Monthly Archives: July 2009


Clever McDonalds Marketing 2

I found this fascinating the other day. I got something in the mail which I ended up showing my my cousin over at Chill Yo Islam Yo. He wrote up a good piece on it and I’ll quote a little below with the picture of the mailing:

When I met Shaykh Hamza Yusuf at the ISNA convention this year, I told him maybe if McDonald’s and Burger King started serving Halal across the states, more Muslims would start eating it, more halal means less haraam. He said “it’s good it’s not halal, it’s bad for your health anyways, you shouldn’t be eating it regardless”. Ha-ha.chillyoislamyo.com, Chill Yo Islam Yo, Jul 2009

You should read the whole article.

“Taste zyada, price kum” means ” More tasteful, less pricey”


Stevens Launches Quantitative Finance Program 7

A bitter sweet announcement by Stevens regarding the first ever undergraduate program for Quantitative Finance in the country. My only disappoint is that it wasn’t done four years ago when I first came in to Stevens. I already know of one person who is interested and I am certain it is going to generate more interest as the years go by. Kudos to Stevens on this one.

Program in fast-growing, multi-disciplinary field to begin in fall semester 2009

By John Holl
Special to the Stevens News Service

Beginning in September 2009, Stevens Institute of Technology will launch the first undergraduate program in Quantitative Finance in the country.

This fast-growing, multi-disciplinary field is based on applying modern science, mathematical and engineering methods, and advanced technology to model and execute decisions in the financial domain. Quantitative Finance applications extend from classical investment portfolio management and the design of sophisticated hedging strategies to mitigate business risks.

“Quantitative Finance is becoming essential in the business world,” said George M. Calhoun, Executive-in-Residence at Stevens. “It is not simply enough to stand on the trading floor. The next generation of finance experts will come up with ways to out think the market.”

Quantitative finance – typically used with hedge funds – is more than just analyzing stock portfolios. It is at the heart of all modern financial strategies and operations, from managing pension funds and insurance companies to controlling operations operational risks at manufacturing companies and modeling the behavior of financial markets.

Offered through Stevens’ Howe School of Technology Management, the four-year Bachelor of Science undergraduate program will have a heavy emphasis on math and statistics, but will also teach student to get the understanding of the underlying economic substance of financial decision making, said Calhoun.

When it starts at the beginning of the 2009/2010 academic year, the program will have 20 students, but Calhoun believes there is room for as many as 80 students in years to come. Potential students or those who would like to learn more about the program are invited to visit www.qf-stevens.com

Each student accepted to the program will launch an investment program at the start of the sophomore year. Using a web-based investment platform, the student will start with $1 million in virtual cash, to be invested according to a graded series of financial criteria as the semesters progress. Over the subsequent semesters students will have a chance to focus on everything from common stock in US-listed companies to commodities and exchange-traded options. By their senior year, students will be ready to focus on a project involving real-world implementation challenges – for example, the design and management of a Hedge Fund, or the construction of an Electronic Trading Platform.

“This is a program where being smart gives you an advantage. This is where the employment growth is going to be.”

Stevens’ campus along the Hudson River is uniquely suited to host such a focused undergraduate major, given its proximity to New York City and Wall Street – the financial capital of the world. Students will have unparalleled opportunities to have direct contact with the world’s elite finance firms, bankers, traders, regulators and policymakers.

Members of the Stevens faculty have worked diligently to design the program. They received input from both financial and non-financial firms. As such, the graduates of the program will be part of a broad trend towards a more rigorous management of the world’s financial assets and risks.

“Risk is going to be the name of the game for the next 20 years,” said Calhoun, “and Quantitative Finance will be key.”

Given the recent problems in the global economy, Calhoun and Stevens believe there is no more appropriate a time to launch such a program, continuing a tradition of forward-looking education that fills a major industry need.

“Quantitative Finance is here to stay,” said Calhoun. “In fact, we believe it will become the benchmark for a modern financial education.”

