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Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Bridge is On

There's some blog-rot for you--nearly 6 months since the last post.

NYC has been interesting. One thing that has been lacking is a sense of the city's hip hop culture. I did buy a couple mixes from a little stall on 14th St--one was a good mix of Nas's new and old stuff. And you see kids (and men) breakin' for cash in the subways..or in Columbus Circle. But you don't see graff in Manhattan. Got to get to the outer boroughs for that.

I did buy Soundwalk's Bronx series, and I'm looking forward to taking the 4/5/6 up there to do the graff and hip hop walks. (I actually bought the physical CD from Amazon instead of merely the mp3s through their website, since that gives you all 3 Bronx tours in nice packing, for the price of 2 via their website.)

But I'm running out of time..just a few weekends left here in the city.

Tonight, I was about to get to bed, flipping through our limited selection of channels, when I came across someone interviewing Q-Tip. Turned out to be an episode of "The Bridge"
which is all about showing classic NYC hip hop videos. Really regret not finding this earlier--just over the past few weeks I missed episodes about Brooklyn, the Bronx, Staten Island--check the link above and just take a look at the playlists of videos!

But glad I caught this episode, which was dedicated to Dilla. A number of great videos for Dilla-produced tracks--a couple of Tribe's ("1nce Again", "Find a Way"); a couple off Q-Tip's "Amplified" ("Breathe & Stop", "Vivrant Thing"); plus Common's "The Light"; and brief interviews w/ not only Q-Tip, but also Waajeed and Geology.

Here's something weird--I randomly talked to Geology when he, Waajeed, Rich Medina, and Theo came through Mighty in September.

In grabbing the link for Rich Medina's site, discovered he's got this monthly at SOB's dedicated to Fela & Afro-beat...another thing that has been lacking from my NYC stay has been any going out to listen to music.

I have had some good and interesting times in the city--a la Fela, the best day was prob the Saturday afternoon evening that I hit a Romare Bearden exhibition at a gallery in Midtown, then scampered down to Grand Central and took the 7 out to LIC; with Joel took the G to BAM, just in time to catch a screening of "Fela! Fresh From Africa"; talked to the filmmakers and the artist Ghariokwu Lemi, who did a lot of Fela's album covers (got to try to make it out to Williamsburg this weekend to catch his show, "Political Cartoons from Nigeria"--I gave him my e-mail address, and he forwarded me not only the flyer for his show, but also this NYT article that mentions him); from there back on the subway, out to the Brooklyn Museum, for their fantastic free 1st Saturday--caught the Annie Leibowitz and "Tigers of Wrath" exhibits, but didn't have time for a couple other exhibits, which I'll have to try to make it back for. We closed the museum, but our night wasn't over--went back in to Fort Greene, and after considering going into "Stonehome Wine Bar" and then Moe's, we ended up down the block at a shiny relatively new bar called Mullane's--which turned out to be fun b/c we talked to the colorful Irish proprietor for a while.

Come to think of it, that wasn't even the end of the night, b/c we'd neglected to eat dinner, so after getting dropped off back in the East Village, I got a tasty gyro at Cinderella's on 2nd Ave (after stopping and talking to Justin, the Quebecois guy setting up his Xmas tree operation in front of St. Mark's), and then met Matteo at Lit Lounge, which we closed down.

I need some more nyc nights like that one..

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Stevie on Sesame St.

In between doing some fixed income homework, I checked out Soul Sides. I was happily surprised to see this Soul Sides/Mark Anthony Neal collaboration--a M.A.N. blog entry about Billy Preston, whose obit I'd read in the NYT a couple weeks ago (which Adam I talked about while hanging out last weekend).

That Soul Sides entry took me to another audioblog tribute to Billy Preston. Poking around that blog, I found this entry about YouTube, which gives links for a bunch of soul performances you can watch there. E.g., here is Stevie doing "Superstition" on Sesame Street.

Thursday, May 18, 2006 top 10 charts

The mechanics of stochastic calculus are finally making this late date. Should've figured this out weeks ago. I eventually need/want to learn more of the mathematics. But unfort there's just not time right now.

Listening to some jazz through iTunes, and as always uploading the track info I've already pasted into my template the html badge for showing recently played tracks--it's there on the RHS, along with badges showing recent content from my flickr and account (neither of which I've had time to add content to lately), and also my account (which I have somewhat).

But I just discovered that provides a snippet of html code for including my most played artists overall. The entire list of 277 artists makes for an interesting "long-tailed" distribution. But here's the top 10:

A few anomalies there: I think Derrick May is so high b/c I just shuffled through his tracks one day. Plantlife we listened to heavy for a few weeks after first picking it up last summer, but haven't gotten back to it much. Interesting that Caetano Veloso is there. Prince should move up b/c I shuffled through his tracks all last weekend.

Might as well include top 10 tracks too:

Didn't realize the Big Pun and Greyboy tracks had gotten so many spins. The others def I play often. Here is where I got the Coke Escovedo track...what a burner. I really should get out and buy some Coke Escovedo. And also I should get the new Soul Sides comp--considering how much music and knowledge that site has dropped on me. (And look at that, he included William Bell's "I Forgot to be a Lover"! If he posted that on Soul Sides, I missed it. I bought it through the iTunes music store a couple months ago after reading a NYT review of a Jaheim concert which noted as an aside that his "Put that Woman First" is a reworking of the Bell track (which itself has some echoes of Van Morrison in places).

Now that I think of it, it's odd that "Put that Woman First" isn't among the top 10 above. I play the hell out of that track.

Actually, now that I check my page again, it's tied for #10 with the Luther track (which has it's own story behind it)...and oddly the William Bell is up there at #10 already as well.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

the death & life of Jane Jacobs

The blogging has been much less steady since my schedule got a lot busier about 6.5 weeks ago. E.g., I should be reading for a quiz that I have to take in about 7 hours: CAPM, APT
--both of which fall under the general category of factor models. That's a nice collection of links there that Google turned up for those 3 topics; e.g., the latter one is from Sharpe himself, who developed CAPM (for which he won the Nobel Prize in 1990).

But this post was meant to be about Jane Jacobs. However, given that I have other more pressing things to do, I just wanted to post the NYT obit, as well as a Slate obit by Witold Rybczynski. I still haven't read The Death and Life of Great American Cities. It's been on my to-read list for a long time.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

more on Shiller & "risk in the 21st century"

My post from a couple weeks about Robert Shiller and his book about risk management generated a comment from another student of mathematical finance.  He was cool and included a link to a WSJ article with some related news--some of his ideas are going from theory into practice!

