Putting the GM ignition switch fiasco in perspective

Gm logoGreat opinion piece in this morning’s Quartz Weekend Brief.

The take away – yes the lives lost (13 or 74, depending upon who ask) are tragic – but

From 2003 to 2010, the period in question, 287,586 people died in the US in car crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That’s 98 people every single day.

If we spent a fraction of the energy we have spent chastising GM on improving overall traffic safety we would have have saved way more lives. But then that is not as exciting of a news story.

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Read : Flash Boys by Michael Lewis

Flash Boys Cover I just finished reading Michael Lewis’ latest book – Flash Boys. I think whatever respect I held for Wall Street has been crushed.

I am sure that there are good people, just like there are bad people. But it feels like the good people are so out weighed by the bad people that the overall perception is that everyone on Wall Street is bad.

Flash Boys is the story of one man trying to level the playing field on Wall Street by starting his own exchange – IEX Trading.

Lewis does a good job at explaining what High Frequency Trading (HFT) is – at least I can follow what he was explaining – and how a greedy group of folks are raking in BILLIONS (yes with a B) of dollars by doing nothing but manipulating the markets.

Brad Katsuyama feels something is off and starts poking around and discovers things about Wall Street that I am sure only a very few know – how it works. And he discovers how the High-Frequency Traders are using speed and technology to manipulate the price of stock and make money off of the cents – or fraction of cents. But in enough volume, even the pennys add up

So he sets out to open his own Exchange (where stocks are traded) that levels the playing field. As he explains what is going to the folks that do the investing he opens many eyes, pisses off a lot of folks, and picks up some backers on the way.
But he is fighting a way of business that has been institutionalized on the Street and folks are hesitant to rock the boat.

But he gets IEX off the ground (they went live just Oct 2013 – less than a year ago) and seems to be slowly making a difference.

Here is to honesty and fairness.

Santa Clara Police Blotter for Apr 29

I get a weekly email of the police activity in Santa Clara.
Sometimes there are definite Darwin Award candidates

This week’s winner (my emphasis)

Warrant Arrest
Location: Monroe Street and Scott Boulevard
An officer entered into a consensual conversation with the male suspect outside the 7-11 store at Scott Boulevard and Monroe Street. While speaking to the suspect, he mentioned he had a warrant. A Records check confirmed a $7000 misdemeanor warrant. He was arrested and booked into County jail.
Time: 1630
Case Number: 14-004400

Other highlights from this week

Guess his arms were full
Burglary
Location: 2200 Block of Francis Avenue
Officers responded to the 2200 block of Francis Avenue on the report of a burglary. Sometime during the night, an unknown suspect entered the residence through an unlocked door and stole property from a closed in patio area of the residence. In addition to property being taken, the suspect also left some property that was believed to be from a neighboring home. Follow-up revealed that a neighboring home was also burglarized during the night (Case Number 14-004547). The suspect(s) remain at large.
Time: 0654
Case Number: 14-004546

Game of Thrones


One of the series that Tim Goodman was encouraging everyone to watch was HBO’s Game of Thrones. I have never subscribed to HBO so we have missed out on all the HBO greatness, until now. When I switched to Comcast from DirecTV we got 6 months of HBO free. I created the Season Pass on the TiVo and let it do it’s magic. Now with only a couple of shows left in the season we have started to watch Games of Thrones.

We are currently up to episode 4 and gotta say we are hooked. I never read the books the show is based upon and I was hesitant to starting watching because I was concerned that we would be come ‘lost’ in the story due to the number of characters and locales – but it has not happened. We have been able to follow the characters and storied, with the occasional pause of the show to talk about what we just saw or confirm who that character was, without much trouble. I know there is a lot of green screen special effects – but the scale and scope of the scenes suck you in and embed you in the story. It is very rare I find myself thinking how did they do that – must be a special effect.

Since we have the shows TiVo’d we can watch as many as we want in a sitting – but we have limited ourselves to 1-2 episodes. Primarily because 1) we run out of time each night and we have to get up early the next morning (as an aside, I hate when work gets in the way of having a good time); and 2) watching shows with lots of snow and cold makes Bev cold – but then I get a chance to warm her up 😉

The million dollar question – will we sign up for HBO next year so we can watch season 2?

The Killing


I have been really enjoying The Killing – the new series on AMC. I was turned on to it by Tim Goodman at The Hollywood Reporter (as an aside I think he is great critic and I respect his opinion and you should be reading his Bastard Machine blog). There have been complaints that it moves too slow but for me the pacing has been fine. Sometimes I need lots of flash and explosions – but it is nice to slow down and let the story build. It is about the characters, not the action or special effects. And based upon the amount of rain they show getting in Seattle (where it is supposed to be based), I am seriously rethinking retiring there 😉

It is one of the few shows that I found myself anticipating each week – the others this past season were Fringe, NCIS, and currently Game of Thrones (which I will cover in a separate post). There is only one episode left – where we find out who did it. My anticipation is building and I will be watching it almost live. (With TiVo I rarely watch anything live – I let it go for 20-30 minutes then start watching and skip the commercials). Check back next week for my thoughts on the finale.