Source: Stevens to launch first undergraduate Quantitative Finance program in the country


The Mess That Is Hoboken 3

This has been quite a mess in Hoboken of a first month by Mayor Peter Cammarano where 33% of our last 3 mayors have NOT been arrested by the FBI – a pretty fascinating statistic courtesy of http://www.hoboken.org/ and probably a telling sign of the state of the cities in New Jersey.

Take a look at the portion of an e-mail that I have quoted below which shows Hoboken Revolt vehemently trying to educate their followers about laws in place regarding situations like this in Hoboken and in New Jersey:

If he (Cammarano) doesn’t resign and he has to take a leave of absence to attend to a personal matter, he can appoint an interim Mayor. That interim can be any one of his Directors or the Council President. At the moment, he has two approved Directors – John Pope and James Farina. Under the Faulkner Act, he has the right to appoint his Directors on a temporary 30 day basis that he can renew ever 30 days. Getting approval from the Council on his Director choices is really just ceremony.

Therefore, he can appoint Terry LaBruno, Angel Alicea, Todd Poole, etc. today if he wanted to so that he can appoint one of them Mayor should he decide to take a leave of absence. We would not be able to recall a newly appointed Mayor for the first year of his/her term as Mayor.

I wasn’t too familiar with The Faulkner Act and even when I tried to look it up a couple of places it seemed a little vague. So I went to the one person I knew would be able to tell me about it — Professor Wharton at Stevens. If there is something you want to know on politics, he’s your guy at Stevens. He even wrote a chapter once upon a time regarding the Washington Nationals and the role politics has played and plagued with that franchise.

He replied in an e-mail to me saying that the Act was originally enacted decades ago (in 1950) to allow for more flexibility for the public to participate in open elections and establish effective local governance (at least ideally) of former or at least notoriously corrupt or problematic local NJ municipalities, including just about every city in Hudson County.

He went on to say that the mayor can and probably will stay in office right now because technically and legally he’s not guilty – yet.

As far as appointing the director mayor, he went on to say that it is rare but can happen when a mayor is away from office:

… that’s rare but can happen when the mayor is away at times for a day or a week at a time; it’s more symbolic than substance (the same thing takes place when the Gov leaves for a day or two and an official, like the Senate president takes over or now that we’ll have a Lt Gov after January). Also, keep in mind Hoboken is still under the auspices of Judy Trapodi – the state appointed monitor for finances so home rule remain a concern as to who can “adjust” or change things. In reality, the mayor has little control on everything, without Trapodi’s input and the city council’s.

I can’t wait to get back on campus in Hoboken in less than a month and take another Wharton class. In the meantime, e-mails will do and hopefully this shed some light on the ever evolving mess that is the Mayor’s office in Hoboken.


Disney: Where Anyone Can Be A Kid Again 4

I finally made my first trip down to Orlando to see Universal Studios and a couple of the Disney Parks and my initial and last reaction was: anyone who wants to be a kid again, certainly can be at these parks.

That statement is probably more true for Disney then for Universal simply because Universal seems to be geared more towards roller coaster rides and less towards the characters and cartoons we grew up around in our very young ages.

It is probably no coincidence that more parents and the older folks tend to enjoy Disney parks like Magic Kingdom and Epcot more because they often see characters walking about and around the park that they, themselves, knew when they were young. I can’t remember the last time my parents went out to an amusement park or any park in general with such attractions and really had a great time. From the 4D shows of Mickey and his orchestra to Mission: Space to Universe of Energy with Ellen Degeneres and Bill Nye the Science Guy.

For me, those were the two parks I visited (Epcot and Magic Kingdom) and as much as I loved the attractions such as Mission: Space and Soarin’, I was a bigger fan of getting my picture taken with the characters I grew up watching on television. A couple of characters that I wanted to run into while I was at the parks were Stitch, Donald Duck, Goofy and Buzz Lightyear. I was lucky enough to get three out of the four and I was quite disappointed not seeing any Toy Story characters or attraction but I will not complain too much. As you can clearly tell from the pictures I have attached at the bottom of the post, I don’t seem very disappointed in not running into Buzz, Woody and the gang.

