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J. Edgar Mihelic's Profile

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J. Edgar Mihelic "Skyscraper" RSS Feed (Brookfield, IL)

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A People's History of the United States: 1492 to Present
A People's History of the United States: 1492 to Present
by Howard Zinn
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.83
467 used & new from $3.40

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some plusses and minuses., April 9, 2014
Here's the deal.

Reading this book can be a chore. It takes some time, and is kind of dense.

The down side is that if you read this book at the right time of your life it can change your worldview. That's not without its problems. You have to take down your 80s posters with pictures of fast cars. You have to throw out your Ayn Rand books. You'll no longer be welcome at the Von Mises institute,

But here's the plus side. There's never a wrong time to read this book.

The Rent Is Too Damn High: What To Do About It, And Why It Matters More Than You Think
The Rent Is Too Damn High: What To Do About It, And Why It Matters More Than You Think
Offered by Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
Price: $3.79

4.0 out of 5 stars Much better than the star rating would have you believe., April 4, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
My normal position on Matt is that he needs kicked in the teeth. I know him as the economics blogger at Slate.

You know he "only" has a BA in philosophy. Sure, sure, it's from "Harvard". But that really means it was taught by advanced grad students. My state degree came from actual "Doctors".

And his Slate stuff was often insufferable. I don't think it was entirely his fault though. He has to spill a lot of content.

I really thought he was an insufferable writer, but then I read this.

Matt shows how current zoning is bad for both left and right reasons. Maybe we should allow better and smarter zoning so that more dense development is allowed where the market asks for it. If the measure of a book is that is convinces a reader of the writer's position, this book works (in spite of my preconceived notions of Matt's writings).

The only issue, as it remains with all public policy books, is the "What is to be done" section. I have an appreciating piece of land in an inner-ring suburb of Chicago. Why would I accommodate what he wants? Otherwise, go Matt, I might want to learn how to spell "Yglesias".

Flash Boys
Flash Boys
by Michael Lewis
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.76
124 used & new from $10.91

18 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Who will play Brad Katsuyama in the Movie?, April 3, 2014
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This review is from: Flash Boys (Hardcover)
Michal Lewis is a national treasure. He is able to take complex things and make them accessible to people like your mom - if you want to be condescending to your mother. In a way, he is one of the best nonfiction writers in English working today. I'd put him up there with Bill Bryson. But you know that already. This is a Michael Lewis book. You know: the guy who wrote Liar's Poker, Moneyball, The Big Short, and that other book you like.

What Lewis does is take a look at an issue, but he does this thing where instead of boring you with a lot of details, he tells the story of a person (For real - this book has no index, no endnotes) and the problem they face and the cool things they do. The person isn't really usually that far removed from what we imagine ourselves to be, but perhaps a better version than the self we really are. In Flash Boys, that person is Brad Katsuyama. Katsuyama was a worker on the exchange for the Royal Bank of Canada. He noticed that there were issues with trading. Namely that the trades that his traders were trying to make basically disappeared in front of him when they tried to execute them.

This lead the reader to go on a journey led by Lewis as the reader follows along with Katsuyama as everyone learns what the issue was and why those trades were disappearing. Mainly the story is computers, software, and companies using their smarts to insert themselves in the middle of a trade.

Eventually Brad and the reader learn all about this and is disenchanted with the system as it exists so he sets out to change this. His mission is to create a new exchange that disarms the smart "High Frequency Trading" and levels the playing field for everyone. It's a good story, and Lewis tells it well.

My issue with it is that with the structure of the story, where it focuses on Katsuyama and his team, is that it is one-sided. The implicit message is that they are the good guys and the HFT guys are the bad guys. If you don't know much about the world that Lewis describes then you take it for granted that he is right. The last third of the book becomes an advertisement for the exchange that was started. It has started a lot of conversations amongst finance and economic people about the value of HFT, but that is nowhere in the book. Does it help price discovery; does it provide liquidity; does it make trading more efficient ? Or is HFT just predatory; is it pure rent as Lewis quotes someone "The market is all about algos and routers. It's hard to figure this stuff out. There's no book you can read ." (209)? I don't know, but thankfully this book is bringing those issues.

Ultimately, I have to hoist a footnote that Lewis writes that sums up the whole book for me: "'Glitch' belongs in the same category as `liquidity' or for that matter, `high frequency trading.' All terms used to obscure rather than to clarify, and to put minds to early rest."(203). Lewis lets in his editorial voice come in to show that even though he has written a whole book there is an inexactness to defining what HFT is - you have to get to the nitty-gritty to really know (He recommends a couple of books in the text but I didn't highlight them). Because in the end, this book is only tangentially about HFT. It is really about Brad Katsuyama. All I wonder is who is going to play him in the movie

TweetCaster for Twitter (and Facebook)
TweetCaster for Twitter (and Facebook)
Offered by Appstore - US - MP - Offer
Price: $0.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Good Fire Twitter Client, April 2, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I like Tweetcaster. I have two other twitter clients on my Kindle, but this is the one I use the best, it is better than both Twitter's interface and the Janetter app. What makes t better specifically is that it gives suggestion for the people you're @-replying or it helps complete your hashtags.

I can't give it five stars because there are times where there is just a huge section of my stream that doesn't get loaded, and if I'm trying to read all the way down, the three hour missing chunk is a distraction. That chunk is the reason I have even tried other apps.

All that said, as far as I know Tweet Deck isn't available easily on the Fire. If it was, I would use the heck out of that.