After that, I came across another another article these new S&P/Case-Shiller home price indexes in the NYT last Saturday.  Very interesting stuff.

It motivated me to order a copy of The New Financial Order from Amazon just now.  I bundled it with two additional finance books I'll have to read sooner or later: Fooled by Randomness and When Genius Failed.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Two from last Oct's NYT Book Review

The last two weeks passed quickly. The workload and amount of material is quickly ramping up for us. In fact, here it is late on a Friday night and I'm doing some bond duration calculations.

But in between Tex-ing up this problem set (which might be more trouble than it's worth--but it's actually fun to be using it again), I've been trying to clear out a few old e-mails. I've got a lot of the NYT Books Update e-mails piled up. I usually skim it when it arrives, and if there's a review in there that looks interesting, the e-mail doesn't get deleted.

So here are two from last September(!): a review of Jeff Chang's book, and an interesting essay about Bloom's "Closing of the American Mind."

I still haven't picked up Chang's "Can't Stop Won't Stop"--and sad as it is to say, now that I'm getting into the MFE, I'm realizing such readings might have to be put on hold. (Just have to be mindful that they don't get put on hold forever).

I read most of "Closing" about 6 years ago, and more recently read Bellow's "Ravelstein." As the essay notes, Bellow prodded Bloom into writing "Closing." What I remember most about "Closing" is the wonderful overview of Western philosophy Bloom provides.

OK, I can delete that e-mail...more soon, hopefully. One event of interest I wanted to blog was a visit to the Commonwealth Club last week, to see Amartya Sen speak. And another one coming up this weekend is the SFJazz Collective, which we're going to check out Sunday evening, as a birthday present from my in-laws.

I got some links saved about both those.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Shiller's "New Financial Order"

I'm back at the SF Main Library this afternoon. I thought I'd be here much less, if at all, now that classes have started. But since there are no classes Thurs and Fri, I'll aim to get here on some of those days, when I don't have to be at Berkeley. I came here today after going over to Berkeley for the morning, where we had a good group discussion about time series. (I'm debating whether to buy a copy of that text.)

I should be much more focused working here, as opposed to home--assuming I keep out of the stacks, where there is way too much to keep me distracted.

I struck a decent balance this afternoon. I looked up a copy of this book, which should be a very good reference for Rubinstein's financial economics course--and a good reference to have around in general. (Regarding Rubinstein's course, I'm eagerly awaiting the copy of his book, which I ordered on Monday. I stopped by the Cal bookstore--the only thing on campus open today, Cesar Chavez Day--and skimmed it a bit. It looks wonderful--a very readable intellectual history of the theory of finance.)

I read that for a bit, which is really studying for the course. But I also grabbed a copy of this book by Shiller, which I've been meaning to look at. It looks like this is going to be essential reading--it's really about financial engineering as a way of giving ourselves novel forms of risk management, for the greater benefit of society. I'll write more on it once I buy a copy and read it.

After reading bits of those books, I got around to some real work--homework. I spent way too long puzzling over some no-arb relations for futures...

BTW, it's remarkable how the internet-connected computers here at the library are used to near-capacity. I was lucky to find one open computer after climbing up 3 floors.

Ok, time to head home.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

shopping in McAllen

Haven't had much time to write up here lately, since orientation was last week and classes started this week. It looks like all 3 classes (fundamental of financial economics; stochastic calculus; and empirical methods, i.e., financial econometrics) will be very good, but very challenging and time-demanding.

The time leading up to jumping back into school was good. It was nice to have
Baba visit, esp since I got to take them all around the city. In one day, we walked across the Mission to Dolores Park, then down to the Castro; took the F-Market to Powell, and walked up to Union Square and the top of Nob Hill; walked down into Chinatown, and had lunch on Broadway; had coffee on Columbus in N Beach, then walked down to Fisherman's Wharf; took the F-Market back to the Ferry Building, and walked around and through there; took the N-Judah to China Basin, and walked around SBC; then finally took the N-Judah back to Church, and caught the J-Church back to where we started.

The next day we only did a half-day out, but got to the Civic Center, and spent quite a bit of time in the Main Library and the Asian Art Museum. So much time, in fact, that by the time we took the N Judah out to the Inner Sunset and walked into GG Park and over to the deYoung, it was too late to either get a coffee or go up to the observation deck.

The day after that, we drove out over the GG Bridge, skirted across the north Bay, and then over to Sacramento. I continued on to Tahoe with Mark, while Ma and Baba returned to Berkeley.

The long weekend in Tahoe was good. I'd been debating whether I'd get out on the slopes at all, but since it was looking like fun, and since we got a St. Patrick's Day special on lift tickets at Squaw, I rented a snowboard and went out with the guys. Glad I did--I picked up where I left off after Anj's tutoring last year, and was able to stay on my feet and off the snow for the most part, and make it down some runs.

Other than that, the weekend consisted of watching basketball, playing Monopoly, eating, drinking, lounging.

OK, that's the update. About the subject line: I'd planned to just post this link, so that I can clear out my inbox a bit. It's always interesting to see something about 'the Valley'--and this article was prominent on the front page of the WSJ (3-3-06). The headline was "Thanks to Mexican Shoppers, Retail Booms on Texas Border."

If you've been reading carefully, you may remember a few months ago I alluded to this retail boom--and specifically to the profusion of Mexican shoppers at La Plaza Mall, which the article is primarily about--when I blogged during our last trip to South Texas (see the 1st paragraph here).

Since you may not have time or access to click through to the WSJ, here are the first few paragraphs:
MCALLEN, Texas -- Hidalgo County, in the southernmost tip of Texas, is the poorest county of 250,000 or more people in the U.S., with nearly half its families living below the poverty line. Vendors hawk bootleg DVDs and homemade tacos out of the back of pickup trucks. Stray dogs roam the scrubland along highways. Hidalgo is also home to one of America's highest-grossing shopping malls, the sprawling La Plaza Mall of McAllen, Texas.

Owned by Simon Property Group Inc., the nation's No. 1 mall developer, La Plaza features valet parking, trendy clothing chains like Abercrombie Fitch Co. and Banana Republic, and high-end jewelers Swarovski and Helzberg Diamonds. La Plaza generates monthly sales of well over $450 a square foot, compared with a national mall average of $392. Next year, Simon, of Indianapolis, plans to open the 600,000-square-foot Palms Crossing shopping center a half-mile away. In nearby Mercedes, Simon is opening the $68 million Rio Grande Valley Premium Outlets, a 400,000-square-foot, upscale outlet, in November.

