A Haiku

a long boring drive
through white midwestern wasteland
just to see a girl

- me, 2005-ish

What I live for

I live for that moment where you feel you've finally 'gotten' something.

You figured it out... you might not have totally solved the problem yet, but you're on the way there and you can taste it. Finishing up is important, but is nearly a foregone conclusion once you've actually _clicked_

And you do that again, and again, and again, and again.

Nothing better.

Food for thought, Obama Assassination-styley

If Obama is really the incorruptible visionary leader he's supposed to be he will be assassinated.

An assassination attempt would legitimize Obama.

Disgusting? Yeah, pretty much.

True? Maybe.

update: this story about an assassination plot is awfully timely

Took you that long to figure out Obama was the Antichrist?

From An Antichrist Obama in McCain Ad?:

Perhaps the most puzzling scene in the ad is an altered segment from The 10 Commandments that appears near the end. A Moses-playing Charlton Heston parts the animated waters of the Red Sea, out of which rises the quasi-presidential seal the Obama campaign used for a brief time earlier this summer before being mocked into retiring it. The seal, which features an eagle with wings spread, is not recognizable like the campaign's red-white-and-blue "O" logo. That confused Democratic consultant Eric Sapp until he went to his Bible and remembered that in the apocalyptic Book of Daniel, the Antichrist is described as rising from the sea as a creature with wings like an eagle.

Knowing very little about Christian theology (or most theology for that matter) I would never, ever, understand this reference without some serious help. Apparently, I'm not part of the target audience.

Check out the video for yourself. The end segment with the Obama seal is weird and unsettling. Cracks me up.

I think it's likely any US president is a rough approximation of the Antichrist (oh my god think about Hillary as president). I wonder what percentage of politicians rate as psychopaths.

Kellog's Frosted Mini-Wheats: PURE BRAIN FOOD

So according to my box of Frosted Mini-Wheats it

has been clinically shown to improve kids' attentiveness by nearly 20%!

wowzers! that's probably better than 40mg of methylphenidate for those little munchkins!

The footnote is where it all comes together though.

Based upon independent clinical research, kids who ate Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats cereal for breakfast had up to 18% better attentiveness three hours after breakfast than kids who ate no breakfast. For more information, visit [!!!!]

I have to say I'm floored. They even tell you it's all a bunch of garbage, if you're willing to read between the lines EVER SO SLIGHTLY AS IN NOT AT ALL.

Wow, being hungry and starving makes it hard to concentrate. I'm glad I have my mini-wheats!

The little Asian kid with his hand raised is too much for me. Can you handle it?

Stock Day Trading Results April 2008

April 1, 2008

1. Short 200 OWW at $7.02
2. Cover 200 OWW at $7.19 loss: -34.02

April 2, 2008

3. Short 300 COT at $3.4801
4. Cover 300 COT at $3.35 gain: +39

April 4, 2008

5. Buy 100 GU at $15.15

April 8, 2008

6. Sell 100 GU at $14.21 loss: -94.01

This one was particularly frustrating due to the fact I could have easily sold at several points for a profit, and possibly even over $80 profit. You can see some of my thoughts in this post: Anatomy of Failure, a bad GU trade.

April 9, 2008

7. Short 100 CRY at $10.1701
8. Cover 100 CRY at $10.25 loss: -$8
9. Short 100 IMMR at $8.11
10. Cover 100 IMMR at $7.90 gain: +21.01

April 10, 2008

I should have made this trade in my SogoTrade account... I ended up paying $9 commissions...
11. Short 250 PRTS at $3.98
12. Cover 250 PRTS at $3.85 gain: +23.48

now back to SogoTrade...

April 11, 2008

13. Short 300 NTZ at $4.00

April 15, 2008

14. Buy 500 MNKD at $2.00
15. Sell 500 MNKD at $2.18 gain: +90.15

April 18, 2008

16. Short 200 NXTM at $6.46
17. Cover 200 NXTM at $6.32 gain: +28.16
18. Cover 300 NTZ at $4.05 loss: -$14.97

This NTZ trade was silly on my part; this stock was going absolutely nowhere and just trading within a range. I should have taken an early profit and gotten out.

19. Short 500 EDEN at $2.59
20. Cover 500 EDEN at $2.36 gain: +114.99

April 22, 2008

21. Buy 500 MNKD at $2.08
22. Sell 500 MNKD at $2.10 gain: +10.60

Hmmm... just about out of free SogoTrade trades by now ain't I?

