"First: Unlike other types of spam, it does not rely upon the user clicking a link that leads to a server that authorities can shut down. It simply tries to arouse your curiousity about a stock so that you'll go to the trading site of your choice and learn more. Authorities can't shut down stock trading sites, nor readily detect which transactions occur as a result of a spam scam. Essentially, stock-touting spam is a click-free technique that probably will not be stopped by technological means.
"Second, stock-touting spam offers dependable returns to its creators, according to a credible new study associated with Purdue University's Krannert School of Management, the University of Oxford, and Harvard Law School. Researchers found that a stock-touter who bought while a stock was low, touted the stock with spam, then sold at the peak of activity right after the spam campaign, could earn a good five percent on his investment, overnight."
Tuesday, 30th of January, 2007
Section 1: Operation of All-Terrain Vehicles in Certain Areas Prohibited
1. The following terms, when used in this section, shall have the means ascribed to them in this section:
Private paved roads or sidewalks serving accessing more than one residential property means my apartment's parking lot.
Sunday, 28th of January, 2007
Honda Fit - In spite of being very small, the car is tall enough for me to fit in the back seat, and there is tons of head room in the front. The way the rear seats fold is as good as advertised - the seat bottoms fold up to load tall items like bikes, or pull it down and the whole seat bottom sinks right to the floor, and the seat backs fold flat so you have a completely flat surface in the back. Even with the rear seats up, there is quite a bit of room - way more than your average 5-door like the Scion xA, and only slightly less than a small wagon.
The boxy Scion xB definitely has more rear seat room though - they're priced really close and it's probably worth accepting the strange center speedometer configuration for the extra rear seat room.
Suzuki SX4 - One person stepped out of the back seat of the SX4 and said, "They should have made this a 2-door." Point taken - I got in this after the Honda Fit, and it's actually a significantly smaller car. Again, they made it tall to maximize interior room, so there's plenty of head room in the front, but the rear seat is just barely acceptable for me to sit in, but it is acceptable. Trunk space is tiny - good for a few bags of groceries - no loading of large suitcases here. The way the rear seats fold up and tumble forward provides you with some more flat cargo area, but they have to be kept in their forward tumble position by looping a strap to the headrest of the front seats. I wasn't able to figure that out by just playing with it for a minute - I had to come home and look it up. Definitely not as neat as the Honda Fit.
However, it does have AWD - probably the first AWD car this size and price we have had for in the US market, and you know how much I like AWD.
Lots of cab-forward was applied to both the Fit and the SX4 - so much that both cars have a small triangular window ahead of the front doors. I didn't check the one in the SX4 but the one in the Fit is definitely plastic - which is good because little windows tend to attract car burglars. Cab forward also produced a very unique windshield wiper setup for the SX4 - the driver's side wiper is gigantic and almost sits in the middle, swiping the windshield almost Mercedes one-wiper style. But there's still a passenger-side wiper, and it's a cute little wiper that must be around 10 inches.
2008 Mitsubishi Lancer - It was a pleasant surprise to see a pre-production new Lancer there, looking a lot like the concept that has been floating around. It was roped off and locked, but there was a sticker on it with the specs, and I was a little disappointed to see that it was sporting a naturally-aspirated 152 hp 2.0L I4. But it will only be a matter of time before the EVO X comes out with this new look - and I like it. It reminds me a little bit of another great upcoming AWD car - the Nissan GT-R. And it shows a bit of return to the more attractive, sporty styling that Mitsubishi previously had all across their lineup, like the previous 8th generation Galant (vs. the current generation that looks like a Nissan with some Chevy Impala elements thrown in there.)
They also had the 2007 "Infinity G35" - spelling according to the autoshow's official website. I've always had my impressions of the type of people that this auto show attracts but we now have written evidence of it. For the all-new 2007 model, Infiniti got rid of the reclining rear seats, which is disappointing. But if you open the center console storage on one equipped with the navigation system, you will find composite A/V input jacks. That's something I haven't seen before - makes hooking up that playstation to use on the nav system's screen really easy! That seems to be the theme of this car - why make luxury features on a car expensive when they don't have to be. I think the German luxury makers must be suffering from a bad exchange rate - the price of the equivalent 3-series, C-class, or A4 is not even in the same league compared to the G35, especially once you load it up with all the equivalent options.
