September 12, 2007

Roll the Blogs

AFTER CONSIDERABLE THOUGHT, I’ve made some changes to my “blogroll” – that is, the links of Rant Approved Blogs that appear in the left-hand column of this page. In part, this was a housekeeping measure, as I’ve removed several blogs that have gone dormant, although hopefully for only a short period of time. But the new listing also reflects a shift in my own personal interests.

As a result, I’ve grouped the list a bit differently than I have in the past. Previously, the blogs were largely sorted based on their geography; however, I’ve changed things so they appear by subject. Three of the groupings deal with matters near and dear to my heart: collegiate and professional football, the way it was meant to be played; the stock markets and other high-finance related matters; and personal financial issues. There are special groupings for what timewise are arguably my secondary interests at this point – namely, blogs devoted to the arts, culture and literature; and the exploits of the Boston Red Sox, whom I like but have subordinated to the pleasures of football.

Also, I’ve put people I know personally in their own separate listing, as well as the blogs I read for their insights on the subjects of the day. Finally, there are separate listings for Canadian bloggers and bloggers based abroad. While I must admit my interest in politics has considerably cooled over the past few years, it is still important to keep up with these things, particularly because developments here and abroad tend to have implications – and generally, not good implications – for my bottom line.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say I think my readers will appreciate the changes. After all, you’re reading because you have the same interests that I do. Thus, it makes sense you’ll like these blogs. Lastly, I would note two things. First, if your blog was previously here and it now isn’t, it’s probably because it went silent a while back. I’m still checking in, though, and if you start blogging again I’ll re-add it. Second, if you know of any good blogs I should add, let me know – my e-mail is to the left – and I’ll check them out. (And if anyone knows how to fix my comments section, please, for the love of God, e-mail me).

Anyway, here’s a look at the blogs added to my blogroll, viz. and to wit:

FOOTBALL

We’ll start out with blogs devoted to the University of Michigan’s football program, which is near and dear to my heart, yet causes me so much pain. I’ve added a couple of good ones here, namely: M Go Blog and Maize ‘n Brew. M Go Blog is “horribly, admirably partisan” and as such I like it. It has insightful commentary and analysis, and has an impressive comments section. (The Oregon open thread post had like 1,300 comments on it, which is more than I’ve ever had since I've been blogging, even when the comments were working). Maize ‘n Brew also has lots of good analysis and commentary, and like many of the football blogs added is part of the Sports Blog Nation network. Both sites are fiercely passionate and I like that.

But of course, football is not just a game for college students. So I’ve also added several blogs devoted to the greatest football team of all time, the glorious and storied Pittsburgh Steelers. As the Steelers are pretty much my only hope for salvaging this football season, which has started out so horrendously college-wise, I’m going to keep a close eye on these blogs.

First up is Behind the Steel Curtain, an enjoyable blog devoted to the Steelers with plenty of analysis and commentary. I’ve also added Die Hard Steel, a good Steelers blog, and the NFL Fanhouse’s Pittsburgh Steelers blog, which keeps a close eye on the team. Also, I’ve added two other blogs – the Cincy Jungle blog and Dawgs by Nature – which look at the craptacular play of the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns. The Bungles and the Clowns, the Steelers’ generally hapless division rivals in the AFC North, are worth keeping an eye on given the possibility, however remote, they could defeat the Steelers.

Also added are sites for the NFL, the CFL, the Arena Football League, the af2 minor-league arena football league, the All-American Football League now in development, and the semi-pro British American Football League. (My team in the BAFL was formerly the Personal Assurance Knights, just because they were named after an insurance company. But now that they changed their name, I have to find a new team, because I haven’t any idea where “Farnham” is).

HIGH FINANCE

We’ll start out with Between the Hedges, a portfolio manager’s commentary on the financial markets. While I myself do not trade regularly – when I buy stocks, I prefer to sit on them until the end of time – this site is worth visiting for the data and updates alone, and the author does a really good job keeping on top of news coming out of the markets. Another good site, focused on economic data and analysis, is Econbrowser, which – as one might expect – two university economists run.

I’ve also added Seeking Alpha, which a market analyst founded some years back and serves as a great aggregator for news and commentary about the markets. There’s good stuff here if you look. I especially like the focus on global markets.

On a related note, I’ve added Controlled Greed to the mix, which looks at the business of investing in undervalued stocks, thus proving that while greed is good, controlled greed is even better. I’ve also added Andrew Tobias, he of “The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need” fame. And generally speaking, I don’t think that title is all that wrong. Mr Tobias spends much of his time posting about politics, which doesn’t really interest me, and various stock picks, which also doesn’t interest me, as I keep my own counsel on these types of things. But there’s still some good finance stuff there.

PERSONAL FINANCE

At the top of the list here is Boston Gal’s Open Wallet. Our Boston Gal is a thirty-something professional who has amassed roughly half a million and has a Magic Number roughly six times that amount. She seems well on her way to hitting that eventually too, so consider me impressed. This is a daily read of mine, not only because she covers all manner of personal finance topics, but also has interesting tidbits on sales and other ways to save more or spend less.

As an aside, it shouldn’t surprise folks that the best personal-finance blogs out there are written by women. My gut feeling is that it’s due to the different ways men and women typically approach money, as these following examples show:

WOMAN: There is no way I’m investing in nobusinessplan.com.
MAN: Ooooooh! Nobusinessplan.com’s having an IPO! Get me in for 500 shares! Yes! It’s going up! BOOYAH! No, wait, it’s going down! NO! Dammit! Hello? Lenny? Sell all my NBP and short it! What’s that? Yes, of course on margin! You think I’m getting out of my long position on pork bellies now? You kidding?

WOMAN: I’ve got some extra money, so I’ll put it towards a certificate of deposit.
MAN: A CD? Are you kidding me? I’ve got my money on a sure thing – COME ON you stupid horse! Go! Go! Go! Come ON – no! NO NO NO! You did not just break in the stretch! You stupid horse! I hope you get sent to a glue factory! Oh, it’s all rigged anyway!

Simply put, men are more prone to taking risks, which can work out great but often burns us in the end. Women, on the other hand, are generally more cautious. This can mean lower returns (sometimes, too low returns) but a correspondingly lower risk of having one’s capital blown out. The trick, of course, is to get the risk-return equation that suits you – one with healthy “upside potential” while still ensuring your capital won’t get eaten. Making up for capital losses is hard to do.

I also like Everybody Loves Your Money, another personal-finance blog that makes the astute observation that, well, everybody loves your money and its correlary that no one should love your money more than you. I also like Free Money Finance, which is a smartly-written blog, and My Money Thinks.

Lastly, another personal-finance blog I like is Hustle and Cash Flow (the name alone is priceless). The blogger behind it provides “regularly scheduled sporadic posting on various matters of economics, personal finance, and how it all relates to my job.” As it happens, our blogger’s job is as an exotic dancer.

Ah! Now you’re really interested, aren’t you? Well, readers expecting salacious pictures shall be disappointed, but the commentary doesn’t disappoint. She writes well about personal finance, economics and, sometimes, her line of work, and it’s all quite interesting.

So there you have it. Enjoy!

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at September 12, 2007 12:01 AM | TrackBack
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