In order to avoid the SEC pattern day trader rule in case I want to liquidate my position intra-day, I do the next trade with Zecco, paying $9 roundtrip commissions...

April 23, 2008

23. Buy 500 CPSL at $3.66
24. Sell 500 CPSL at $3.7001 gain: +11.05

This trade was annoying, because I should have done 1 of 2 things: either sold into an early spike for gains closer to $50, or waited it out for a later spike, which did come despite the fact I got scared out of the trade.

April 24, 2008

25. Buy 500 CPSL at $3.6999

Back in CPSL again, and too close to the middle of its current range.

April 25, 2008

26. Sell 500 CPSL at $3.65 loss: -$34

April 28, 2008

27. Short 300 NXTM at $6.36
28. Cover 300 NXTM at $6.22 gain: +$42.20

This NXTM cover is where my free trades in my SogoTrade account ran out. It was good while it lasted, and I'd be down an extra $75 without those free trades!

April 30, 2008

29. Buy 500 MNKD at $2.25
30. Sell 500 MNKD at $2.49 gain:+$114

Account Balances

Zecco: $2514.35
SogoTrade: $2916.24
Current Total: $5430.59
Total Original Capital: $5250
Current Total $ Return: +$180.59
Current Total % Return: +3.44%
$ Change in April: +$309.64

My net change for the month of April was +309.64, which despite having some good luck, was largely because of a better definition and application of my strategy. However, please note that without the copious free trades from SogoTrade and Zecco, I would probably be sitting at a loss simply due to transaction costs. I have made well over 60 individual trades since opening my brokerage accounts; even if all of those were $3 SogoTrade commissions, I'd be sitting at +$0 and likely be posting a negative return.

It's kind of funny that most of my good trades have ended up in my SogoTrade account. Of course, since my SogoTrade account was opened much later, and I didn't start getting a strategy together until early last month, it's not surprising. Also, SogoTrade has much better short inventory than Zecco, so sometimes I am unable to make profitable short trades in my Zecco account purely because I can't borrow the shares I need from Penson.

George Warren Ingram the Third: International Huckster Extraordinaire and White Collar Psychopath?

How much does George Warren Ingram III and Hannibal Lecter have in common?
Doesn't just seeing Anthony Hopkins make you feel warm and fuzzy?

After George Ingram himself appeared to comment on my article about him I started following up privately with some of the people that left comments.

One individual wanted to get into contact with another commenter, and so I helped him do so, and he also supplied me with some more information about Ingram.

Apparently, the guy that left a comment about having lunch with George in Chicago sparked the interest of the gentleman I was in contact with. According to him, George is violating the terms of his probation and he should still be under house arrest in San Antonio, TX.

He also led me to this write-up on George Ingram III in an oil industry newspaper. It's very revealing to say the least, but you'll have to pay five bucks if you want to read it. It discusses his attempt to take control of Petroecuador, Ecuador's state-run oil company, through some sort of ridiculous scheme where he would put 'no money down.' He also made very ambitious claims regarding potential future increases in oil production. Of course, if the deal went through, Ingram's Denver-based company Global Intelligence Corporation would receive a $155-mil contract to provide "data systems [based on] secretive decision software software supposedly in use by the US Department of Defense."

Central to all of his schemes are his ready promises of vast amounts of cash. However, this is cash that he doesn't have access to at the moment - because according to him it is tied up in illiquid foreign investments.

At least two Ingram relatives say his claims of great wealth and secretive government links are pure fantasy... "There was no big inheritance," says one cousin: "It's a fairy tale. The whole family is mystified."

"He's one of the biggest liars ever created, or he's a man of incredible means," says Texas lawyer Edward Watt. Watt won a $50,0000 judgement against Ingram in 2003 for unpaid legal bills, despite elaborate counter-claims Ingram raised, and lost. Watt says he does not expect to be paid, convinced Ingram is un-collectable.

MF Smith blasted [Ingram's claims of great wealth in his chapter 11 bankruptcy filing] as "incomplete, inconsistent, and unverifiable" and noted Ingram did not own a car, could not pay the $850 bankruptcy filing fee and his house had been foreclosed in 2000. "What is an individual with a net worth of $1.7-bil doing in bankruptcy?"

Edward C. Bahl

One commenter named 'Denis Robinson' with an e-mail address tied to is most likely Ingram himself. Global Intelligence Corporation (GIC) is the fraud shell company that Ingram set up in order to facilitate the 'investments' he attempts to con out of people. The most amusing part as far as I am concerned is that the company purports to be an expert in 'Business Intelligence' - something I know more about than I would like.