Speaking of luxury cars, they managed to boot out a whole bunch of makes this year - further reinforcing the impression of what type of event this is becoming. Missing this year now are Audi, Jaguar, and Land Rover. Perhaps Ford felt like it needed all the space it can get to promote their cars and get the company out of trouble - the luxury makes do fairly well without any real massive promotion.
Volvo did have a presence at the show though - and it's the first time I managed to observe that the XC90 has a two-piece tailgate. There is a small section that folds down so you don't have to miss out on the experience of sitting on your tailgate, and it helps lighten up what is a massive hatch that opens up and away into the sky and probably hitting your garage door.
Something else that my art-major companions noticed was that orange seems to be the color of the year. The proportion of orange cars on the floor was almost outrageous.
In the space between the two main show areas, the convention center and the stadium, the most interesting smaller exhibit was a custom van/limo builder that took a 15-passenger minibus and applied some basic limousine tricks to it while still retaining 15-passenger seating. Of course the audio/video, fiber optic lighting, and leather were installed, but they turned two seats in the 2nd row around and placed a table in between the 2nd and 3rd row. Then they lined the right side of the van with 4 left-facing seats, so that all the space that usually serves as an "aisle" in such vans becomes leg room when everyone sits down, and then everyone can converse with each other without turning their heads. There is a bit more versatility than you find in a limo too - 4 leather seats in the 5th row can be quickly folded up vertically against the walls of the van to utilize the back part as storage. A really neat and creative 15-passenger solution!
Saturday, 27th of January, 2007
I've already talked about the genius of Samuel Barber this week. This is a good week for my impression of Barber to advance by leaps and bounds. The second piece they played was the Medea Meditation and Dance of Vengeance. That is one of the coolest pieces ever. The conductor, Mark Parker from Oklahoma City University, demonstrated his superior conducting skills by doing this piece - amazingly I could follow him through all the 5/8 and 7/8 measures just fine from the audience. You know a piece is significant for timpani when it's mentioned twice in the wikipedia article entry for timpani: "In Samuel Barber's Medea's Meditation and Dance of Vengeance, the timpanist must play A#–B–C#–D in consecutive sixteenth notes. There is no way to place this passage across a common set of four drums, thus the timpanist must use the pedal to change the notes while playing." The build-up of this piece made it the most exciting piece I remember ever hearing live. It's awesome! And the orchestra was awesome!
The concluded the program with the Polovtsian Dances, which was just as well played. I was admiring how one of the percussionists was playing a bass drum note followed by the crash cymbals in rapid succession during the 3rd movement, but apparently that was nothing. In the last movement he had to play both at the same time! Unarguably a physically involved orchestra role.
Something else I really liked about the choice of repertoire this year is that everyone had good parts for the whole concert, even some of the "extra" players. Harp was used all over, and even had a solo - the piano player was utilized in an effective way, and all the winds and brass stayed on stage the whole time - no all-strings pieces or lightly scored works today. If anyone got the shorter end of the deal, it was the strings - but I think they should live with that every now and then in order to get the opportunity to play in such an excellent orchestra and play such excellent music. At least they didn't have to play a comissioned piece...
Friday, 26th of January, 2007
By the way - A 350 cu-in V8 makes a ton of noise when you run it with an open cat!
Thursday, 25th of January, 2007
Instead, let's talk about the great job the Ladue Symphony Orchestra did. No, we didn't use the big podium for the performance, that was all we had in the warm-up room - no stands for any of the players. I sat in the front row during the performance in Salon A, which I have never done for any performance there before. First of all, the acoustics in Salon A are awful as usual, and being closer makes it significantly worse. Even though they're the closest, you can barely hear the strings. I was afraid to have to say that the band outplayed the strings, and then percussion completely annihilated everyone altogether. But I talked with a conductor who sat a bit further back and he said it was excellent.
It must have been that much worse an experience as a player - I talked with one string player who couldn't hear any of the other sections. But they pulled off an excellent job - this performance beats the typical area-wide youth orchestra.
