June 30, 2010

Put Your Money in Smaller Banks: A Guest Post


Last week, I confessed that my BP boycott was probably shortsighted, but didn't know what else to do.

This prompted some interesting Facebook conversations about what else we should be boycotting. Which leads us to a guest post today from my friend, Bry Willis. I offer a quick counter-point at the end.

Put Your Money in Smaller Banks
A guest post by Bry Willis


"When promoting small banks, we are more importantly advocating local banking. Local banking keeps money closer to the community, so the money saved there is more likely to be invested nearby. It's also better for small businesses, because proportionally, smaller banks lend more to small businesses than larger banks. When a local bank writes a mortgage, they also have a greater interest in scrutinizing the creditworthiness of the borrower. The largest banks tend to repackage these mortgages, passing the risk on to another party, so they have little vested interest in the quality of the loan or the community where the loan originated. Small banks were not responsible for the recent financial meltdown and failure of the derivatives market. They were also not creating these instruments and putting depositor money at risk. 

Credit unions are another local alternative. They are similar to banks, but they are owned by their depositors. People with common interests pool their funds and earn interest on their deposits by providing loans to one another—think of the Bailey Building & Loan in the holiday classic film, "It’s a Wonderful Life."

Also, despite what you may assume, bigger banks statistically have higher fees and worse interest rates than small banks.

Smaller banks are also more likely to provide you personal service—to treat you like a human instead of a number. You are more likely to speak with a human instead of winding through a labyrinth of telephone service automation: “Press 5 to talk to someone. We care about your call; we just don’t care enough to hire someone to speak with you in the next 20 minutes…”

As the adage goes, “Think globally. Act locally.” These banks you should avoid like the plague: Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley."



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Thanks Bry! Although, I have a follow-up question on your logic. You have convinced me that local banks are better in my self-interest, from a sheer capitalist point of view. If this changes in the future, and I can get better interest rates and lower fees from a large bank with better efficiencies, should I switch?

June 29, 2010

What is the Q.E.D. Podcast?

QED: An entertainment podcast dedicated to answering life's biggest mysteries.

Just because the show FlashForward is off the air doesn't mean I'm done podcasting. Through our relationship with the writers on the show, a new podcast was born last night. Dave and I are teaming up once again - this time with Quinton Peeples, renowned Hollywood writer and director, and the executive story editor of FlashForward.

This podcast is going to launch from where shows like LOST and FlashForward left us. Talking about the philosophical, metaphysical and theological.

QED. It's a latin phrase (and a FlashForward homage). Quod erat demonstradum. Thus completes the proof. Each week we'll take a new topic. Research. Discuss. Debate. And weigh all the evidence before we stamp our QED at the end of each episode.

Check out the amazingly-designed www.qedpodcast.com (designed by listener and friend Tasha Brand of Creoars Design Studio) and start helping us find answers to life's biggest mysteries. Our premier episode is now available on iTunes! Go subscribe.

June 28, 2010

The Death of Retail and Real-Life Browsing

I needed new eyeglasses. So, I went to the mall. Tried on a bunch of pairs. Found one pair of frames I really liked.

Wrote down the SKU number. Went home. Looked it up online. Purchased it for half the store's retail price.

If we keep doing this, the retail stores won't stay in business, and I won't be able to use this tactic. But, I'm stupid if I pay double for the same thing.

So, what's the solution?

June 25, 2010

Going to a Waterpark or Getting High?

My wife and I went to the waterpark today to celebrate my new full-time job! More on that in the future...

Two topics for the day.

1. I love waterparks. The adrenaline. The tranquility. The fun. It's amazing.

So, what's the physiological difference between going to a waterpark and getting high? There's an obvious physical difference. The harm of drugs on your body opposed to the health benefits of walking up 40 flights of stairs at a waterpark. But, in terms of "fun", what's the difference? Which leads me to my new favorite quote, "Once water parks get cheaper than pot, I'll stop smoking."

*Note: I do not and have never smoked pot.

2. We overheard a 14-year old girl's conversation with her friends while in line. "We had been only going out 3 weeks and he wanted to have sex. Only 3 weeks!"

She was upset. Not at the prospect of having sex with a 14-year old boy, but at the speed of the intimacy.

Lord, help us.

June 24, 2010

The Benefits of Being a "White" Black Man

You can hang with both groups, comfortably. Isn't that a huge advantage?