Let’s just quickly run through the characters:

1- Stitch was an instant hit for me the moment Lilo and Stitch the movie was released. His unpredictable antics and always causing trouble for Lilo was amusing as a child yet very intriguing to view things from his perspective. His alien-esque finger waving was something I emulated with him when I went up for a picture — something that wasn’t caught on camera unfortunately– but even with my older cousins this character was on top of their list.

2- Goofy. I have been told (on more than one occasion) that I am not the most serious person and often very silly or… goofy. It’s probably something I take pride in, always looking to lighten the mood regardless of the situation. You just can’t spend every day trying to be being serious and having every minute of your day all planned out– let things come to you and if Goofy wants to point at your shirt of him, you point right back and have a picture taken. I have no shame in being a kid again and taking pictures with Mickey, Minnie, Pluto in addition to Goofy and Donald.

3- Donald Duck. You can’t be an Angry Brown Guy and not have your picture taken with an angry duck. It seemed like in every cartoon that his nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie were always finding ways to aggravate him more and it is probably safe to say Donald had a very short temper. Watching his lose his cool and his blue hat fly off his head is an iconic image of Mr. Duck and I have always been a fan.

I am sure that it was disappointing for me and everyone else in our group that we did not run into any Toy Story characters especially with the new movie set to be released next year but what can you do? I had a great time at these parks being a kid and enjoying the attractions designed for maybe a younger audience. At times it seemed like we were waiting in line with kids that seemed to be half my age and other times with people twice as old.

It really goes to show that at Disney, any body and every body can be a kid again.


Fair Game For Home Fans To Discuss D-III Teams?

As many of you are aware, I am part of the web-casting crew for Stevens Athletics on Empire8.tv. As a broadcaster, I have always felt that I can be as critical as appropriately necessary of a team (Stevens or otherwise) irrespective of the fact that I am hired by the Stevens Athletics Department. I think it is fair to say that my bosses have been more than fair regarding broadcasting practices that we do our best to provide as unbiased of a portrayal of a game as humanly possible. I think that accepting constructive criticisms is a part of growing up that allows programs to develop more thoroughly than just positive reinforcements of things they are doing correctly.

However, I have been thinking recently in conjunction with a friend of mine to start a discussion blog solely dedicated to talking about a given sport like soccer for which I am a big fan of and something that definitely has the most intense fan base on campus. This is a team that is less than 8 months removed from going to the National Championship game and has just released a very ambitious schedule of the 2009 regular season.

The moment the idea came to fruition, I had a feeling there might be some conflicting but legitimate issues that might arise. I don’t think any of the following issues are deal breakers in me trying to accomplish what I want to in the short run but could be more problematic in sustaining long term. I think the only reason this issue arises is because D-III is not nationally known as much as the D-I programs, so anything available is generally more than what’s out there for an average team.

In this age of technology, the first arising problem is how much information is too much information? You can be rest assured that all of these coaches, even at the Division III level, do their homework regarding scouting opposition teams, their players and tactics. As much as I would like to think my analysis of a given situation is accurate, I don’t think any coach or opposition is going to relying on the latest posts by a couple of college students and adjust their game plans accordingly.

There is no argument that such a forum gives perspective from the home side and probably something you generally don’t see highlighted very often but is discussing such a matter detrimental in any way to the progress and success of the team you root for? Is it that horrible of a thing to point out recent struggles in a rather specific manner or talking about formations or plays that have been more successful?

I really don’t expect this to be much of an issue but there was a minor incident at another school discussing in an open forum regarding upcoming schedules and issues with the team over the course of the season. The issue seems to be whether or not certain information should be copied over from a blog and posted on to a more popular source where the likelihood of it being read by an opposition greatly increases. I am going to stand by my stance that once it’s posted for the public to see, the original author has no claim or right towards where it gets published as long as it done so with proper accreditation.

Anyways, let me be clear that I feel fans as well as anyone else should be able to discuss what they want about any team they want. That also includes you readers who should feel free to let me know what you think of discussing especially about school sports programs and whether you think it hurts teams or not hearing from people closer to the program than maybe the average fan.

Also, stay tuned for an announcement regarding the start of the discussion blog regarding a Stevens sport coming towards you in approximately couple of weeks.