The reason: Mexican shoppers, both rich and poor, are pouring into the area, making it the equivalent of Madison Avenue for northern Mexico's consumer class. Border agencies tally nearly 40 million legal visits a year by Mexicans coming to Texas for leisure activities. The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas figures they spent $3 billion on merchandise in Texas border counties in 2004, the latest data available, up from around $1.6 billion a decade earlier. In the past 10 years, retail sales in McAllen have risen more than 75%, nearly double the nationwide pace of 40%. Per-capita sales here are twice the national average, according to the census.

The activity demonstrates an unexpected development in American retailing. While Mexican money has long flowed north, the current upsurge has turned South Texas' poor borderlands into the latest, and one of the last, ripe frontiers for big retailers. At a time when major retail chains are facing declining market share and tepid sales in America's affluent suburbs, they are finding unexpected hope in the Mexican consumer.

Forty of the nation's top 100 retailers have recently staked their claim here. When Guess Inc. launched its new clothing boutique, Marciano, in 2004, the company chose Los Angeles, Toronto and McAllen as its three test cities. Foley's, a chain of department stores in Texas owned by Federated Department Stores Inc., Cincinnati, says operations in McAllen and nearby Laredo are its fastest-growing locations. J.C. Penney Co., Plano, Texas, says about three quarters of customers at its McAllen store are from Mexico and last year the chain allowed Mexican shoppers to apply for its gift registry and credit card. The store offers bilingual gift cards and an in-store beauty salon popular with Mexican women.

This reminds me that one of the very first blog posts I did on Steady Blogging, back in June 2003, was to save an article in the NYT Business section. The headline: "Mexican Wealth Gives Texas City a New Vitality"! (To see my blog post, you'll have go here and then scroll down to near the bottom, to the "Sat, June 14"...
I was doing all the html from scratch then, and even though I actually tried to insert permalinks for each entry, I didn't get it right for that one! Although the formatting is totally DIY--which actually has its own appeal--in scrolling through, it's nice to see I posted some interesting links.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

blogging live from squaw

I came up to Tahoe yesterday for the 2nd annual PBG trip. Our spot is nice. Some of the guys wanted to do Squaw today, so we came here. 4 of them bought lift tickets and spent the morning on the slopes, while the remaining 2 of us (me and Dust) spent the morning grazing, talking and watching the opening games of the tourney. Right now we're having lunch at Sundeck Tavern, right next to where the Funitel goes up to the Gold Coast.

I brought the laptop with in case some wireless access was to be had. It cost $8 for the day.

Monday, March 13, 2006

taylor branch @ commonwealth club

taylor branch @ commonwealth club
Originally uploaded by shooGu.
It was already 2 1/2 weeks ago that I went to see and hear Taylor Branch at the Commonwealth Club. A powerful, moving, inspiring afternoon. Fruitful too--I bought both Parting the Waters and Pillar of Fire there, and got them both signed by the man. Which is somewhat ironic, considering he's on book tour for the third and final volume (At Canaan's Edge). It made sense to me, since I got the two as paperbacks, wheras ACE is only in hardcover as of now, as a newly published book.

What a monumental achievement. Something like 2000 pages in total--a completely readable and accessible narrative history. The history of...MLK, the civil rights movement; but really, as he alludes to in the subtitles, it's a history of of America in the King years: 1953-1968.

BTW, could someone explicate the biblical references of the titles? I get "parting the waters"--but the others?

I took copious notes on the whole public interview. I've got them in my pocket notebook, and have been meaning to get around to writing them up and posting them here. Look for them.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

time is moving on

My 2.5 months of schedule-free living are already gone. Not to say that the remaining 8 days until orientation starts won't be enjoyable. My parents arrived in town earlier this evening, so we'll be chilling with them for the next few days. I'm looking forward to taking them around the city Mon and Tues. Hopefully the weather will cooperate.

Some spots I was thinking we should hit: SF's traditional neighborhoods--Chinatown, N Beach, Nob and Russian Hills; Civic Center (Main Lib, Asian Art); at least the observation deck the sculpture garden of the deYoung; the Beach Chalet; the Legion of Honor (primarily for the earthquake (re)photo exhibit).

And we'll have to do some walking around the Mission. They enjoyed checking out the veg and fish markets last time they were here. Maybe we'll hit a coffeeshop, perhaps get a burrito..or some pupusas.

So that's plenty to keep us busy til Wed. Then I head up to Tahoe to meet the guys, who are flying in from various locales. We'll be up there til Sunday. I'm leaning towards skipping the slopes altogether. Looking forward to simply catching up with the fellas, and watching plenty of basketball.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

iPod/music/Chappelle's block party

I haven't done a rambling and/or music-centered post in a while. This really shouldn't be it, since I've got more pressing things to do (I've got to finish typing up some notes for a math lecture I've got to give in a week). But we just got back from catching "Dave Chappelle's Block Party" at the Metreon, and it's got me back into some music.

So just now I erased our old iPod (crazy that 2.5 years consitutes old in our day and age), since it's stuck on hold, and the only way I can navigate is with the in-line remote--which means I can only click " and " to cycle through songs sequentially. Short of getting the thing fixed, which I think is unlikely, what I'm going to do is just load up the most recent additions to my iTunes library.

So I created a smart playlist for those recent additions, and put only that on the iPod, so that I've got a manageable 50 songs on there now. What I've added to my libarary since Feb 3: the Rashaan Patterson disc we borrowed from Little Man, a handful of Breakdown FM podcasts, and a bunch of tracks downloaded from breath of life and soul sides.

Which brings me back to my point: the Chappelle movie triggered me to get back to the music. In addition to going mobile with the new iPod config, here's what I want to be doing:
  • Getting to soul sides and breath of life on a regular basis--which I already do...but also reading the essays as I listen to the tracks
  • Revisiting some of that 90s hip-hop neo-soul that the Chappelle flick got me thinking about again, which I haven't been listening to much lately: basically exactly the lineup of the block party, plus Tribe (as the progenitors), plus D'Angelo (the only one lacking from the lineup)
  • Getting back to some jazz. I thought I had written here, but apparently I didn't, that I'm listening to less jazz in SF than I did in Ann Arbor. Actually, that's true of both recordings and live shows. How cool that one of Dave's asides in the movie was him recommending we all study Thelonius Monk.
I had some other thoughts about the movie that I was thinking about writing up, but probably won't get around to it. One of those thoughts was how that group of musicians--that school of 90s hip hop and neo-soul, what this VV blogger called the Okayplayer aesthetic--is the closest some of us come to have a contemporary culture that we (have) connect(ed) with. But I wasn't articulating that idea too convincingly to Anj just now, so I'm not even going to try to explicate it in writing. I will just say that I'm glad I caught Common and the Roots a handful of times in that period that they were our zeitgeist, and regret not seeing Mos Def in that period.