Picture - With the performance completed, I went downstairs and made one of my own dreams come true, only a little over a month after I wrote about it here. Mozingo has decided to become a dealer of Mark Wood violins. They had both a 5-string and a 6-string fretted for demonstration.
The strap system on these violins really works as well as Mark says it does. We plugged the violins straight into an amp and it sounds really good without the need of any effects. the 5-string is pretty much pick up and play - adding 1 string was not a huge deal at all.
Picture - The 6-string, on the other hand, adds a low F string. Figuring out how to play on an F string, in addition to the sheer number of strings perched on that thing, required a bit of thought - I couldn't even begin to properly demonstrate the potential of that. The frets, though, were excellent. They don't interfere with the violin-playing at all. Those who don't play many fretted instruments may find it a bit strange though. Mandolin skills are most advantageous here.
While my gut instinct is to pick up a 5-string fretted since that's what I think I can pick up and start maximizing the full range of, I spent the entire bus ride back to St. Louis figuring out how to best take advantage of the frets to play big 6-string chords. I'm thinking right now that if I stretch the low F and C strings up to G and D, so that I wind up with a G-D-G-D-A-E combination, I can easily apply all I do on the G and D strings already, but the instrument allows me to go an octave lower.
So while I'm still figuring out the 6-string, the 7-string is still around for anyone who can justify buying one and learning how ot play on a Bb string. Of course, a person like Mark Wood has a lot of time to do such things, and he's worked his way up to a 10-string. I hope at some point the added strings are on the higher side, instead of going all the way down to seismic frequencies. Oh gosh, past 7 strings if you keep tuning in 5ths you get an instrument that has both a Bb and a B string or something.
All these strings start to remind me more of those lutes that people played in the medieval and renaissance period. This double-neck violin that Wood has re-emphasizes this. If you've never looked up the harp-guitar, now is a good chance.
Tuesday, 23rd of January, 2007
Monday, 22nd of January, 2007
Though I will comment on each version one by one, and have bolded the ones that are essential to listen to:
Of course, all this talk about the Barber Adagio and it wasn't really even the highlight of tonight's concert. We rested a little too much on the familiarity of the piece and spent most of our rehearsal time on the other pieces, though they were good pieces too. Beth put the 2nd orchestra in the Vaughn-Williams Fantasia on the Tom Tallis theme up in the balcony of Graham Chapel, which must have been cool to experience in the audience. A couple other chamber pieces that I found a lot of fun to play tonight included the Mozart piano concerto and the Handel Concerto Grosso. It's not one of the more popular Concerto Grossi, perhaps because the solo parts aren't as big as in others, but there is a lot of good stuff going on throughout the piece. And the orchestra is really good this year! That added to the fun.
Wednesday, 17th of January, 2007
Tuesday, 16th of January, 2007
Picture - The traffic problems produced the best pictures. The busy I-35 that connects to Mexico and runs straight up Texas has been pretty much out of service. Here is northbound at Howard Lane - ice prevents all the semis from getting up the road.
Picture - Laying sand under the tires to try to get the semi moving on I-35. Notice the semis in the background still.
Saturday, 13th of January, 2007
But the history is not what the movie is about - it's about this doctor's relationship with his new wife as she accompanies him to this foreign land and then into a rural village where he helps with a dangerous cholera epidemic. The story has drama, and the images in this movie are beautiful - another good movie night.
Friday, 12th of January, 2007
The story does get a little slow in the middle (I nodded off in the same section both times I watched the movie!) and it's a long movie. But it's a pretty movie, and it rewinds you back to that time in history well. There are some neat cinematography - gradual transition from news reels, and effective camera shots.
It seems like Angelina Jolie has been acting for a long time now and is still involved in multiple movies each year - though I do have to remember that she was only 20 when she did Hackers, and in spite of the fact that the movie regarded the 28.8k-baud modem, active matrix screens, and the "Pentium" processor the cutting edge, it's not that old of a movie (1995). While Matt Damon did a good job of changing his age as he went from a college student to a middle-aged father or a grown son, Jolie never quite fit the time and place she was supposed to be playing nearly as well, for some reason. I wonder if they compromised - she does really well in the modern movies like Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Gone in 60 Seconds.