This 'Denis Robinson' attempts to slag the name of a one Edward C. Bahl, who apparently was just another one of George's victims, along with such information-age stalwarts as Verizon and IBM.

Verizon was never paid [for funding a Global Intelligence Corporation operation] and the hardware disappeared. Ingram blamed his employees for stealing, says Edward Bahl, whose firm was stuck wtih $100,000 in unpaid consultant billings. . . "I should have known then that Ingram was a fraud," says Bahl, who went on to help Ingram found GIC in Denver, funding much of that development by maxing out his own credit cards. Ingram blames Bahl for GIC's downfall.

Ingram is often lucky in that his victims would rather not admit to their being conned out of lock, stock, and barrel and thus sometimes do not file formal complaints.

Oh yea, what about good old American PureTex Water Corporation that had such big plans to open the 'World's Largest Bottled Water Plant' in Texas?

PureTex's only "asset," says Bahl, may be the gold-plated board Ingram persuaded to lend their names to the venture. They have included former Space Shuttle pilot and Marine Gen. Charles Bolden, ex-NASA Johnson Space Center head George Abbey, president Michael Frazier of Houston Investment bank Simmons & Co, and Fulbright & Jaworski law partner Howard Wolf.

White Collar Psychopath? (a clinical definition)

Some consider the president of Iran, Ahmadinejad, to be a dyed-in-the-wool psychopath
some consider the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to be a dyed-in-the-wool psychopath

I found an excellent article by Jerry Russell and Richard Stanley titled Psychopaths, Secret Societies, and the New World Order that discusses some salient features of our neighborhood sociopaths.
    traits that help define psychopaths

  • a smooth, glib capability to lie, manipulate and dissemble
  • completely callous lack of empathy or concern for others
  • shallow emotional affect and lack of remorse
  • egocentric grandiosity
  • living off others or predatory attitude
  • lack of realistic long term goals
  • blaming others for their actions
  • breaking parole or probation, varied criminal activity

Does this remind you of anyone? If it's someone in your personal life, run!

A paper by Harris, Rice & Quinsey (1994) argues that psychopathy is a "taxon" -- that is, a discrete subclass, more or less as distinctive as male vs. female, or cat vs. dog. This is based on a statistical analysis of a population of subjects with their scores for psychopathy. The distribution of scores is strongly bimodal, indicating a lack of "shades of gray" for the psychopathic personality syndrome. This is a strikingly unusual result in personality research, which usually finds a continuous range of variability in personality traits. While a five-factor personality model (introversion/extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability and openness) is often considered sufficient to describe the normal range of personality, the psychopathic personality is very difficult to represent within this space (see Miller et al., 2001), exhibiting highly differentiated sub-traits within the major personality dimensions (where we would normally expect to find correlated sub-traits.) The unusual pattern of sub-traits is, in our view, another basis for believing that psychopathy represents a distinct genetic syndrome.

Essentially, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a psychopath.

The psychopaths have developed an extraordinarily powerful camouflage mechanism. When it fits their purposes, they are glib, friendly and easy-going, devoid of the petty anxieties that trouble most of us and cast a pall over day-to-day interactions. They are the very embodiment of charisma and chutzpah. In this way, they stay hidden and undetected by their victims until a trap is sprung. Precisely because most human beings have an instinctive internalized sense of fair play and altruism, they are incapable of seeing when another human being does not share these attributes.

Here is a link to a Google search on the word 'psychopath', and I also leave you this tidbit on the prevalance of anti-social personality disorder in the general population.

Crazy and frightening - and real, in about 4 percent of the population....

The prevalence rate for anorexic eating disorders is estimated a 3.43 percent, deemed to be nearly epidemic, and yet this figure is a fraction lower than the rate for antisocial personality. The high-profile disorders classed as schizophrenia occur in only about 1 percent of [the population] - a mere quarter of the rate of antisocial personality - and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that the rate of colon cancer in the United States, considered "alarmingly high," is about 40 per 100,000 - one hundred times lower than the rate of antisocial personality.

George Ingram the Third: He Googles Himself!

My article on George Ingram III has been one of my favorite bits of this website to date. It was just a random and idle afternoon that led me to post the story, but little did I know about the effect that this slimy individual has had on people.

Commenter after commenter has come out of the woodwork to tell us about the lies and shady deals that George Ingram has perpetrated. Interestingly, it would appear that George Ingram himself has now commented on my story about him.