I had some other random thoughts, but it turns out a surprising number of them are subsumed among the things that that VV blogger learned while watching Dave Chappelle's Block Party. (That blogger's got a name--Tom Breihan...give credit where credit is due--something I just gleaned from sepiamutiny's reblogging policy. One more thing: I've got to get to "Status Ain't Hood" more regularly.)

For instance, I actually did read "?uestlove's mammoth OKP post from immediately after the show"--which goes to show I was wasting a fair amount of time on music blog around that time; I also thought Jill Scott just about sang Erykah off the stage; and seeing/hearing Lauryn again gave me goosebumps too. (I appreciate all the more after reading and listening to this masterful week on breath of life.)

Ok, enough on all that. Got to get to typing some math.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Redevelopment in the Bayview

I'm clearing out this week's SFGate e-mails right now, and read this article about the Bayview:

Some in Bayview fear the 'r' word / Redevelopment proposal spurs painful memories
Patricia Wright's girlhood home in San Francisco's Western Addition and most of the houses on her block were bulldozed in the 1960s by the Redevelopment Agency.

In the name of urban renewal, longtime residents -- mostly poor and African American -- were sent packing, and many never came back.

For Wright, who is now 52 and lives in the Bayview home to which she relocated as a child, the resentment still runs deep.

"I have no trust in them whatsoever," she said. "When I hear the words 'redevelopment' and 'urban renewal,' I think it really means urban removal."

Those painful memories have Wright and some others who live in the Bayview-Hunters Point area, a predominately black community situated on the city's southeastern edge, fearful that history could repeat itself.

They've come out in force against a Redevelopment Agency proposal to place about 1,300 acres -- more than half of the Bayview -- under its jurisdiction. The plan would create the largest redevelopment district in San Francisco history, and the agency promises to clean up blight, build affordable housing and stimulate business with the help of property tax dollars.

But while people like Wright are reluctant to trust an agency that they say betrayed them in the past, others look to the Redevelopment Agency to be the catalyst for improvements the Bayview desperately needs.

The area is plagued by crime and poverty, and abandoned buildings, crumbling facades and vacant lots are commonplace. But the neighborhood's main drag, Third Street, soon will be home to a new light-rail system linking the struggling community to the city's downtown, making the Bayview attractive to real estate investors and developers who have long ignored it.
The urban renewal projects, alluded to above, that targeted the Western Addition and the Fillmore in the 50s and 60s seem to be regarded now as failures (just like other similar projects elsewhere in the country, such as the UofC-directed cleanup of 55th St in Hyde Park, which replaced a stretch of jazz clubs and bars with monoxide towers...)

The Western Addition and the Fillmore are still African-American neighborhoods, though from what I can gather, they're diminished in that regard. It's interesting--though perhaps not that surprising, really--that some refugees of those urban renewal migrated southeast to the Bayview.
The Bayview has been an African-American community since at least the 40s, I would guess, when thousands of blacks migrated from the South--primarily from Texas, Lousiana, and Arkansas--to California to work in the factories and shipyards that sprung up during WWII, in both the Bay Area and LA. (I've gathered this from a few sources: a biography of Huey P. Newton, whose family came to Oakland from Louisiana; Walter Mosley's Easy Rawlins novels, which chronicle the post-war history of LA's African American community, many of them, like Easy himself, with roots in Houston and East Texas; and finally, a book titled Prophets of Rage; The Black Freedom Struggle in San Francisco, 1945-1969, which I read the first chapter of when I finally made it up in January to visit the SF History Center (on the 6th floor of the SF Main Public Libary; which reminds me that ever since, I've been meaning to blog about their collection of SF historical photographs...)

Whereas those neighborhoods are in the geographic hear of the city, the Bayview is geographically remote. The 3rd Street Light Rail is supposed to address that. (If you're at all interested in urban planning and public transit issues, specifically in the Bay Area, get yourself to SFCityScape right away.)

But as the article above communicates, such development can be a double-edged sword for communities. The SFBG had a cover story last October about the 3rd St Rail and its implications for the Bayview a while back. While I'm no longer convinced by their hard-left anti-development stances ("Attack of the million-dollar condos") , they did have an interesting piece in there about how "Longtime Bayview homeowners are cashing out and leaving town":
Now, 30 years after she and her late husband bought the place, Johnson's careful attention is finally paying off. Her three-bedroom house on Shafter Street in the Bayview sold for $660,000 after only two weeks on the market. Johnson is headed for a better life in Houston, where she's having a house twice the size built in a gated community by a lake – for a quarter of the price.

(Though of course longtime African-Americans in the Bayview aren't the only Bay Area residents thinking about moving out b/c of real estate prices in these parts; also in Monday's SFChron was this article.)

I was just thinking again earlier this week that I should get down to the Bayview in that last couple weeks of flexibility that I have left. Maybe I'll get down and visit the Bayview branch of the SFPL. Unfortunately the 3rd Street Rail still isn't finished, so I'll have to take the 15...

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Mango time

Appropriately, it was fatmango who pointed me to SepiaMutiny.

This link, however, is for Anj. Ennis posted the following on SP today:

Mmmmmmmangoes! - Sepia Mutiny
For me, the sweetest fruit of Bush’s bisit to India is that finally, after 17 years of trying, Indian mangoes will soon be available in the US. Thus far, desis in the US have had to settle for Mexican mangoes, which are neither as sweet nor as juicy as what one can get back in the sub-continent.
More on Bush's trip to India coming up...

Photos from the roof (and around the city)

twin peaks, mt sutro
Originally uploaded by shooGu.
It's a rare and exciting event when we here at SteadyBlogging get a comment. So when a comment also contains a request, we honor it.

So here is one photo taken from the roof: looking west towards Twin Peaks, Mount Sutro & Sutro Tower, the 17th St pass. A few more shots that I took last Thursday from the roof last week can be seen here.

