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December 7, 2007

'Three books it will pay you to avoid'

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Above, the headline over James Altucher's August 7, 2007 Financial Times column.

Altucher has become my favorite FT columnist in recent months as he's expanded his purview from a narrow focus on what stocks to buy to more personal reflections.

Note that the three books to avoid have one thing in common: they're all by him.

He and I would so get along.

The piece follows.

    Three books it will pay you to avoid

    I don't like to write negative book reviews because I never want to do anything to harm someone else's career. Good or bad, people work hard on their books and it's too easy for a reviewer, with only a few destructive words, to slash and burn several years' worth of someone's career. I hate that.

    The last time I wrote a negative book review was in 1994 for In Pittsburgh, a free paper in Pittsburgh. It was review of a novel by Tama Janowitz. I regret it because it was a stupid review and furthermore, I ended up liking the book when I reread it a few years later (during a comprehensive overview I was doing of Janowitz's oeuvre).

    But let's not get distracted from what I intend to do right here.

    Not one, but three, negative book reviews. The books? "Trade Like a Hedge Fund", "Trade Like Warren Buffett" and "SuperCash". All books written by me and I plan to thoroughly skewer them. I'm out of town, in a hotel room, my books spread out in front of me and the contents of the mini-bar of the hotel room littered all over the floor (meaning: I've gone through two canisters of Pringles and a packet of Oreos).

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    I'm going to work my way backwards. First off, I'm embarrassed and distraught over "SuperCash". My tome published in 2006 about alternative strategies for hedge fund managers who wanted to break out of the traditional equity long/short hedge fund model. What was my recommendation? Well, the first chapter, which was a plagiarised rewriting of an article I wrote for the Financial Times in 2004, was a recommendation that people should look at the idea of "hedge funds as the new banks". In other words, hedge funds were the only ones out there willing to lend into the sub-subprime areas of hard money lending, trade factoring, complicated collateralised debt obligations and collateralised loan obligations, etc. Brilliant. Tell that to Harvard, Bear Stearns and the other institutions and individuals who have now lost billions in the asset-backed lending arena. Two years ago every fund of funds manager was dying to learn more about asset-backed lending. Now it's a smoked-out, war-torn ruin, filled with broken dreams. (Yes, overly dramatic. That's why I'm trashing my books.)

    Then I looked at closed-end fund arbitrage. It's a strategy I still believe in. Unfortunately it no longer really exists. Many closed-end funds were trading at up to 15 per cent discounts when I wrote "SuperCash". Those discounts have narrowed to 2-3 per cent or even turned into premiums. That strategy lasted for about a nanosecond. What else? How about the hedge fundI profiled that invested in works of art? Well, that fund shut down. Nice!

    Not everything was bad. The chapters on "Activism" and "Trade Like a Billionaire" evolved into Stockpickr.com: a site I set up with thestreet.com that just hit 100,000 portfolios entered. But the bottom line is this: equities outperform every other asset class over the long run and any attempt to take a short cut (ie the "SuperCash" approach) with an esoteric hedge fund strategy is likely doomed to failure. And, by the way, Wiley, you overpriced the book.

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    Next is "Trade Like Warren Buffett". The only book ever written about Warren Buffett that didn't become a business best- seller. I tried to prove Buffett was a more active trader than people realise, that he's not really a buy-and-hold-forever investor and not even a value investor. I discuss the various techniques he uses to get his margin of safety above and beyond what the typical equity investor uses. This was actually my favourite book of those I've written but as one reviewer on Amazon put it: "Most unfortunately I bought it from a book shop that has no refund policy" and that really says it all.

    I used a favourite author technique of taking up many pages with charts to get over the magic 200-page point. Alas, the entire book is riddled with grammatical errors, befuddling my attempts at coherence. My favourite chapter is my interview with Buffett-style hedge fund manager, Mohnish Pabrai, whose recent claim to fame from last month is that he is spending $650,100 to have lunch with Warren Buffett.

    Finally, my first book, "Trade Like a Hedge Fund", out in 2004, raked me over the coals. The main hedge fund I was trading for (and I was up over 100 per cent for them in the prior 12 months to the book coming out) immediately cut me off because they were worriedI "gave away all my techniques" and then proceeded to brutalise me on various message boards, causing me much personal grief. My favourite chapter "Buying bankruptcies" is still a home-run.

    Pamela, at Wiley, I love you. Don't forget even negative publicity is good publicity. Meanwhile, I'm pleased to say I'm working on book number four and I hope it's my best!

December 7, 2007 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Chocolate Coasters

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From the website:

    Chocolate Coasters

    Chocolate has long been held as a symbol of wealth and luxury.

    Not only does it tempt the palate, but the mere sight of it alone causes certain endocrine glands to secrete hormones that affect your feelings and behaviour by making you happy.

    So why not make yourself happy with this set of 4 chocolate coasters?

    Who wouldn't want to slip one beneath their mug of cocoa or spiked coffee?

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$15 CAD (click on "Kitchen and Tabletop,", then scroll down).

December 7, 2007 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Helpful Hints from joeeze: 'How to fold a fitted sheet like a pro'

A refresher course:

December 7, 2007 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Chain Mail T-Shirt — 'Chain mail is the new black'

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Just think of all the fun you'll have at the airport....

From the website:

    Chain Mail T-Shirt — Chain Mail Is The New Black

    Here at ThinkGeek we consider ourselves experts on geek style. After all, we've been churning out geeky shirts long before it was cool to be a geek. So it should be no surprise that one day during a secret meeting in the dark catacombs beneath the ThinkGeek office the discussion strayed towards geeky apparel that we hadn't yet covered. Timmy (the faithful ThinkGeek monkey mascot) was of the opinion that ThinkGeek had already created enough geeky things and might as well go in another direction... like mime outfits.

