Numberscruncher: Of Course, Mitt Romney Lies!

It’s a given: Mitt Romney has issues with the truth. I think it’s cultural. People in business learn to lie, and in the big-stakes, big-money worlds of consulting and private equity, the truth isn’t all that valuable.

In my investment ...

Numberscruncher: Who Built What, When?

The 2012 Republican Convention’s theme for Tuesday, August 28 is “We Built It,” a riff on an unfortunate comment by Barack Obama. Obama was trying to make the point that government provides education, infrastructure, police protection, property protection, and other ...

The Popdose 100: The Greatest Cover Songs of All Time

It’s generally agreed upon that if you don’t have any new flavor to add to the original, you shouldn’t bother doing a cover.  But what exactly are the ingredients for a great cover?

There’s no secret recipe.  Some of the songs below ...

Consumerism: The Graceland Mansion Tour

Memphis has a lot of attractions for music fans, all of which seem to exist to help people fill up a weekend and spend lots of money. Only one really matters, though: Elvis Presley’s mansion, Graceland. The pilgrimage has ...

Consumerism: The Motown Tour

Berry Gordy, Jr. served in Korea, returned to Detroit, got a job at Ford, and started writing songs for his friend Jackie Wilson. Gordy figured out two things. First, there was money in publishing. Second, a lot of the kids who ...

Numberscruncher: Billy Ray Cyrus Regrets


It’s really hard to say what’s right and wrong when raising kids. There is so much that’s weird and random about life that setting rules and passing judgment is pointless; even though we all do it, most parents with a ...

Consumerism: Austintown and Fitch

Teenagers all over America open up boxes with Fitch t-shirts this time of year, whether their families celebrate Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Roman Christmas, New Year’s Day, or Russian Orthodox Christmas. They may think they have something that’s crazysexycool, or just a ...

Numberscruncher: Kickstart My Record

Our freelance, indie, do-it-yourself culture has a few major drawbacks, among them a shortage of start-up capital. It is the Great Recession, after all. Banks are happy to take cheap capital from the Federal Reserve Bank, but they haven’t been excited ...

Numberscruncher: Burn This Koran

Nothing makes clear the sorry state of civics education in the United States than all of the kerfuffle over mosques and Korans. Here’s all you need to know: If it is political or religious speech ...

Numberscruncher: Music, Books, and Liz Phair

I admit it. I’m one of the people who loved Liz Phair in the early days and who is confused by the choices she has made. It’s an old and tired story, though, so I’ll mostly spare you the rant. Besides,

Numberscruncher: Mass, Class, and the Blackhawks

The Chicago Blackhawks are one of the great sports turnaround stories. Yeah, they won the Stanley Cup, and we’re all happy about that here in Chicago, but the big story is how the team went from almost no fan ...

Numberscruncher: Mothers, Moms, Politics, and Palin

Although I have given birth, I don’t particularly like being identified as a mother. Even worse, I hate being called “a mom” by anyone other than my son, because that strikes me as a word that only children use. Is being a ...

CD Review: Valgeir Sigurdsson, “Draumalandid (Dreamland)”

Draumalandid is part of a full-on multimedia expose of Alcoa’s aluminum smelters in Reydarfjordur, Iceland. The company’s first plant was planned in 2002, built in 2005, and became live in 2007. The music is the soundtrack to a documentary based on the ...

Numberscruncher: The Blagojevich Family Clothing Budget

People who give personal finance advice tend to give the same advice over and over. That’s because it works. And one of the most basic ways to start getting a grip on your finances is to keep a small notebook and write ...

Numberscruncher: WaMu Scandal’s Legacy Is a Terrible Song Parody

Whenever there’s a corporate scandal, there is going to be an example of ridiculous excess. You can count on it. This time, the excess came from Washington Mutual, you mortgage brothers can’t deny.

I was a happy Washington Mutual customer for years, ...

Numberscruncher: Poland, Plane Crashes, and Risk

Over the weekend, the president of Poland died in a plane crash that also killed many of the top officials of the Polish government, in a tragedy seemingly borrowed from Irving Wallace’s 1964 novel The Man. Wallace’s book was ...

Numberscruncher: The Real Problem With the American Diet

I am tired of all discussions about diet and exercise. Part of the problem for me is that the math is so incredibly imprecise. We are told over and over that weight gain = calories consumed – calories burned, 1 pound = ...

Numberscruncher: Viacom Sues YouTube

A video that always makes me happy, and violates Viacom’s copyright:

YouTube is taking another round of fire in the ongoing debate about intellectual property rights. Earlier this month, the court documents in ...

Numberscruncher: The Costs of Daylight Savings Time

Does anyone like Daylight Savings Time? Seriously?

Twice a year, we go through this hassle of changing the clocks. In the winter, we’re all led to believe that it’s so that the farm children don’t have to wait for the bus ...

Why You Should Like: The Twenty % Tippers

One day last September, the mail included a hand-addressed envelope with a New York City postmark and a return address that turned out to be a Mail Boxes Etc. store near Times Square. Inside was a sheet of paper ...

Numberscruncher: Earthquakes

On Saturday, another devastating earthquake hit, in Chile, and that gives us another chance to look at some of the numbers associated with earthquakes and rebuilding.

The Richter scale, used to measure the magnitude of earthquakes, is a logarithmic ...

Numberscruncher: Taxes Around the World

Americans have a unique phobia about taxes. Years ago, politicians told us that we could have more stuff by paying less money, and we liked that. And so, we believe it despite all evidence to the contrary. And now, our country faces ...