In fact, I took a bunch of shots around the city last Thursday. Also took a few more Friday, but I haven't uploaded them as of yet.

Monday, February 27, 2006

the week/end in review

I'm not doing very well at keeping up with the avalanche of paper that is coming into our home. We've been getting the NYT Mon-Sat for the last few years, and I was doing reasonably well with just that. But then a few months ago we were able to subscribe to the WSJ using some dormant frequent flyer miles. I needed to start reading the latter anyways, so now we get those two every day of the week other than Sunday.

What often ends up happening is that on Sunday evening I skim a thick stack of papers. That's what I did last night. There were a handful of articles I wanted to save/blog. I'm not going to blog them right now, in the interest of getting some other stuff done this morning. But I saved the links on my account. See, for example, the pages I've tagged with wsj.

Part of the reason I didn't get through much of the papers as they arrived last week is that it was an active week and weekend. I was going around the city W, Th, and F during the day. In particular: went to Parnassus and then stopped at the SF Main PL Thurs; Fri, went to see Taylor Branch at the Commonwealth Club noontime, which was truly moving and amazing; then caught the 38 Geary across to Larkin to pick up a Vietnamese sandwich for lunch, which I ate sitting out in front of the Asian Art Museum; dropped into the AA Museum for a few minutes, to quickly glance at the Kyoto painting exhibit, and do a bit of reading upstairs; then over to the SFPL again. Took a bunch of photos over those two days. Look for them on flickr.

Fri eve we were out for some sushi at 24th and Castro, and then to Hayes Valley for a birthday party. Sat aft we walked to Cole Valley and then caught the 43 to the Inner Sunset; Anj did some work at the Canvas Gallery while I walked through the Botanic Garden, to the top of Strawberry Hill, and over to the new deYoung, stopping and reading some statistics along the way. Sat night we got some pupusas and went down to Argus to hear Subtext and Swahilisheen spin some wrekeds. It was entertaining evening, in no small part due to to a bottle of Anejo that we brought back from Santo Domingo, and was kicked in the space of an hour (not by us, mind you).

Sunday we cleaned the crib, and then got a Photoshop tutorial, right after we did a short graf walking tour. In the evening we had some tasty homecooked Korean food for dinner.

If you want to know what I'm listening to right now, go here. Been listening to 98.1 Kiss FM a lot lately. Just played: "Step in the Name in Love."

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Energy swap in the Economist

Following up on my previous post, this is that Economist article:

The whole article is interesting and worth reading, but the paragraph that caught my eye was this one:
Sun Edison, an American start-up backed by Goldman Sachs and BP, has devised a clever new business model that overcomes a number of the real-world obstacles that have hitherto stymied renewable-energy projects. Simply put, it offers big retailers (such as Whole Foods and Staples) long-term, fixed-price electricity contracts in return for being able to set up solar panels on their rooftops. The retailers benefit from stable power prices, but do not have to buy or run the panels themselves; Goldman Sachs, which finances the panels, benefits from the associated tax credits and other offsets; BP sells more solar panels; and solar power has a better chance of taking off. Meanwhile, other ventures are looking to wind energy for a hedge. Several firms are putting together hybrid financial products that combine the output of wind farms in America's mid-west with that of natural gas-fired plants—thus hedging the volatility of both.
I've heard from other sources that energy derivatives are a hot field. Obviously there are the simple and well-known derivatives like oil futures. But then there are more complicated "engineered" ones like the swap described above.

I liked this reference because it shows how financial engineering can do good for the world.

Derivatives in the news

I'm at home this morning, finally starting to review some material for the MFE. Something I've been meaning to start blogging are the interesting finance-related articles and topics I come across.

Indeed, it's been interesting how often financial engineering pops up, usually in the guise of derivatives. Well, I suppose it's not too surprising to find it in WSJ and Economist articles--but they are references that would have gone over my head just 6 months ago, before I started learning about the subject.

Here are two articles, one from the WSJ and one from the Economist. The WSJ article is from earlier this week
The hedge-fund tactics the headline refers to are primarily trading in derivatives:
Pressured by weak stock-market returns and greater competition for investors' money, a growing number of mutual funds are making use of investment strategies typically found in riskier hedge funds.

A number of major mutual-fund companies, including Allianz Global Investors, Julius Baer Holding AG's GAM subsidiary, and Alliance Capital Management's AllianceBernstein, have recently asked fund shareholders for permission to change the rules governing how they can invest to include a range of hedge-fund-like investment strategies. Some of the new techniques being adopted include making complex derivative trades, investing with borrowed money and short selling. (Short selling involves selling borrowed shares in order to profit from an expected price decline.) Even some conservative U.S. government bond funds are adding risk with more derivative strategies.

And later in the article:
The biggest changes are coming in traditional stock funds, a number of which are now shorting stocks for the first time and using complicated derivatives, which are financial contracts whose value is based on -- or derived from -- some underlying stock, currency, commodity or other investment. To be sure, some mutual funds have long used basic derivatives, such as stock-index futures, but a growing number are now expanding into more exotic types. Oppenheimer shareholders last month approved plans to allow several of the company's funds to trade derivative contracts tied to the price of commodities or currencies....

Bond funds, too, are changing tactics to boost returns. Shareholders of Seligman U.S. Government Securities fund voted recently to allow the fund to increase its investments in bonds that don't have government backing and in derivatives. And Principal Global late last year altered its government bond fund to begin including commercial mortgage-backed securities and using derivative strategies.

Predictably, the article spins this as a risky move, which indeed it may be, depending on how a given fund trades in derivatives. But an overarching theme of derivatives is that there are two sides to every trade in them: they allow for risky speculation on one side, but they allow for hedging of risk on the other side. A fund which allows itself to trade in currency derivatives could very well use them to reduce the currency risk to which its shareholders are exposed via its other (equity or bond) holdings.

The 2nd article I was going to post is an Economist article from a few months ago. Surprisingly, there was a reference to derivatives was buried inside an interesting article about alternative energy.

But I can't find the link right now, and I've got to get going. So that one will have to wait.

A photo from DC

suman & middu aunty
Originally uploaded by shooGu.
I downloaded, from our camera to my laptop, all the photos from our recent trip. But I haven't yet uploaded them. First we need to title (and tag) them, which is a daunting task.

Actually I did upload a handful: two that I took in China Basin on the Friday before we left town, and three from our visit to DC. Here's one from our visit to the US Botanic Garden, which is right next to the Capitol. Anj took about 40 photos of the orchids on display--this is one of the few with people in the photos.

