February 10, 2008

Post-Vacation, I'm Tanned, Rested, and Ready

Oh No!
It's Time for Yet Another Installment of ...

An occasional Rant feature

BEHOLD! I HAVE RETURNED from my vacation in the West, and it was good. I'm tanned, rested and ready to get back to work. Cleverly, though, I have arranged things so I don't have to return to my day job until Tuesday. Thus, I'll be taking things easy over the next few days -- and doing some blogging as well.

As it's been a while since I've done some blogging, and it has been a while since I've done an installment of Your Search Engine Queries Answered!, I figured this would be a perfect time to look over the innumerable search-engine queries received here at The Rant. Hoo boy. They don't disappoint, either. Although I can say with authority that 2008 is thus far going gangbusters for me personally, the quality of and brainpower behind the queries I've received hasn't improved. But don't just take my word for it ...

QUERY: europe is know as old continent small continent or white continent?

ANSWER: Europe is known as the Slow-Growth Wealth-Eating Continent.

QUERY: the benjamin 1000 us dollar

ANSWER: The Benjamin is actually slang for a $100 bill. There are no $1,000 bills anymore, which is a shame and a travesty. For this, we can blame President Nixon. Nixon's move withdrawing large banknotes from circulation, although supposedly done to fight organized crime, was the type of move we would expect from President Wage and Price Controls. Now that inflation has eaten away the value of the dollar, we should reinstate large bills -- at the very least, $200 and $500 notes. After all, if even the Europeans have 200 and 500 euro notes, large bills can't be that bad.

QUERY: is there a colored $2 bill?

ANSWER: Yes. It's green.

QUERY: how much is $202.80 in indian rupees

ANSWER: It's about 8,000 rupees -- to be exact, 8,023 rupees and 42 paise. That's actually something of a tidy sum in India, where 54 pc of the population lives in households earning under 90,000 INR per annum, and 77 pc of Indians live on less than 20 INR per day.

QUERY: how to get rid of canadian coins

ANSWER: Beats the hell out of me. This is one of my pet peeves with the modern American banking system, which is stupidly greedy when it comes to dealing with Canadian coins.

It was not always this way. For instance, when I was a boy growing up in Michigan, Canadian coins would frequently leach into the local financial system. However, the banks there would gladly accept small amounts of the coinage at parity with the greenback as a courtesy to their customers, even though it meant a tiny loss in doing so.

Today, however, trying to deposit small amounts of Canadian coinage in a bank is a process akin to having a root canal. For instance, before I went on vacation, I cashed in the value of my NFL coin bank at my local credit union. After doing so, I had 26 Canadian cents left over that the coin machine rejected. The cashier promptly informed me she could do nothing -- nothing! -- with the coins, even though the Canadian dollar is practically equal in value to the US dollar. The coins are now back in my NFL coin bank and I haven't any idea how to get rid of them, other than go to Montreal.

QUERY: bad side of poverty

ANSWER: There's a good side?

QUERY: risk involved when financed by rich relative

ANSWER: Oh boy -- the dreaded intra-family speculative business relationship. This has plenty of risk for the borrower and the lender. The greatest risk here is that it will sunder the familial bond between the borrower and the lender, which is a heck of a risk to take for what is probably an ill-advised business venture.

For the lender, the smart move would be to consider the loan a gift, if you're willing to make it. That's because most business ventures fail. Furthermore, if a relative comes hat in hand to you, it suggests that he can't raise capital through traditional means, thus adding to the risk accordingly. So if you're going to loan five or ten grand so your brother-in-law can raise alpacas or something, you may as well write it off in your mind.

However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't get a return on your investment (or, more likely, of it). If your brother-in-law sets up a corporation, perhaps you could figure out a way to buy convertible preferred shares in it for your money, thus enabling you to reap dividends in the short-term and, if all goes well, equity in the long-term.

As for the borrower -- well, you had best do everything you can to pay back your lender, because otherwise it could make family gatherings a bit strained. After all, the last thing you need is to show up at Thanksgiving and have to make small talk with the guy whose ten thousand bucks you lost.

