Ko insanity

So, Pudge has been trying to get reservations at a restaurant called Momofuku Ko for a really long time. From what I can tell, Ko is a fine place for food, charging somewhere around $100 a head for a fixed menu. However, it has catapulted itself into the position of being perhaps the most difficult restaurant to eat at in NYC for two simple reasons:

1. There are a limited number of seats and seatings per night
2. All reservations are done on-line, with absolutely no preferential treatment at all.

In order to prevent scalping, the restaurant forces you to enter your credit card information and verifies that you are exactly who you say you are when you get to the restaurant. So, essentially what you have here is a reservation system that is extremely accessible, paired with a lack of supply.

Now, a lot of people have been wondering what would happen if you were to convert the reservation system into an auction system. Here's what happened at a recent auction, where a seat at Ko was offered up for charity:

It started quietly: at the end of the first day, the top bid was $175. Day two saw the price rise to $245, where it stayed for four more days. On day six it went up to $275, and then on day ten it hit $315: still less than the retail price for the dinner alone. On day 13, when the auction was blogged by Eater, the bidding went a little crazy, ending at $700. A bidder named "kyanza" dropped out at $650, but reappeared on day 14 and started bidding the price up again: by the end of day 14 kyanza had the high bid of $1,250 - which would value the reservation at $865.

But the auction still had three more days to go. On day 15, kyanza was still the high bidder, at $1,501. On day 16, "srittvo" came in with a bid $20 higher, but everybody knew that there would be more activity on day 17, the final day.

The auction was due to close at 4pm, but there was a twist: it was extended by five minutes every time somebody made a new high bid. Thus were there no fewer than 24 bids between 3:55pm and 4:12pm. At 3:50pm, the high bid, from kyanza, was $1,870. By the time the auction ended, kynza was still the winner, but the final price was exactly a thousand dollars higher: $2,870. Which would put the value of the reservation at about $2,500.

That's an expensive table.

Hat tip to Felix Salmon.

Cool link from Pudge, who has started blogging again:

Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo. Guy's sure done a lot of travel.

Er, what?

Kanye West is posting about Nintendo coming out with a "mind-controlled" Wii in 2010. According to Yeezy, as he now refers to himself:

T3 gives a little clue that all you have is a headset accessory that uses brainwaves to control characters and features immersing in-ear headphones.

Though brain-wave technology has already become a reality with Emotive pioneering in-game systems, but soon it seems Nintendo will come out with the first mind-controlled console on the market.
My first instinct is that this is complete bulls***. However, a quick Google search tells me that there is indeed a company called Emotiv out there that is actually building headsets for "mind control." One article on CNET discusses how the reviewer was able to make an orange cube appear and disappear on a screen, using nothing but his brain. So, degree of veracity is still unclear. But still interesting.

Movie promos

In case you haven't seen either of them, I would highly recommend seeing "Wall-E" from Pixar and "Hott Fuzz," which is now making the rounds on HBO on demand.

I'll start with Wall-E, which I think is a little closer to people's minds right now. A lot is being made of the fact that there isn't a whole lot of dialogue in the movie, which is a striking change from the usual jabber-filled blab fests that are animated movies these days. The lack of dialogue highlights the simple fact that there is much more to communicating than just words. The characters in the movie, despite having a limited vocabulary, are very expressive. In a post-Seinfeld world, where people are used to talking so much about absolutely nothing, it's great to have a movie that says all that needs to be said with grace and economy.

Which is why it kills me a little bit to see people writing like this about it:

I read a great review on Wall-E at the Hollywood Reporter. The author heaps praises on the film and says that Pixar's streak of success is intact. That's pretty pleasing. Yet, the review also worries me to some extent (I'm a Disney shareholder). The author says that there isn't a lot of dialogue in the picture (I guess the robot characters don't speak) and that it might be such a smart project that some moviegoers might not fully appreciate it. In this competitive timeframe, that doesn't make me feel good. I'd rather the film be simple blockbuster material for the popcorn crowd. I don't want the young kids in the audience to feel their attention spans being strained in the least. I'm not looking for art in this case. I just want my company to make as much money as possible.
I'm not sure where to begin here. I'm sure that there are plenty of people/investors who agree with the opinions being voiced by this guy. I'm also guessing that these would have been the same people that would have urged Henry Ford to forget about the "automobile" and to just try and breed faster horses.

Hott Fuzz was the other movie I saw. I could talk about it, but there's not much to say. It's just a very well written and well executed parody of the action cop buddy drama genre. The reason that it's so good is that it succeeds as both a parody and as an action cop blah blah. I could keep talking about it, but it's definitely better that you just see it on your own.


Some people says that the best part of any blog post is the comments section. Without any further ado, here are some of the comments from an NYTimes (cherry-picked, not necessarily representative) on the Obama-Clinton meetup at Unity, NH:

Ho-Hum, somebody wake me when this nonsense is over. As a Hillary Democrat, I am disgusted with the party leaders, the super delegates, and the arrogance of the party’s annointed one. Hey, Hillary won the popular vote, did she not? This party now is devoid of experience, record of accomplishment, and trust of mainstream Americans. Joe Biden has tried to save this ticket by agreeing to be VP to plug the gap on the national security issue. But, how many plugs will be needed to cover all the issues. And, what if these plugs all fail; who is then accountable since there is no one of worth at the top of the ticket.

— Posted by benvictor

The view from unity is horrible. I want Obama supporters to beg me for my vote. No, I want them to crawl to me and beg. The chance for a female president was stolen for me. I will never see it in my lifetime now because of you Obama supporters. No unity now. No unity ever!

Are you with me girls?