You can click through on the photo to go to the Flickr page.

Actually, I've been meaning to mention that you can click through on any of the "badges" in the column to the right, which will lead you to,, flickr, and, respectively. For example, if you click on the badge, you'll see what tracks I've listened to in the past hour.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

In the Mission

I thought with these 2 1/2 months I'd be getting around the city more, but that hasn't really happened. Instead, I've been spending more time in and around our neighborhood. I think it's primarily inertia related to transportation. It's easier to stay on foot, and it's possible to get and do just about everything in the 'hood.

Today, for instance, I walked/jogged 3 separate times, in 3 different directions. First in the morning, down Mission, Valencia, and Capp, to our branch of the public library. I returned 3 items we were finished with, all related to our recent trip to the DR: Lonely Planet's Latin American Spanish phrasebook, the Rough Guide to Merengue and Bachata CD, and Lonely Planet's guidebook to the DR (and Haiti). I left with only one book ("Merengue: Dominican Music and Dominican Idenitity" by Paul Austerlitz). Also picked up some onions and lemons at the 23rd & Mission market on the way home.

Second, Anj and I went for a vigourous walk into Dolores Heights in the middle of the afternoon. Across on 21st, up to the highest point up there, and back down through Dolores Park.

Finally, I ran down to our post office at 23rd and S. Van Ness to try to get our held mail. They redirected me to the post office at 16th and Bryant, so I jogged over there. But they didn't have our mail either, so I just ran home.

I am beginning to feel how the neighborhood approximates a small town, or a village.

There was an article in the Travel section of the NYT last November about our neighborhood, which I've saved with the intention of posting. It's pretty good, with some interesting bits about the history of the area. Here's the link, and the first few paragraphs:

San Francisco's Mission District: Eclectic, Eccentric, Electric
Published: November 20, 2005
From the rooftop patio of Medjool, a new restaurant in the Mission district of San Francisco, the entire neighborhood is laid out like a flamboyant mosaic. Ranks of painted ladies - San Francisco's ornate wooden Victorians - rise to Twin Peaks in the west, the hills that block the city's infamous fog and make the Mission one of the city's warmest and sunniest neighborhoods. This terrace is the perfect spot for watching the cottony wave of evening fog roll into downtown, for the sky in the Mission remains crystalline.

At the intersection below, an animated scene of daily life unfolds: sidewalk vendors sell yucca flowers and avocados, blue-haired anarchist daddies push strollers, young men loiter at the corner, Central American housewives and vegan lesbian tattoo artists shop for fresh handmade tortillas.

"I try to get anybody coming to San Francisco to come to the Mission," said Dave Eggers, the best-selling author who set up the first of his community writing schools here. "Not to misuse the word 'authentic' - I think that's such a troubling word - but the Mission really does have all the best parts of San Francisco intersecting here."

That Medjool spot is at 21st and Mission, about 3 blocks from us. It's a bit too much of an upscale scene to be somewhere we frequent, but we have been up to that rooftop patio twice, and the view is spectacular.

Then again, the view from our roof is pretty good too. I'll have to get up there, take some photos, and post them.

Zaha Hadid's Cincinnati building

Just wanted to save this link from today's SF Chronicle, which caught my eye b/c some friends are moving to Cincinnati next month; the first two paragraphs of the article are included below:
PLACE / After the buzz disappears, so do the crowds
When architect Zaha Hadid strutted her stuff on Sixth Street in 2003, critics swooned and attendance soared -- two reasons the Contemporary Arts Center in this long-struggling downtown hired her in the first place.

Three years later, the building's still there. The crowds aren't, judging by what I saw earlier this month. And this would-be icon stands as a cautionary tale: In an age when celebrity architects are courted by cities and institutions desperate to make a splash, brand-name buzz can fade quicker than a fresh coat of paint.

Monday, February 20, 2006

back in the Bay

I've been hearing that more friends and family than I'd thought are dropping in here now and then, so I figured I should get to posting more regularly. Especially with what's been happening in our lives, instead of random links.

We just got back to the Bay late last night, after two weeks on the road. It was a good trip all around, but it's also good to get home. One of the benefits of travel--makes you appreciate home.

So here is where we were:
  • Feb 4-6 in northern Virgina/DC, visiting Anj's aunt and uncle
  • Feb 7-15 in the Dominican Republic; specifically
    • Feb 7-8 in Cabarete, on the north coast
    • Feb 9-13 in Las Terrenas, on the Samana Peninsula
    • Feb 13-15 in Santo Domingo
  • the night of Feb 15 to the morning of Feb 16 in Boston
  • Feb 15 to yesterday morning in Northampton, Massachusetts
  • yesterday afternoon in Cambridge, Mass.
  • yesterday evening into this morning on a JetBlue flight
As with previous trips, I'm hoping to blog in some details about where we were and what we did. With previous trips, however, I've tried to be complete and detailed, and never got around to finishing; see for example, the two long entries (here and here) I wrote up about the first two days of our trip to South America--but I didn't get pasts those first two days!

And now that I go back and look for them, I'm realizing I never wrote up any entries about our trip to Ukraine and Istanbul last May. I did post twice from Ina's apartment in Kyiv on the day we arrived there: go here and here.

More soon...

Sunday, January 29, 2006

more graf archaeology

new 19th @ mission - 1
Originally uploaded by shooGu.
One of the many things that I'd planned to do but haven't done in the new year is get around the city, check out some of the graf I've only seen on flickr, and take some photos.

Indeed, the last graf shots I took were nearly two months ago, and--like the majority of my shots--in our neighborhood.

Indeed, I already posted one of those shots here .

This is a wall that's among the handful on featured on, and soon after the grafarc proprietor commented that he'd posted the newest layer on the site. Take a look.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

a house mix

So many posts I've been meaning to do, and none of them done: a handful of finance-related ones, such as this WSJ article on Muni derivatives, or these Economist and Slate articles on the yield curve, or this Economist article on bond spreads in emerging markets--; updates on stuff I've been reading (finished "China Boy" and then "Mama Day"'; in the middle of Heilbronner's "Teachings from the Worldly Philosophy"; and since yesterday also into Vargas Llosa's "Feast of the Goat" and Bernstein's "Capital Ideas"); and also updates on what we've been doing in SF.

Now I'm back in TX for a longish weekend.  Maybe I'll get to some of those posts this weekend.

But for now, I'm listening right now to this mix, and wanted to share.  As I wrote some folks, I feel like I've been getting away from the music lately, esp house music.  This is a mix to get back into it.