QUERY: the profit motive of capitalism market is proof of the foolishness of the system. the society cannot flourish when individuals are constantly trying to squeeze profits from the production process

ANSWER: Idiot! The profit motive is why capitalism succeeds and socialism fails. If no one has any interest in how well the production process performs, the efficacy of the process is eroded because -- to be perfectly blunt -- nobody gives a shit. On the other hand, if people profit personally from success, then they have a vested interest in seeing things go well.

As for societies flourishing, I recall one researcher -- whose name escapes me at the moment -- who found that Soviet-style socialism destroys roughly seventh-eighths of a nation's potential economic output.

QUERY: foreign currency cds

ANSWER: Oh Christ, not this idea again. I wrote about these here, and why they're not a good idea for most people. The two major points are these: the increased interest you receive isn't an adequate reward for the risk you take in investing in the foreign currency, and there are better options out there if you're looking for a dollar hedge.

QUERY: how high is etfc going to go

ANSWER: Oh, well, let me go check my crystal ball for you. Hmmmm ... it says, "Concentrate and ask again." Gee, I guess the fates aren't interested in answering your query.

QUERY: there was a big party at morgan stanley after the mexican peso devaluation people from all over wall street came they drank champagne and smoked cigars and congratulated themselves on how they pulled it off and they made a fortune.

ANSWER: Wow -- Wall Street folks making a fortune. Those were the good old days!

QUERY: currency speculation on your pc

ANSWER: Bad idea! Bad! Bad! Bad!

QUERY: what exactly did jerome kerviel do wrong?

ANSWER: Why, he lost, of course. You don't think he would be in the clutches of France's financial police if he had made money, now do you?

QUERY: traders are mostly shocked at socgen trader kerviel s apparent lack of profit motive.

ANSWER: Yes, of course they are. After all, profit is good, and personal profit is even better.

QUERY: what was the name of luca pacioli's first book which described the double-entry accounting system?

ANSWER: Summa de arithmetica, geometria, proportioni et proportionalita.

QUERY: i won a car how much income tax do i owe

ANSWER: You must count the value of the car as income, and pay tax accordingly, at a rate between 0 and 35 percent, accordingly.

QUERY: why is it when one christmas light goes out they all go out

ANSWER: Christmas light thetans! Hey, it's as good a reason as any.

QUERY: flourless pasta flourless pasta flourless pasta

ANSWER: Was it necessary to repeat your query thrice? No. It wasn't. So no gluten-free flourless pasta for you.

QUERY: captain planet the planeteers rap lyrics

ANSWER: I just threw up a little in my mouth.

QUERY: the psychology behind people who live in a fantasy world

ANSWER: How should I know anything about that? Do I look like I know any St. Louis Rams fans?

QUERY: the famed football phrase frozen tundra described what cold hard gridiron

ANSWER: Ford Field.

QUERY: peyton manning insulting commercials

ANSWER: We've all come to expect a bit of snide-ness from America's most hated quarterback. Wasn't it great during the Super Bowl, when we only had to watch like one commercial with Quarterback Sign My Melon in it?

QUERY: detroit lions funny

ANSWER: Well, yeah, I suppose so, in that "Three Stooges" sort of way, although I think "sad" and "pathetic" are more apt descriptions.

QUERY: steelers stealing signals

ANSWER: The Pittsburgh Steelers would never steal an opposing team's signals, because the Pittsburgh Steelers do not need to do this. For one thing, they're perfectly capable of snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory on their own. For another, Mr Rooney wouldn't like it.

QUERY: how to say nothing in 500 words

ANSWER: I don't know. Go talk to Maureen Dowd.

QUERY: punitive and liability damage for dog bite of scrotum?

ANSWER: Jesus God in Heaven! God! God! God! Don't say things like that! I'm going to have nightmares for weeks! And I may just sue you for bringing it up and traumatizing me!

Anyway, the answer to your question is ten million dollars. Clearly. God!

QUERY: who is going to hell

ANSWER: That's a bit above my pay grade.

QUERY: valentines day sayings for university of michigan fan

ANSWER: How about, "I've got something for you that will take your mind off the basketball team."