Bandsintown Concerts
Bandsintown Concerts
Offered by Appstore - US - MP - Offer
Price: $0.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars No need for an app., April 1, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Bandsintown Concerts (App)
The app doesn't really give you any more function than a website would. It is an app that exists solely to claim that an app exists.

Ernie Ball 4222 Guitar Polish with Cloth
Ernie Ball 4222 Guitar Polish with Cloth
Price: $4.99
10 used & new from $4.79

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice inexpensive polish, April 1, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I bought this set mainly because I wanted a cheap micro-fiber cloth to polish off my guitars. For the price of just a microfiber cloth, this set throws in a polish.

The cloth is just what I wanted. It is soft and I feel good rubbing it on my instrument. I wish there were a little pouch that came with it so you can keep it separate -- mine is right now in a ziploc bag in my basement with my other loose gear. The polish is just that -- it is works to bring out a shine, but it is not a cleaner. You also have to be careful about where on your instrument you get the polish; there is a bit of wax in there and it is not string-friendly.

Here's the Deal (Kindle Single)
Here's the Deal (Kindle Single)

4.0 out of 5 stars Short, sensible, and hopeless., April 1, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Leonhardt -- of the Times -- here puts together a short little look at what the current budget problem entails (He wrote in early 2013, but it is still applicable as of this writing). His basic look is that in real terms there is no such thing as a free lunch, and to bring the deficit and the debt into balance, we need a combination of tax raises and spending cuts. The tome is hopeful in tone and entirely sensible, and therefore his normative statements are completely out of the realm of possibility in today's political arena.

Rocksmith 2014 Edition - Playstation 3 (Cable Included)
Rocksmith 2014 Edition - Playstation 3 (Cable Included)
Price: $66.97
65 used & new from $54.99

4.0 out of 5 stars I love this game, but one critique, March 19, 2014
I have played the prior version, but I have spent more time with this one. The servers say I am at sixty or so hours. I'm not a gamer, so that seems like a whole lot to me.

Here's the thing about Rocksmith, from a beginner's standpoint. You will get a lot better. Period. I feel so much more comfortable with the format here than puzzling over books and youtube videos. You will make mistakes, but the game adjusts. It is an incredible pedagogical tool masquerading as a game.


And this is just my feelings on it, but, I feel a bit of a parrot. I can play the songs (better on the bass, less on the guitar) as they are presented but I have not memorized any. I can't just sit down and jam out, because the game throws these things at you that you can get good at without any understanding of music. It tries to force you to experiment, in the jam session mode, but that has been a leap for me. I have an overall understanding of music, and I can play, but it lacks a certain nudge. I know I need to find that in myself, but I am at the point where I need lessons and to talk to someone and to read books. I like that I am at this point and I hope I continue perusing it, but this game is not the final point. That is something you need to conjure from inside your self.

Good luck.

The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well Is the Key to Success
The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well Is the Key to Success
by Megan McArdle
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.84
77 used & new from $10.08

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good writer who I don’t hate anymore, March 11, 2014
My first encounter with McArdle’s work was in the Atlantic, when she was the business editor.
I hated her work for the Atlantic. It was, in fact, a major reason I stopped my subscription (That and a lack of editorial consistency with a redesign every year. Say what you want about Harper’s, at least they’re consistent). Mainly I hated that the magazine that was so progressive in so many ways both currently and historically would employ a libertarian to do their business and economic coverage.

I like her a lot more now. I think perhaps our economic and political positions have come closer together through mutual moderation.

I like this book, though it is a bit uneven. The ostensible thesis is that we need to be able to fail better, so that our outcomes are more like those of a forager, who shares his/her individual bounty with the group and less like the farmer who fails alone (50). I support a libertarian coming to terms with the need for collective solutions, and I was shocked to even see McArdle call for something like the WPA (186) even if she does spend considerable time bashing unions and government investment in green technology (130).

The thing is, though, the best written, and the most interesting parts of this book are not the ones that speak directly to the thesis. In a somewhat divergent structural method from a lot of social scienc book, McArdle speaks about her life a lot. She has come face to face with relative failure, spending two years unemployed. These are the best parts of the book, and the most well written. Though theoretically building her ethos, they work independent of the thesis and would be interesting to see as a stand-alone book. (It does complicate my own priors about her. She speaks of her childhood in NYC Private Schools, her University of Chicago MBA, and when she was unemployed and changing jobs, the first job she got in journalism was with the Economist. That kind of failing up can make it easy to hate her in the jealously envious sort of way).

So, yeah, read the book. McArdle is a good writer who I don’t hate anymore.

One last note: this being a book that covers social science, the Marshmallow Study has to get mentioned. In this case, McArdle leaves it be until page 223 of 268 pages. Therefore it gets a Marshmallow Index score of 1.2.

Lost At Sea
Lost At Sea
by Bryan Lee O'Malley
Edition: Paperback
Price: $7.99
66 used & new from $3.97

3.0 out of 5 stars a snowflake on my consciousness that has since passed, March 11, 2014
This review is from: Lost At Sea (Paperback)
Back when I was in grad school, if you were trying to write a paper and just spitballing ideas, a professor would ask you ”So what?” Basically, they wanted you to justify what you were trying to create. I hate to be overly critical, but I don’t think O’Malley really answers that with this finding-yourself road trip meditation. It was passable, but ethereal, a snowflake on my consciousness that has since passed. There is a passage near the end, the character is narrating the rest of the trip, and she says “Generally the rest of the story was probably more interesting if you were there and the jokes seemed funnier at the time.” I think this is true of the whole endeavor.

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