It came via the 313 list.  The guy who posted it is a regular on there, and so I've listened to and loved some of the mixes he's got up on his site.  Take a look and listen.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Teleflip: text messages via e-mail

Since I got on Yahoo IM last fall, I've used it to occasionally to send text messages while sitting at the computer.

Here's a better solution for texting from your PC: Teleflip. I came across it via a TechCrunch entry titled, aptly, How did I not hear about Teleflip before now?. You can go there--TechCrunch is def worth poking around; it's the one tech blog I try to keep up with--but I'll just quote it in full:
Teleflip isn’t new but I had not heard about it until Noah Kagan at Facebook pinged me tonight to tell me about it. It is an incredibly simple way to send a text/sms message to any North American cell phone.
Teleflip™ started when the founder became increasingly frustrated at his inability to send text messages to friends’ cell phones from his PC. It was of course possible, but you had to know the cell phone provider, the correct domain name and the correct syntax for the email address. There had to be an easier way….Teleflip™ was born.
You do not even need to go to the site to use it. Simply email a message to [cellnumber] and the message is sent immediately (I received a test message in less than one minute). I will use this all the time. It is free and there is no advertising. If I were them I’d start adding advertising.
It is sort of odd that you don't need to even go to the site to use the service. I tested it by sending a txt to myself, and one to Anj. It works nicely.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

electric Miles / live jazz

I've finally emerged from the lull that set in soon after the New Year arrived, so look for some more posts. Just occurred to me today that one thing I should do with the next couple months--among the many other things I've planned--is to get up some of the entries I figured I'd do sooner or later, as well as post some of the links I've squirreled away here and there (primarily on, as of late).

In particular, look for some finance and economics posts, as I hopefully do some reading in those areas. Finally got that going yesterday, as I picked up a used copy of Heilbroner's Teachings from the Worldly Philosophy yesterday evening, and just now dropped by the public library to pick up another book by Heilbroner and Thurow, as well as a slim book by Chernow. Also, fortuitously ran into PK over at Berkeley yesterday afternoon, and he had a bunch more (and heavier) this. And also ordered the Bernstein boxed set this morning.

But for now, another music post--jazz this time. I was flipping through this week's SFWeekly over dinner, and came across this short column about a live recording of the electric Miles Davis quintet, called The Cellar Door Sessions 1970:
Most of us know Davis' fusion period from In a Silent Way or Bitches Brew, but this recording of four nights at a small D.C. club is a rawer experience: Funk, rock, Latin percussion, distorted trumpet, and extended, chaotic jams all plunge into the same volcano.
This reminded me of two things that came up recently. One, back in November we went to see a nice documentary at the Red Vic titled "Miles Electric - A different kind of Blue." Best part of it was seeing all the players interviewed and reminiscing. One of them was a revelation to me--cool sax man Gary Bartz, who's also on the The Cellar Door Sessions. The first I'd come across him was last year, after illegitimately downloading a collection of tracks compiled by 4 Hero. The burner among them was one called "Music is my sanctuary"...credited to Gary Bartz.

The other thing the Cellar Doors column reminded me of was the recent spate of live recorded jazz releases. There seemed to be a buzz in the jazz world with the release last year of two "new" sides: newly discovered recordings of Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall from 1957, and of Coltrane's quartet at the Half Note from 1965.

There were two essays about those recording that caught my eye: one by Kaplan in Slate (how does the man know jazz as well as politics??), and another by Ratliff in the Times:

OK, enough for tonight, gotta roll.

Monday, January 09, 2006

music stuff: soul xmas mixtape, soul sides best of 2005, kelefa sanneh

Got away from doing any posts the past week.  Here are a handful of music links.

Anj and I spent part of the Friday before we left for Christmas vacation downtown shopping for some Christmas music. I didn't realize what a large subindustry that is. We ended up with something unpromisingly titled "Smooth Grooves: Sensual Christmas", but you can see that the tracklisting looks promising, and some of them were good.

It was only after Christmas that I checked in Mark Anthony Neal's blog and discovered that he had put together his own Soul Christmas Mix-Tape.

And it was after that that I checked in on Soul Sides, and found that he'd posted the mp3s: soul sides: THE SOUL CHRISTMAS MIXTAPE (A M.A.N./S.S. COLLABORATION) Unfort I didn't d/l them (for next year!) before he took them down.

I did grab some of his selections of the best tracks of 2005;
soul sides: BEST SONGS OF 2005 (#1-5) and soul sides: BEST SONGS OF 2005 (#6-10). Some of those tracks are still up, but not for much longer, I imagine.

A few of those tracks I'd heard during the year, and it nice to see them recognized: one of Common's tracks, the K-otix track, that remix of "1 Thing" that he put at #1.  But he also highlighted some tracks that I wouldn't have heard or at least recognized otherwise, like the Three 6 Mafia track or the Young Jeezy...just goes to show why Soul Sides is a regular stop for me. 

Speaking of Young Jeezy, that reminds me of a fascinating article by Kelefa Sanneh that ran a few months ago in the NYT: "Cracking The Code In Hip-Hop" .

You know you're somewhat removed from the streets when you're getting schooled on the latest in hip-hop semiotics via the Arts section of the NYT. But Sanneh's doing a good job bringing hip hop and R&B into the Times--it's why I always look for his byline.

BTW, Young Jeezy came in #1 on Sanneh's year-end list.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Michael Lewis takes on football

I was going to write something up about the weekend--our return to the Bay; NYE @ our place, Il Pirata, the 22-Fillmore, and the lounge; the trip earlier this evening to the Metreon to see "Casanova" (very much worth seeing, I thought!) But it's getting late, so I'm going to put all that off until tomorrow.

For now, just wanted to post the link to a long piece by Michael Lewis that ran in the NYT Mag one month ago:
Coach Leach Goes Deep, Very Deep
By MICHAEL LEWIS (NYT) 8821 words
Published: December 4, 2005

This came up in conversation with Gary while we were sitting on the patio at the Metreon, overlooking Yerba Buena Gardens. (An aside: it always amuses me to note that Yerba Buena translates to Good Herb.)

