the current draw.  In theory we can measure the current draw in watts and assess the power output of the range.  So I am surprise that makers of electric ranges don’t make that information.

The reality is these numbers are a little bit more complicated.  The efficiency in which the coil covert electricity into heat is different in different brands and model.  The heat tranfer ability of the glass or ceremic cover is also different.  There is no standard of measuring how much of that wattage is being transferred to the pot, and how much is being used to heat the coil, the air around it and the smooth top.  That makes comparing gas vs electric range virtually impossible.

What consumer advocate group should do is to test the different makes and model of ranges in the market for efficiency and speed of heating 1 gallon of water at a controlled environment.  All I want to know is which model within my budget can boil a pot of water at the shortest amount of time and what my energy cost is going to be !!  

1 comment August 28th, 2008

Tempura Bar

NYC has it fair share of authentic edo style sushi and kansei kaiseki; and until recently an almost authentic ramen place and soba place.  But we still haven’t had an authentic tempura bar.  In Japan tempura is a specialty like sushi usually served in tempura bars.  Item and batter are freshly made, fried in low temperature into a light and fluffy cloud.  There are couple of palces that has good tempura, but none of them sepcialize in just that.  As it turns out, there was one near Soto called FryBar that opened for about 8 months.  It folded due to lack of demand :(   too bad I didn’t get to try it before it closes.

Add comment August 23rd, 2008

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