It appears George left a huge pile of pure hogwash under the name of 'mhjacks2' - an obvious attempt at appearing to be the author of the website. Note the title of the comment 'I was wrong about George'. Who is this guy trying to fool?

so why do I think it's George himself?

When I looked to see the e-mail attached to this comment that attempts to do damage control, it was!!

Here is a link to the WHOIS query for - it's not very informative. Private registration under 1&1 Internet, Inc. located in Chesterbrook, PA.

The lengths this guy will go to are amazing. Nice try Georgie-boy. Spamming my comments will get you nowhere, except perhaps an IP ban if you get really annoying.

SogoTrade and Zecco = Pure Discount Broker Crap

Update 4/15/2008: Zecco has people griping in their own forums now - and they said it better than I ever could have: (reprinted for perpetuity)

I tried logging in Monday morning - and failed; After about and hour, I gave up for the day and went about my business. Something similar happened early in Zecco's life, so I figured It's just a start-up problem.

However, that being said - Zecco should be nearly out of the start-up stage. Zecco has an Official Notification out regarding the website being offline and a offhand reference to misleading default "scheduled maintenance"/404 page - An internal review is needed - and not of the technical dashboard problem.

The Friday update was scheduled and advertised ahead of time - meaning that Zecco should not have been surprised with the consequences.

Picking Friday for updating is a smart move on IT's part. Not having a secondary system in place to rollback production changes is unacceptable for a real-time website. I highly suggest IT or management review system update policies to ensure that a plan is in place to rollback changes instantly.

In IT, updates are a part of life. With that in mind, we know that unanticipated consequences of an update are also part of life. However, for real-time systems, clear oncall/quick chain-of-command, multiple response teams & backup servers running alternate versions are part of life(or should be) - in 2008 it's cheap to use virtual servers as backups running proven older versions with proven older routing configurations.

and also from the same forum thread:

I've called at least once a week, every week complaining about the matter of fact attitude zecco seems to have about keeping it's system up at trading times. It's VERY clear these are server errors and crashes (I'm retired from an IT career) Denying these server failures only fuels my fire that I'm dealing with a bunch of liars that only care about numbers. I trade options which generate revenue for zecco/penson everytime I click the mouse.

Today, I'm making arrangements to transfer my account to anywhere else. I'm done with sloppy management and unprofessional IT people. I suggest all of you follow suit.

Allen Reynolds Jr.

My experience:

So I get up this morning and attempt to get into my two brokers' websites.

Zecco is completely unresponsive and I have not been able to log in for over an hour since the markets opened today!

I thought SogoTrade was fine - until it decided to do this to me while I was watching my NTZ position:

SogoTrade shows its true worthless colors with this classic error


At least I didn't have an open position in Zecco... unfortunately I do have a somewhat precarious position of 300 short shares of NTZ that I'm holding in my SogoTrade account, which is sitting at a minor loss, but if it moves against me even more... I'd like to at least have a stop order in place. If I would have known SogoTrade was so worthless I would have put my stupid protective stop in, jeebus!

I guess with Zecco and SogoTrade you get what you pay for. Maybe one of these days I might be able to get an actually worthwhile broker that I can rely on. These have not been my first connectivity issues with either broker, and Zecco has proven itself to be particularly unreliable.

Is this their way of sticking you for the cost of 'broker-assisted' trades that you can make by calling them up?

At least some brokerages have the integrity to not make you pay more for a phoned-in trade; maybe because they realize that a lot of those phone-ins will be because their web-platform is COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY WORTHLESS?

I was finally able to get to the Zecco homepage without simply being unable to connect - they say the site is down for scheduled maintenance!


Scheduled maintenance my butt - what broker would be so dumb as to schedule maintenance at possibly one of the most crucial trading times? Sounds like someone puked all over their servers, or they're using IT slave labor from foreign countries that have no clue about market hours.

discount broker Zecco's servers show their true colors

Wow Zecco, you got my vote - you have such an awesome sense of how to run your business and please your customers!

Cost for Zecco phone-in trade: $20
Cost for SogoTrade phone-in: $27

For reference:
Zecco Brokerage Account Review - yeah, decent execution if you can actually place any orders.
SogoTrade Brokerage Account review - supposedly NXTM was on their short list on last Friday, but I was unable to short it and received no explanation why I was unable to do so (their customer service has been worthless in responding to this issue).

Long story short - if you're more active than you are completely and utterly dead, you might not want to choose either of these brokers.

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