Michael Lewis came up because we were talking about Long-Term Capital Management, and Gary recalled that Lewis had written something about it.
This page mentions the article that Gary must have been referring to:
A New York Sunday Times article says the big trouble for LTCM started on July 17 when Salomon Smith Barney announced it was liquidating its dollar interest arbitrage positions: "For the rest of the that month, the fund dropped about 10% because Salomon Brothers was selling all the things that Long-Term owned." [The article was written by Michael Lewis, former Salomon bond trader and author of Liar's Poker. Lewis visited his former colleagues at LTCM after the crisis and describes some of the trades on the firm's books]
I've had "Liar's Poker" on the to-read list for the last few months. I might pick up "Moneyball" at some point also.

But back to the topic at hand: football. The "Coach Leach" article linked-to above is fascinating, and reveals that Lewis's next book is going to be about football. Not sure where I read that--perhaps in that issue of the Mag itself--where Lewis makes the point that football is perhaps the most complex sport ever invented, but there's little in the way of writing examining the game--as compared with baseball, in particular.

I needed to post this tonight, b/c I just checked tomorrow morning's TV schedule on Tivo, and Texas Tech's bowl game starts at 8am (PT). So consider reading through Lewis's article while you're watching Leach's off-the-hook offense at work. I might re-read it while doing so.

Lewis is an incredible writer--he not only makes the topic (football, specifically offense) interesting, he makes his hero to be quite a character.

Here's one excerpt with Leach's background (this is all after he became, and then quit being, a lawyer:

The last 20 years have been an odd journey, with coaching jobs at College of the Desert, Cal Poly, Iowa Wesleyan, Valdosta State and a European league team in Pori, Finland. His first year coaching Division 1 college football was 1997, at the University of Kentucky. He arrived from Valdosta State with the head coach, Hal Mumme, and turned the Kentucky offense from joke into juggernaut. The year before he arrived, Kentucky's quarterback passed for 967 yards. In Leach's first year, his quarterback, Tim Couch, threw for 3,884 yards; the year after that, Couch, who lasted for only a few disappointing years in the N.F.L., threw for 4,275 yards. After Kentucky, Leach moved to Oklahoma for a single season, 1999. That year Oklahoma went from 101st to 8th in the country in offensive scoring. Its quarterback, Josh Heupel, passed for 3,850 yards that season, which was 1,700 more than any quarterback in Oklahoma football history had thrown for in a season. The next year, running Leach's offense, Oklahoma won the national championship -- but by then Texas Tech had picked up the pattern and hired Leach to run its team. ''Mike was different,'' says Patty Ross, who has long served as an assistant to Texas Tech head football coaches and who didn't know what to make of this new one. ''We had always had West Texas guys. We always ran the ball here. The first time Mike's offense came out on the field everyone is like, Whoa. He has that play he calls the Ninja -- when they all line up on one end. I'm not sure anyone had ever seen the Ninja. It was just a shock effect. Mike's personality was like that, too."

Another excerpt, where Lewis describes some of Leach's offensive formations; it contains Lewis's thesis that Leach is changing the "geometry" of the game:
The big gaps between the linemen made the quarterback seem more vulnerable -- some defenders could seemingly run right between the blockers -- but he wasn't. Stretching out the offensive line stretched out the defensive line too, forcing the most ferocious pass rushers several yards farther from the quarterback. It also opened up wide passing lanes through which even a short quarterback could see the whole field clearly. Leach spread out his receivers and backs too. The look was more flag than tackle football: a truly fantastic number of players racing around trying to catch passes on every play, and a quarterback surprisingly able to keep an eye on all of them. This offense was, in effect, an argument for changing the geometry of the game.

I just recalled that after I read the Leach/Texas Tech piece, I looked up a previous NYT Mag Lewis piece, on Eli Manning:
The New York Times > Magazine > The Eli Experiment

Published: December 19, 2004
You have to love that the 2nd section of the essay is titled "Plato's Cave." Here's why:
The people, and the cameras, will follow every move Eli Manning makes. They will come away feeling as if they have achieved a fairly exact accounting of what Eli Manning did as a quarterback. And that is an interesting thing: an exact accounting is exactly what is not possible.

The millions of people watching the game on television -- the beneficiaries of 13 camera angles and endless commentary from smart people, many of whom played the game -- in a way have it the worst. The man who oversees the cameras, Richie Zyontz of Fox Sports, explains that ''the guys who work the cameras are trying to make a nice picture. The risk is always that it's too tight.'' Focusing on what grips a television audience -- facial expressions, violence, emotion, pretty women -- the camera will miss the subtleties of the game: the missed blocks, the badly run pass routes.

The naked eye, no matter how well trained, isn't much better. From the chaos on the field it isn't always obvious, even to official scorekeepers, who did what. The Indianapolis Star recently published an article showing that the statistics compiled by the Colts coaching staff -- from the tapes of the games -- were alarmingly different from the official records kept during the season. The scorekeepers, for instance, credited the Colts linebacker Cato June with 59 solo tackles and 15 assists; from tapes the Colts coaches know that Cato June had 49 solo tackles and 40 assists. If the human eye can miss something as central to the action as a tackle, how can it be expected to comprehend the dozens of things that occur away from the ball? Statistics -- the answer in other sports -- don't help all that much. Football statistics do not capture the performance of individual football players as cleanly as, say, baseball statistics capture the performance of individual baseball players. No player ever does anything on a football field that isn't dependent on some other player. The individual achievements of football players are often, in effect, hidden in plain sight.

But here's the other interesting thing: this hidden game can be seen, though not by the average viewer. Shot unceremoniously from two pillboxes on the stadium's upper rim, the videotape made by the Giants coaching staff frames all 22 players on the field. The view the coaches want is the view from the cheapest seat in the house. ''When former coaches get into the broadcast booth, that's the first thing they want to see, the all-22, the eye in the sky,'' Zyontz says. The coaches want to see that shot because they know it is the only shot that will enable them to figure out who did what -- and assign credit and blame -- on any given football play.

''After a game,'' Coughlin says, ''you obviously know what happened. But a lot of times you don't know why it happened.'' If even the coach, who, during a game, is privy to overhead still photos of the action and countless conversations with players, doesn't understand who did what, what hope is there for a mere spectator? In some strange way, until you see the tape, you haven't seen the game.

Giants Stadium, on this afternoon of Eli Manning's debut, is Plato's Cave. The millions of people watching the game are inside the cave, staring at shadows on the wall. The shadows are distortions of the reality outside the cave, treated, erroneously, as the thing itself. No matter how he plays, some part of Eli Manning's game, like his personality, will remain hidden from public understanding. It may be a trivial part; it may be the telling part -- the point is that no one can know for sure if the Giants have given their money to the right guy.