Choice of forum?

If I write a post about a software company in Connecticut from my home state of Massachusetts, and that post is hosted by a blog platform based in California, in which jurisdiction could I be sued for libel?

My bet is Federal court, which would have diversity jurisdiction.

I write this because I’m trying to negotiate with a particular QM computational software company, which is living down to its poor reputation.


Financial advice, bankrupt of content

I recently came across this article on Yahoo Finance.  Was somewhat upset to see this make the front page of lifehacker.  Reading through this article, does it actually say anything?

For example:

Scottrade recently polled 226 registered investment advisers on the topic and found that 71% don’t believe $1 million is enough for the average American family. Most said families need to save double, or more than triple, the amount.

Why would a person need $3,000,000 to retire?  Does that take into account inflation? Does it assume very low interest rates in the long-term future, even though it might make such a figure even more difficult to accumulate?

It seems like a firm just polled investment advisors, who said that we ought to consume a large quantity of their financial products.  I’m sure they would say that all Americans should all have $1.5MM in disability insurance too (the product that Ameriprise got in trouble for pushing).

They belittle the retirement calculators, but without actually running the numbers, how would a person plan? The approach suggested by this– use a one-size, ballpark figure–seems to be the opposite of the smart approach.

iPad: stuck between paradigms?

Just purchased a shiny new iPad, in the 32-GB wifi variety. So far, it’s been a joy to use. Browsing is great, and I think the email client will be super helpful for productivity. (although the longstanding complaint about having to descend into subfolders and mail accounts and update is still applicable.)

I don’t think I’ll be able to post a comprehensive review of the kind at Ars Technica (link coming). The one thing I’ll point out is that typing on the on-screen keyboard is not too bad– this post was composed using the WordPress universal app, for example, and the speed of composition was limited by my mental speed of composition, not my flitting fingers.

The one tricky thing seems to me is the ability to move data/content/information between applications, and the lack of a repository for files. Especially without the ability to multitasking, it’s vitally important to be able to cut-and-paste in a way that would replicate the intuitive dragging in Mac OS X.

In this app, for example, it seems that pasting is disabled (!), which makes no sense to me. Maybe it’s because the word press app would know how to deal with copied pictures or something.

I suppose this is a complaint, fundamentally, that the iPad offers slick-looking applications that appear so promising, but aren’t running on a general-purpose computer. We’ll see if my growing experience or the new os update coming on thursday addresses any of these issues.

Late summer reading list, nonfiction edition

A typical summer brings time to read.  This one has brought very few of the nice summer days that would give a person an excuse to spend time outside reading.  As a result, the Bagel is a bit behind in his summer reading, but I’ve got the following list of nonfiction books assembled, in a few thematic groups.  I’d also welcome any suggested additions to my meager list of fiction.

Richard M. Nixon: A Life in Full, Conrad Black
Nixonland, Rick Perlstein
What’s the matter with Kansas?, by Thomas Frank
A biography of the most emotionally complicated president in modern times, and a look at the political world in which he operated, and which he left behind.

The Pornography of Power, Robert Scheer
Takeover, Charlie Savage
Law and the Long War, Benjamin Wittes
A look at how defense law and policy changed during the Bush administration, from an insider’s point of view (Wittes) and from more jaded ones.

The Unaffordable Nation, Jeffery Jones
Not Keeping Up with Our Parents, Nan Mooney
Not Buying It, Judith Levine
A set of books that ask, What has happened to the American dream of a decent, middle-class life?  If it’s gone forever, we might as well learn to be happy without its excesses of consumption, hence the book by Judith Levine about a year without shopping.

Bowling Alone, Robert Putnam
Better Together, by Robert Putnam
Bobos in Paradise, by David Brooks
On Paradise Drive, David Brooks
Class Matters, collected stories the New York Times series of the same
A series on the state of the American community.  The books by Robert Putnam take a more sociological approach, with figures and data to back up every assertion, while David Brooks psychoanalyzes the upper middle class.  Somehow his broad statements, likely based on his anecdotal experiences in suburban circles of Washington and New York, so often ring true to me.

The English American, by Alison Larkin
Last Night at the Lobster, by Stewart O’Nan
As an Anglophile, I can’t resist the first novel listed.  The second is a slim volume, almost a novella, and was well-reviewed.

The Bagel is Back!

We’ve been on hiatus for about six weeks in order to get work done IRL.  But with the election in full swing, and with the financial world entering the apocalypse, it’s time to get to re-enter the world of hyperlinks, trackbacks, and snarky comments.

To commemorate our re-launch, we’ll be running three substantive posts this week: the first about a pair of notable advertising campaigns, the second about the EFF’s suit to end the warrantless wiretapping program, and the third on the media coverage of the Wall Street bailout proposal, which failed today.

But first, an acknowledgment: the Bagel was wrong.  Sen. Dodd was not selected as Barack Obama’s running matel; that job went to Sen. Joe Biden.  Likewise, our un-published prediction that Sen. McCain would choose Lindsay Graham or Olympia Snowe went unfulfilled, although there’s a slim chance that Graham may get the job after all.

Long shot: It’s Dodd

Quick post with a prediction for the Democratic vice presidential nominee: Sen. Chris Dodd.  He’s smart, well-spoken even if he doesn’t excite people, and cares deeply about constitutional rights.


Sen. Chris Dodd

Sen. Chris Dodd

Joe Biden would work, too, but we’re feeling contrarian today.

IOC Embarrassed?

An excerpt from an IOC-BOGOC press conference held today was posted on  In it, reporter Alex Thompson asks an IOC spokeswoman five times whether the IOC is “embarrassed” about Beijing’s performance with regard to human rights promises.

A grilling at the Olympics

In the interest of fairness, we’d like to excerpt the response of Beijing Olympic Committee secretary Wang Wei: Continue reading