Monday, February 18

For All The Stolen Bikes I've Known Redux

One of my all time favorite pieces of writing is Tim's blog post For All The Stolen Bikes I've Known (click the link and scroll down to the third post). Why do I remember this now? My bike was stolen last night. Unfortunately, my tale lacks a heroic ending.

I was woken at 5:45am by a friend who had noticed that my garage door was wide open when he drove past on his way to an early flight. My surfboards were still in there so Malcolm may have saved them from an opportunistic early morning thief.

I initially thought that my neighbor (we share a two-car garage) had carelessly left the door open but it turns out she was out of town for the weekend. I hadn't been in the garage for a while and had walked past it a number of times since then so we are certain that they broke in somehow. The lock seems fine so we think they mimicked the signal from the electronic door opener. I lost my 3 month old bike and my neighbor lost 4 boxes of old and valuable comics. Life in the big city. Think I might buy me some renter's insurance (closing the garage door after the bike has bolted, so to speak).

I'm not too heartbroken. The bike was new but it wasn't super expensive and I didn't like it all that much. It had an aluminum frame (these are light but don't absorb shocks well) so I sometimes felt like I was riding a jackhammer as I cruised along San Francisco's potholed streets. I'll see if I can replace it with a mountain bike with front suspension at least.

Tuesday, February 12

Prediction Markets

As the New York Times noted recently, prediction markets tend to be better predictors than polls. Before Super Tuesday I predicted a McCain-Clinton race with McCain winning. Right now, the biggest prediction market - Intrade - has Obama at over 70% to win the democratic nomination. It also has him as a much better chance (48.8%) than McCain (32.6%) to win the presidency even though McCain has his nomination wrapped up. This strikes me as absurd.

Although Obama has done better than I expected, I still think Intrade is overestimating his chances and is massively underestimating McCain's chances. A savvy punter might put money on McCain to win in November, hedged with a bet on Clinton to win the Democratic nomination. You'd collect handily if either prediction turned out correct and very handily if both turned out correct. The only way to lose would be if Obama wins in November (which I'd prefer to losing a bit money anyway): truly a no-lose investment.

Also, I'd be amazed if McCain's current value (32.6%) doesn't go up once it's a two-horse race (It'll shoot up to about 50 if Hillary wins and go up to the low to mid 40s if Obama wins). So you could just buy McCain with the plan to hold and sell two months from now when I'm guessing it'll be trading at least in the low 40s.

(I should note that prediction markets are considered gambling and are illegal in most states so I'm not suggesting that anyone actually take this advice . . . )

UPDATE - shortly after I posted this the NYT posted a similar article.

Monday, February 4

A Sign

I can't vote but my window (which overlooks a busy Muni stop) can.
I'm not holding out much hope. It'll be Clinton v. McCain with McCain winning in November. You heard it here first (and I'm warning you I'm never wrong in election predictions).