30 April 2010

Arrested Development

We didn't have a DVR when Arrested Development was aired, so I only saw it occasionally. But I've been streaming episodes from Netflix on my iPad and it every episode has a laugh out loud moment. Brilliant television.

27 April 2010

Long Lost Cocktail

Or maybe a long lost cocktail post. I've been off cocktails somewhat lately, but yesterday ran across an article at The Cocktail Chronicles that promises something of a holy grail of cocktail recipes: a drinkable Singapore Sling. I just need to pick up a little bottle of Cherry Heering.

Paul makes a good point: a lot of original/authentic cocktail recipes make for fairly nasty tasting drinks.

Oh, I made a Hurricane last weekend. I found it here, but the original is from New Orleanian Chuck Taggart. It might need a little tinkering, but it is a lot better than the stuff they serve at Pat O's.

25 April 2010

24 April 2010


After two false starts, I finally succeeded in buying an iPad yesterday. It'll be better when all the better iPhone apps are rewritten to take advantage of the bigger screen. It's good as a portable web browser. Also, I think it's going to be an excellent platform for watching videos; the streaming Netflix app is pretty cool and Hulu is allegedly working on one as well.

20 April 2010

Shoelace Knots

I learned how to tie my shoes during the Johnson administration, but it might be time to expand that horizon. Occasionally when I run, one of my shoelaces comes undone (typically the left).

Proof that you can find anything on the internet: http://www.fieggen.com/shoelace/knots.htm

16 April 2010


Nice campus.

Sent from my iPhone

15 April 2010


Yesterday I suggested to a colleague that one of her staff might not be, you know, doing his job, even though I have never met him or seen him work. I came to this conclusion based on an analysis of how many of his cases end up resolved in comparison with his peers. It is possible, of course, that the differences in their rates has another explanation. Even though I am armed with only two semesters of statistics (and that was "baby stats" according to one of my math professor friends), I should have been able to do better than "this number is a lot smaller than the other two".

09 April 2010

On Football Debt

Several clubs in the top English league have significant debt (Liverpool among them). Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness has said "If you build all of your success on debt, I think it is not OK.", and I think he's got that right. But Manchester United and Liverpool haven't built their success on debt. Quite to the contrary, they are taxing their success with debt (Real Madrid on the other hand...)

The Glazers and Gillett and Hicks bought their club with the expectation that the value of the club would appreciate and that they would sell it off at a profit at some time later. That's the general modus operandi in American team owners. Their decision was obviously strictly a business one: none those Americans had any history with soccer in general or the particular club, both storied clubs with deeply passionate followers.

In the context of financing an investment, borrowing is a common practice. But both saddled the club with the debt, and have used the operating proceeds of the club to service the debt. Again, if you don't actually care about football but are buying a club as an investment, that is a reasonable approach.

There is not an open market for sports clubs as there is in, say stocks or real estate, so we can't know what the fair market value would be for the clubs. I suspect that both owners have been caught in a (please pardon the expression) franchise bubble. I suspect both overpaid with the expectation that club values would keep going up at a ridiculous rate. The thing about asset pricing bubbles is that they can't grow forever.

They might have brought some marketing knowledge and even improved the clubs revenues somewhat, but of football knowledge or passion they brought exactly none. Neither club has seen a dramatic improvement on the pitch since their current owners took over, but that was never their intent.

I only follow Liverpool closely, and the contempt the Liverpudlians have for G&H is deep. Some of the claims are silly: Benitez may not have a bottomless reserve of cash for purchasing players, nor even one as deep as Chelsea or the Manchester clubs, but neither has he been bereft of funds. Every time he whines about spending, David Moyes must resist the urge to call Rafa and offer to swap budgets.

But here's where the American haters have got it right. They promised Liverpool a new stadium (one which, like the Emirates, would have brought a lot of debt) and couldn't deliver. They didn't have the cash (or didn't want to tie it up) to buy the club outright and so instead borrowed for it. They don't have the cash (or don't want to tie it up) to build the stadium, and now are unable to convince bankers to even lend them the money for it. They are unwilling to give up control except at an unconscionable profit.

Gillett and Hicks are bad for Liverpool and bad for football, but so are Abramovich and the Abu Dhabi United Group. Football clubs shouldn't be strictly investments, nor should they be expensive hobbies.

So here's what I'd do if I were in charge. Debt would be allowed to finance capital projects (like new stadiums), but otherwise not allowed. Player purchases and wage bills would be financed only through team operations. If anyone want to buy clubs as an investment, they need to take on the debt personally, rather than forcing it on the club. Dividends to owners would need to be managed (perhaps capped at some modest fixed percentage of turnover), as that could still be a mechanism for having the club finance the debt service. At the other end of the table, I'd want to prevent clubs from following Portsmouth's example, but one thing at a time...

08 April 2010


We've just had a little welcome rain. Atlanta has a lot of trees and
this is the time of year when everything is covered in pollen.
Hopefully it will rain some more this afternoon and wash this stuff