QUERY: pathetic valentine

ANSWER: Two words -- supermarket flowers.

QUERY: sweet love word to male lover

ANSWER: "Yes."

QUERY: do men want well-educated professional women

ANSWER: I want a girl with a mind like a diamond
I want a girl who knows what's best
I want a girl with shoes that cut
and eyes that burn like cigarettes

I want a girl with the right allocations --
who's fast, and thorough, and sharp as a tack --
she's playing with her jewelry, and putting up her hair
she's touring the facility, and picking up slack --

I want a girl with a short skirt and looooooong -- jacket!

Oh, and smooth liquidation, and good dividends. Come on, now -- I need backup. Na na na na na na, na na na na na na --

QUERY: where can i find a raison d etre purse

ANSWER: I don't know, but I like the marketing.

QUERY: diamond in ring from costco broken

ANSWER: How the hell does a diamond break? It's a diamond. It's the hardest substance on earth. Not only that, it is one of the toughest naturally occuring substances, meaning you'd probably have to drop a refrigerator on the stupid thing for it to actually damage it.

Maybe this wasn't a diamond after all. Maybe it was cubic zirconia. Also, dare I ask, why buy a diamond from Costco? Sure, the price, but I remain to be convinced that a superstore known for selling giant packages of household supplies would be the best place to buy a diamond.

QUERY: is five thousand dollars enough for an engagement ring

ANSWER: I would think you could get a decent diamond ring for five thousand, if you were clever in how you bought the diamond. As I understand it these days, a one-carat stone is enough.

QUERY: why is there no tab energy drink in the stores

ANSWER: The Coca-Cola Co. is being merciful, I guess.

QUERY: dangers of tab energy drink

ANSWER: Drinking Tab energy drink can make you look adolescent, or in some cases, foppish.

QUERY: markup on coffee

ANSWER: Astounding. Coffee futures are going for about $1.43 a pound right now. A cup of coffee at some fancy cafe is what -- $3 or so? According to these guys, one pound of coffee beans will make roughly 10 pots of coffee, or 3.2 gallons, which works out to like 25 16 oz. cups of the stuff. That works out to $75 based at $3 a cup. Given that good Kona coffee beans can be had for $25 per pound, you're paying a 200 pc markup to buy coffee from some snot-nosed punk rocker. That, of course, is a generous assessment, considering that most coffee is cheaper. If you figure you can buy regular coffee beans for $10 a pound or so, that works out to a 550 pc markup.

Anyway, that's it for this edition of Your Search Engine Queries Answered! Tune in next time when we discuss important topics such as ... well, smooth liquidation and good dividends. Yeah. Na na na na na na, na na na na na na ...

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at February 10, 2008 12:01 AM | TrackBack

To: Mr. Kepple
From: Your Lawyers
Re: Dog Bites to the Scrotum

Dear Mr. Kepple,

I am writing to advise you on your potential tort claims of Negligent/Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress against the BenKepple.com visitor who got there by typing "dog bite scrotum" into a search engine.

It is unlikely that you could prove the emotional distress was intentional, considering said searcher likely had no idea that you would be reading the logs of the visitors' search requests that brought them to your site. Negligence is a closer call, in that you could argue the visitor SHOULD have known that you would read the logs and thereby become faint and nauseated and have nightmares for weeks.

However, this all does not change the fact that in order to win damages for an emotional distress claim, one must generally be within the "Zone of Danger" of the accident, whose viewing must then cause physical effects of emotional distress. For example, were you to actually have BEEN in the backyard of Johnny Pitbull Owner when Johnny siced his Pitbull on his neighbor's genitals, and were you to then have experienced nausea and/or tremors because of that viewing, then you would arguably have a claim against JOHNNY for negligent infliction of emotional distress. However, you were not in the backyard at the time.

In any case, I can envision no scenario in which you would be successful in your claim against a BenKepple.com visitor for typing a disturbing phrase into a search engine. Further, as a policy matter, I would recommend against suing or threatening to sue your site visitors. It's bad for business.

That'll be $500.

Very truly yours,
Matthew S. S_______, Esq.

Posted by: Matt at February 10, 2008 04:19 PM
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