    No sooner had Timmy's words been spoken when a low rumbling could be heard far below the catacombs. Moments later a huge explosion rocked the cavern and the floor erupted in a shower of rocks. The terrible beast who shall not be named, the one all ThinkGeek employees thought banished from existence, raised its hideous head from the rubble and turned its gaping maw to the ceiling in a bone chilling roar. As its thousands of razor sharp teeth bit into Timmy... a sigh of relief was uttered from all in attendance. It was obvious to everyone in the room what the next amazing geeky apparel item should be... CHAIN MAIL.

    The ThinkGeek Chain Mail T-Shirt is honest-to-goodness real metal chain mail hand forged by dwarfs in forbidden mines near the center of the earth and delivered to the ThinkGeek warehouse by shrieking black apparitions in the dead of night. Its bright shine and relatively light-weight comes from its anodized aluminum construction. It's appropriate protective wear for most occasions including office meetings and parties you would rather not have attended.


    Important Note:

    The ThinkGeek Chain Mail T-Shirt is real chain mail, made from thousands of anodized aluminum rings. This makes the shirt fairly light (for chain mail) at around 20 pounds. But keep in mind that the aluminum rings can be bent and come uncoupled if you don't take care with the garment. We have included a small bag of extra rings that you can easily bend into place with needle nose pliers if any repairs are needed.


    Tips on Wearing Your New Chain Mail:

    In case you weren't aware, chain mail does not stretch. You cannot put it on one arm at a time like a fabric shirt. Instead lay the chain mail flat on the ground, bend over and thrust both arms into the bottom of the shirt. Work your hands through to the end of the sleeves and then begin to stand-up. Get your head through the neck hole and let the chain mail slide down your body. If you have long hair, make sure to tie up your hair before you wear the chain mail. Otherwise it could get tangled in your hair. You might feel a bit claustrophobic when first wearing the chain mail... but don't worry, you won't get stuck. PLEASE wear a shirt or some other garment underneath the chain mail. The edges of the rings where they are joined together are a bit rough and can scratch you.


    Sizing:

    The Large size Chain Mail T-Shirt will fit people who wear standard T-Shirt sizes XL and XXL. The Medium size Chain Mail T-Shirt is for people who wear Small, Medium or Large standard T-Shirts. Both sizes are pretty forgiving. How long the shirt appears on you will depend on how chubby you are. For skinny people the shirt will hang rather long, while overweight folks will find that the shirt appears shorter because of the way the links spread out horizontally. Women can certainly wear the Chain Mail T-Shirt. We would recommend the Medium size unless you are a very large lady.

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Note: "The Chain Mail T-Shirt is more ornamental than functional."

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$99.99.

December 7, 2007 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

PressDisplay.com — 'Instant access to 500 newpapers from 70 countries in 37 languages'

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It is what it says.

Most interesting.

December 7, 2007 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

podXtreme — 'So much power in such a small space, it should be illegal'

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From the website:

    podXtreme

    Turn your iPod or MP3 player into the life of the party with extreme sound from a device you can fit in your pocket. Boost your bass and fill your room with deep, rich sound.

    No one will suspect that you hold the power to fill an entire room with sound in your pocket. When you pull the podXtreme out for the first time, people might even chuckle. But when they stumble back from the powerful sound this mighty speaker projects, you might just find yourself smiling at their amazement. No other speaker on the market packs such a punch in such a small unit.

    It should be illegal, so much power in such a small space. The podXtreme draws its power from a built-in rechargeable lithium ion battery that is recharged via your USB port (or you can plug it into the the wall). Drawing upon its own power source, the podXtreme allows you to listen to music with much more volume and for a longer period of time than a speaker that pulls power from your MP3 or iPod.

    The secret resonator provides the podXtreme with such a powerful bass boost that you're going to need to pimp out your iPod or MP3 player with spinners. Operating the same way as a quality subwoofer, the secret resonator helps to elongate your sound through the expanded tunnel, creating a deeper bass and richer sound. Who knew that such rich sound could be produced from such a tiny device? The podXtreme is your gateway to rich, powerful, party causing sound. Start making plans now because as soon as you order the podXtreme, the party is getting started.

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Nothing like a bit of understatement to quietly amplify, what?

$$29.95.

December 7, 2007 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

How to diet, lose weight AND eat exactly what you want*

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I just figured it out: genius!

Oh, I see how it is — I'm supposed to tell you so you can make a mint off my idea.

Okay.

Buy some Zapp's Hotter 'N Hot Jalapeño Potato Chips (top).

Eat one.

It'll be a while before your second if you're anything like me.

Make these chips your sole™ food (note to crack legal team: copyright/trademark that) and watch the pounds melt off.

Here's a link to Zapp's.

Tell Ron I sent you — then listen for the sound of silence.

*As long as you want nothing but Zapp's Hotter 'N Hot Jalapeño Potato Chips

December 7, 2007 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

For the Geek Girl Who Has Everything: Swarovski Philips Heart Beat Flash Drive

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From the website:

Heart Beat USB Memory Key

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USB memory key disguised as a heart pendant on a silver silk cord.

Polished stainless steel heart combined with Silver Shade crystals set in Ceralun™.

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The two halves are held together with a pin.

For 1 GB of data (about 250 songs or 1,000 photos) with password protection and high-speed USB 2.0 interface.

1-11/16" x 1-3/4" x 3/4".
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Prediction: These will sell out in a heartbeat.

Fair warning.

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$180.
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2009 price break: $142.63

December 7, 2007 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

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