(Note: this post was inspired by Donald Glover on the show "Community")

June 23, 2010

The Superiority of Genetic Hotness

I recently entered into a contentious discussion with a friend in regards to whether or not there is a correlation between aesthetic beauty and intellect.

Right away, you want to jump to the conclusion that "of course there's not." Or even go in the opposite direction. "Most hot people are ditzes and most brainy people are ugly."

But, from a microevolution standpoint, that doesn't really add up.

The best genes pick the best genes. Whether you're rich and marrying a trophy wife, or hot and marrying a smart guy, good genes tend to intermingle.

So, there is a really good chance that by now in our human development, there is a significant coreelation between aestheic beauty and intelligence.

It's not mean. It's science.

June 22, 2010

www.whyeverypresidentsucked.com


After two long years, my masterpiece is now ready to be unveiled.

Designed for teachers, trivia buffs and the politically cynical, www.whyeverypresidentsucked.com is an interactive and musical site that aims to halt a voter's search for future presidential perfection by detailing how each former President has failed to live up to these expectations.

Flip through the pages of a beautifully-designed coffee-table book. Read the brief failures of each and every president. And watch an original video song inspired by each failure.

Go check it out, tell your smart friends and most importantly, let me know what you think!

June 21, 2010

Why George H.W. Bush Sucked: The Song

#41. George H.W. Bush


Capo 6
G, G/F#, G/F, Em

read my lips
blah blah blah blah blah blah blah

here’s the thing about promises
silly us, we expect you to keep them

so when you say ‘no new taxes’, you can’t tax everything and think we’ll forget
gasoline, cigarettes, beer and Medicare
furs, jewels, cars, boats, planes and more

read my lips
blah blah blah blah blah blah blah

don’t lie blatantly
think we’re stupidly
gonna forget

‘cause when you lost our trust
you lost our trust
read our lips

June 18, 2010

If Seinfeld Had Hot People...

Seinfeld is arguably one of the greatest comedies of all time. And yet, I feel like the show, Friends, is often given equal weight, at least in terms of popularity among my generation.

And from a guy who watches both shows, that's an outrage. Watch an episode of Friends and an episode of Seinfeld back to back. I can't imagine you'll laugh harder at Friends.

So, what's the difference? Why the shared mass popularity between both shows?

Because Seinfeld is hysterical, but makes you look at George Constanza for a half hour. And Friends is chuckle-funny but gives you 5 1/2 fashion models.

Pretty people are fun to watch. But what George Constanza lacks in aesthetic genetics, he makes up for with hilarious "Woody Allen" self-deprecation and paranoia.

Maybe if George were hot, it wouldn't be as funny. But Chandler probably could have pulled off that character. And then it wouldn't be AS confusing when an unemployed man came home with an attractive girlfriend every other episode.

June 17, 2010

San Francisco: A Brief Review

1. The Hills Are No Joke

People talk about San Francisco being "hilly", but wow. Get used to public transportation, because you're going to need it to get around this city. Even 6-8 block stints can be overwhelming when they're up a 20-degree grade.

2. What the Heck is Your Sweet Tea Made of?

Ok, you know the wonderful hot tea served at Chinese restaurants? When you order "Sweet Tea" in California, you get an iced version of that.  SO weird, and it still boggles my mind.

3. Eco-Friendly Sustainable Food

San Francisco is a food lover's paradise. Our hotel in San Francisco was not only LEED Certified, but its restaurant's entire menu was completely organic and sustainable. And the local farmer's market held at Ferry Marketplace every Saturday is unbelievable.

4. In and Out Burger

I don't exactly know what makes this place so appealing. I come here because I'm a Big Lebowski fan, and the food is featured so prominently in it. But, it really is the best fast food "food" I've ever had.

5. Full House

It's nothing like the show promised me.

June 11, 2010

@andyrooneyhates

I don't want to become an old crotchety man when I grow up. And yet, I'm already nearly there. So, I have created a small satirical Twitter project @andyrooneyhates in order to prevent that.

The goal of the project is to be reminded of how much we don't want to grow up and be like Andy Rooney. And instead, aim to become more like Mr. Rogers as we age.

All you Twitterers can now follow that project as well.

Enjoy your weekend! I'm in San Francisco/Monterey 'til Tuesday, so I'll see you then!

June 10, 2010

What's with Nerds Liking Indian Movie Stars?

Is it simply blind optimism that they would be better received in a foreign country?

That they were sadly punished by being born exactly on the wrong side of the world.

Fellas, I hate to break it to you. You still wouldn't have a chance.

