The Deipnosophist

Where the science of investing becomes an art of living

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Location: Summerlin, Nevada, United States

A private investor for 20+ years, I manage private portfolios and write about investing. You can read my market musings on three different sites: 1) The Deipnosophist, dedicated to teaching the market's processes and mechanics; 2) Investment Poetry, a subscription site dedicated to real time investment recommendations; and 3) Seeking Alpha, a combination of the other two sites with a mix of reprints from this site and all-original content. See you here, there, or the other site!

28 July 2011


Jon Stewart nails it! And is extra clever in the effort...

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
GOP - Special Victims Unit
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

Worth watching, no...?
-- David M Gordon / The Deipnosophist

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23 July 2011

Think you will find a great deal at the Borders clearance sale?

Let me save you the trip.

I went yesterday (Friday) afternoon, in the bid to find some phenomenal prices. After all, this is no mere clearance sale, but an all-out liquidation. Borders (BGP) will soon be no more.

And while I prefer not to profit from another person's misery -- all those employees suddenly cast adrift in a terrible economy that seemingly has no new jobs for anyone, however skilled -- this was a match made in heaven. Borders, after all, had gobs of my money spent there over the years; so fair is fair.

But Borders still calls the tune. Or so it thinks. 40% discount? Magazines only, where the markups are equally tremendous. Books? 10-20% (science fiction a miserly 10%, mysteries a more giving 15%).

C'mon, who do they kid? Certainly not me. Better discounts were always available online at Amazon and elsewhere, who always had the book in my hands within 1-2 days, and charged no sales tax; Borders (at least my neighborhood store) almost never had what I wanted, charged full cover price, would order it and possibly have it in 1-2 weeks. Oh, and charge sales tax.

Bill Gates famously said something to the effect that, with the advent of the Internet, middle-men had better offer a premium service or a better price. Borders offered neither, especially the past decade. That trend continues with this so-called liquidation sale: the better price is found online elsewhere. And I can find the precise item(s) I seek.

Go to Borders? Perhaps for a coffee... but for the sad fact that the coffee outlets are closed. And most assuredly not for any deal. Save yourself the trip.
-- David M Gordon / The Deipnosophist


US$: A hard row to hoe

The € over the past many weeks and months has collapsed utterly in price and value against every currency but the US$. This non-collapse likely means that the US$ is weaker even than the €, which says something ugly about the US$ and, by extension, the USA.

But what precisely? No question the USA pursues a never-articulated but nonetheless damning policy of debasing its currency - pretty much from Day 1, when politicians learned it is much easier to foist our problems off on international holders. Even so, the USA as a political entity does not circle the drain as the EU seemingly does. And yet international currency investors and traders continue to shun the US$.

I get that it is easier for American companies to sell more product abroad, if our currency is cheaper (an item's price in dollars is cheaper). Such a policy calls into question our values, even our morals: If this is how we treat (value) our currency, what other crucial items do we debase and/or devalue? And I sure would like to see American company executives compete on a level playing field, one in which international buyers buy for reasons other than cheap(er) price.

Conversely, you and I feel the pain of the US$'s cheapening value each time we visit another country, where any transaction requires even more dollars to facilitate. "One can of Coca-Cola is $6...? You must be joking!"

Our national policy ushers in - arguably, even creates - our coming Era of Diminished Expectations, and our national Day of Reckoning.

Sad. It did not have to be like this.
-- David M Gordon / The Deipnosophist

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08 July 2011

Yoga and me

[Cartoon courtesy of The New Yorker]

You see what I mean...? :-)
-- David M Gordon / The Deipnosophist

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02 July 2011

The Essential Phone Interview Handbook - A Review

Paul Bailo's new book, The Essential Phone Interview Handbook, promises its readers, right on its cover, to "Master the faceless interview," to "Be prepared no matter when they call," and to "Protect your professional presence." In the end, the book is an easy read with good tips strewn throughout the book.

One negative for this book is that the author neither chooses nor targets his primary audience. This seeming lack of target audience might be Mr. Bailo's objective, to reach a broader pool of job-seekers, but in the attempt to say everything to everyone, the book loses its message by being too remedial/rudimentary for those who have held professional positions and/or those who are comfortable and carry professional confidence and demeanor.

A second though less grievous negative is too much repetition in the stories - from personal stories to "Story with a Moral" to "Something to think about" sections throughout the book. The stories are too similar to draw different lessons or meanings.

The author laid out the book well, from preparation before the interview, to during the interview, to following the interview. He offers several valuable tips:

* Record your voice (page 23). Great concept - understand what you like, how you sound, what fillers you may unconsciously project (um, ahh, you know - page 81), tone, and confidence.
* Ensure you use a land-line (page 39)
* Remove or deal with distractions and background noise (pages 30+).
* Confirm your appointment the day before your scheduled interview (page 61).
* Take notes during the call (page 118)
* After the call, reflect upon and analyze the call (page 171). What did you do correct? What can you improve?

Unfortunately, the author includes a few miscues. The example of how to deal with the distraction of a dog barking (pages 35-36) is one. His suggested response: "I'm sorry. I thought I had planned for everything - researching, practicing, and studying. One thing I didn't plan on was my neighbor's dog. Lucky for me, I'm very flexible, and I can easily manage the unexpected. Let's continue with our phone interview."

Huh? "Lucky for [you]"...? Perhaps not so lucky for the interviewer. Does this sound like a comfortable and confident person, whose talent precedes such a distraction? Would it not be better to say, "Excuse me, that is my neighbor's dog. If his barking distracts you, I can quickly move to another telephone to continue our important call." This reply could show that you also care that the barking might affect or distract the interviewer.

The author suggests you research for three days prior to your phone interview -- and lays out suggestions for each day. (p 49) He begins with, "Go to the library." Really? The most recent and valuable information on most firms is not necessarily located in a library, nor is it the most up-to-date. The author then ends with a note that just by going to Google for a search of the company does not reach the required depth of research. But at no time does the author suggest going to the firm's web site, or Hoovers, or other online resources, to research the company's mission, values, history, and culture.

Page 57 leads in with a tip to read about the national and international news the morning of the call. This would ensure that an interviewee does not fall into the same situation the author fell into where the caller described a speech in Europe (page 58) that he was unaware of and made him uncomfortable and embarrassed the rest of the call.

Hmm. Is the organization located in Europe or does it have business that would be affected by events there? Did this European president's speech notify the world that a new war was initiated, or a disaster struck that affects a large region? If not, why would this be relevant? Why would, "I have not yet read about the speech" make you fail the phone interview? Be realistic. Certainly consider news in the area of the caller, news that may affect the company, but you could not memorize the entire world's news to respond effectively to his scenario, unless you are already interested and regularly read this news.

Despite my quibbles, The Essential Phone Interview Handbook offers fine pointers for those job applicants who have yet to field a telephone interview.
-- David M Gordon / The Deipnosophist

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