— Posted by sophie

I’m with you, Sophie, but please don’t refer to us as “girls.” And I’m sure you don’t want others to assume that we are not voting for Obama simply because the nomination was unfairly snatched from Senator Clinton and she was treated like an ugly stepsister by the press and worse by the Obama fans. The issues we had with Obama before the nomination have not changed since he was crowned and the anger only adds to those reasons we will not vote for him. That is our unity.

— Posted by Judy Kilgore

I don’t want the Obama supporters to beg for our vote. All the begging in the world wouldn’t get my vote. I cannot stand Obama. I don’t care if his “stolen” views are “similar” to Clintons. Open up your eyes people he can’t make it without her. Even Clinton can’t save him now.

— Posted by Anita

There won’t be a female President probably in the lifetimes of anyone who can vote today. There simply aren’t that many women coming up in politics to begin with, and aside from Sen Clinton, likely there are none with the personality dynamics needed for someone to pursue and succeed in the position. She is truly one of a kind.

This won’t change until how girls are raised changes. That’s barely beginning to happen.

It saddens me to no end to know I will never see a President who looks like me, with the understandings and perspectives only someone born female could have. This country sorely needs that. My voice has been silenced. Don’t expect me to accept that.

— Posted by Canary in coalmine

I hope the snarky Harvard lawyer will manage not to act condescending to Senate Clinton. She is the best candidate and most powerful woman in politics today. Her husband was the greatest president of my lifetime. Obama has slandered them both repeatedly. Let’s see if he can get through this rally without saying something completely sexist and awful. It’s pretty long odds, but we can hope.

— Posted by steve pesce

Real people or Republic forum trolls?

This video is amazing

This video is amazing:

Of course, J.C. Penney claims that it's a fake.

Via Silicon Alley Insider, with italics added:

Erica Watson-Currie of Newport Beach, Calif., a consultant and lecturer, is among the women up in arms that the iPhone won't respond to their long fingernails. She states, "Considering ergonomics and user studies indicating men and women use their fingers and nails differently, why does Apple persist in this misogyny?"

Watson-Currie pegs her average fingernail length for those curious between an eighth and a quarter of an inch. She yearns for a stylus to save her from her iPhone woes. Unfortunately many have praised the iPhone for not using a stylus, which many feel is a burden and easy to lose.
Also pissed off - fat people with fat fingers. Bummer.

Back asswards

Quote from a story in the NYT:

For example, Brenda Stanhouse, who bought the game for her son, 15 years old at the time, said in a deposition that she did not know that a player in the game could “stomp to death innocent pedestrians.”

She also did not know that the game included prostitutes, that players could kill policemen or that “a player in the game can kill innocent pedestrians and steal money from them.”

“I’m aware that there is killing in the game,” Ms. Stanhouse said in the deposition. “I wasn’t aware of the stealing.”

Ms. Stanhouse was asked whether she would knowingly buy for her son a game that allowed him to kill police officers.

“Well, I think he does have games with violence,” Ms. Stanhouse said, adding that she would “possibly” buy such a game — though not one that contained sex scenes like those in San Andreas.

The exchange raises a deeper and perhaps more troubling question about the harm caused by the hidden scenes. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit clearly were more concerned about exposing their children to images of sex, but academic studies suggest that images of violence — abundant in the games — should be of greater concern.
Putting aside my own ambivalence about media influencing kids to do bad things without parents being at fault, I've thought for a while now that our whole cultural aversion to sex, as opposed to violence, is just ridiculous. If you were to marginally increase the likelihood that your child would either a) kill a police officer or b) have sex, which would you want to increase? Oddly enough, most people seem to choose option A, the option that isn't the path to our continued survival as a species.

Getting my culture on

In the last couple days, I've been checking out some of the major NYC attractions. Went to the NYSE and actually got to look at the floor in person. It looks like this:

What's interesting about the floor is that there's more weight on it than can actually be physically supported. So in order to keep the pits (those giant circular things surrounded by computer screens) from falling through, they basically have a superstructure connected to the ceiling that helps to relieve the stress. The superstructure looks like this (sorry about the resolution):

If you look closely, you can see the wires connecting the pipes to the pits. Also of interest was passing by the news stations posted in the building. For CNBC, Bloomberg, etc., it's basically just two-three guys sitting in a room full of radio equipment speaking into a mic and punching out quick posts on old-looking computers. Of course, I've got a picture of them too.

Definitely gets my vote for worst office-space in the financial services industry. Anyway, that concludes the tour.

Quick flurry of posts

I'm feeling a quick flurry of blog posts coming along. Just how these things work. First off, here's a video that one of my interns passed on to me which I thought was hilarious. A crotchety old guy who sounds like he just might have an agenda - perhaps proving that Obama supporters are uninformed, emotional kids - approaches a young supporter ("Si se puede!") with some tersely worded questions. Hilarity ensues.

Surprise, Mr. Ambush Reporter! You just happened to ambush Derrick Ashong, who graduated from Harvard with the freaking Hoopes Prize. I will openly admit to Google-stalking the guy after watching this video and getting warm fuzzies all over.

Sorry guys

Been a little out of touch lately, my bad. Working on a project, pretending to be responsible in a not entirely convincing fashion. I'm finding it a little hard to muster up the energy to be the happy and productive person that I strive/pretend to be. I'm sure that guy will be back in a jiff. Random notes:

Just went to Mexico for four days. I look like a piece of shoe leather with glasses.

For any of you Laker fans out there, ouch. Last night's game must have been painful.

Two beautiful posts from AKA Media System and Harlo. They were written a while ago, but are certainly as true today as they were a month ago. Pudge, where my letter at?

Obama, congrats on clinching the nomination. Why is Hillary still grabbing more headlines than you are?

I just listen to hype machine all day now.

I think I may have to delete my Google Reader account, it may be killing my ability to work.

Have a great weekend everybody.


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