June 09, 2010

World Trade Center Mosque: A Modern-Day Parable

(this is a true story)

Two men went to Ground Zero this past Sunday during a protest against plans to build a mosque just a few blocks north of where the World Trade Center towers once stood.

These Egyptian men began speaking in Arabic to each other, and quickly attracted the attention of the mob around them. The group began shouting "Go home!" and "Get out!" to these men who quickly became both afraid and defensive, before NY police had to intervene and pull the men to safety.

It turns out these two men, Joseph Nassralla and Karam El Masry, were not Muslims at all. They were Christians working for a California-based Christan television network called "The Way" that had flown in to protest the mosque.

It's simply beautiful irony. And I want to know if those men still want to join these protesters that so quickly thin-sliced them as infidels.

June 08, 2010

I Stopped Buying BP Gas

...due to recent events. Yet, this surely brings up a hypocrisy on my part. Because I  randomly chose the next closest gas station to my house (BP had been the closest).

And I did not investigate this no-name company's history of malfeasance. Because if I found something, then I'd have to drive even further away.

June 07, 2010

Simply Bad Writing

My dad lives in the world of theological academia. He reads books written by guys just like him. And he contends that you have to read a book 3 times before you really get the guts out of it.

My contention is that those men are simply bad writers. Brilliant thinkers. But simply bad communicators.

If it takes you 3 times to explain your point, MAYBE the point is SO above human thought that it confounds reason. But maybe it's just because you're wordy.

June 04, 2010

Are Old Hymns Going to Die Off?

I recently had this argument with my parents. As a Christian musician, they can appreciate "what" I am doing, but don't really care for the music I make at all. Nor do they care for the music at any of the churches I've attended during my adult years.

And I can understand that. They want to sing songs they know. They haven't listened to new music in the last 30 years, and it's more fun being able to participate in a church gathering than just stand there.

But, they go beyond that. They publicly state their fear that my generation is going to get rid of all their "classics" in favor of crap.

Now, I would respect that opinion more if they actually kept up with music's evolution. But, they're not true music fans. And many of the "classic" songs they fear we're losing SHOULD be lost.

No one's getting rid of "Amazing Grace" or "How Deep the Father's Love For Us". Those are amazing, powerful songs that will always stand the test of time. The ones that aren't going to make it, probably shouldn't.

June 03, 2010

The Bicyclist's Language is Meaningless

Do you remember learning hand signals in Driver's Ed?

Just in case you happened to be driving in a car made prior to 1940 that didn't have turn signal lights. Well, those are the same signals that I use as a bicyclist. Until today.

Because no one understands them.

"Woah, that dude on a bike is making a chicken wing gesture. What is that?"

"Hey, I think that dude's a nazi! Oh wait, he's just turning right."

Language doesn't work unless it's universal. So now, I make wide gestures with my hands signaling what I'm about to do and everyone understands. That's how language evolves, my friends. And I was a part of it this time.

June 02, 2010

Two Types of People

Those who can grocery shop undistracted by those around them.

And then there's me. Constantly focused on everyone else's cart throughout the entire experience. Going out of my way to make sure I don't get in theirs. Watching people park horizontally in the cereal aisle, oblivious that they're causing an 8-cart backup.

I want to be like them, and I want them to be like me.

June 01, 2010

The Mob Still Does Stuff in Chicago?

We recently had friends come in from the U.K. to visit, and I was surprised to learn something about the foreign perception of Chicago. I thought Michael Jordan would be the first thing they thought about when they hear, "Chicago."

They both shook their heads, and one of them made a machine gun gesture and yelled "Al Capone!"

They think of Chicago as a mob-town! Even today! And that was so disenchanting to me. But after an Easter history lesson from my Italian family, I realized I simply lived in a suburban bubble of wishful thinking.

Super-Brief History of Mob Rule in Chicago

The United States was never a melting pot. People immigrated from Europe and created little mini-towns in whatever cities they went to. Little Italy. Chinatown. Etc. So, the mob worked the same way. The Italian mob and the Irish mob were the main players in Chicago for years. But, the Irish mob decided that getting into politics would be the best way to control the game. And they got in. So, from then on...Unions. Police. Government. All Irish-run. In fact, The Daley's, one of the big families in the Irish community have held the position of Mayor for a combined 42 years and counting.

The Italian mob got stuck with gambling. (Neither side admits to drugs...)

But as far as that all being behind us, I was sadly mistaken. SUPER creepy stuff goes on, even today. Like its nothing. Like its the way stuff gets done.