"History is a wonderful thing, if only it was true"

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Age - population wide

A good read:

Demography | How to deal with a falling population | Economist.com:
Jul 26th 2007
From The Economist print edition
"Worries about a population explosion have been replaced by fears of decline"


"As population predictions have changed in the past few years, so have attitudes. The panic about resource constraints that prevailed during the 1970s and 1980s, when the population was rising through the steep part of the S-curve, has given way to a new concern: that the number of people in the world is likely to start falling."

Sunday, July 29, 2007


Chemical: but maybe best to comment on that some other time.

"Be In's"
Whole Earth Catalog
Not from Calif, but Michigan.

But most of all, computers.
From learning Fortran and punch cards to using TymShare, to learning Basic so that I could make an early Apple II do graphics.


Pretty quick read, would be all the way thorough it but for late start today and off to visit folks this evening

Amazon.com: What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry: Books: John Markoff:

Hard News

Conversations years ago with my late friend Dave Webb about the future of the newspaper business.

Finally coming to pass
Fortune Magazine (some good stuff on struggle to survive)
From print to Web: The Washington Post goes digital - August 6, 2007:
"Can the Washington Post survive?
Newspapers are dying. At the Washington Post Co., CEO Donald Graham is banking on the Internet to save serious journalism. If he can't figure this out, nobody can. Fortune's Marc Gunther reports."

Warren Buffett (large shareholder and board member):
"The present model - meaning print - isn't going to work"


Ran across this yesterday

Modeshift Blog Archive Build High Speed Rail in the Midwest:

"As for the technology that will get you there…. The train: is mix of mag-lev propulsion and regenerative onboard energy. Using the forward motion and wind created from the train itself. On-board turbines on the roof of the engine car will capture and re-generate power into the grid/propulsion nodes on the rails. The trains magnetic induction, or repelling factor, compliments by turning the magnetic force into an electrical conduction that makes energy as you go. Not a pure perpetual motion machine, but very very close in the terms of energy derived from its use."

What is this person thinking?
To move the mass of the train takes energy
Trying to suck energy out of the wind is just flat bass-akwards.
If you need the energy, just go straight to the source.

That said - regenerative braking makes some sense, recapturing energy for subsequent use. But not from the air you are having to move aside

Happy Birthday Doc

Doc's birthday
The Doc Searls Weblog

And although Doc may complain about age(we both just turned 60) my advice is to not let it get ya down.

This post in part from attending a wedding yesterday, and news that a younger relative just got his pacemaker.

Some of my friends are looking "older", some have even passed away, but I don't really feel all that much older myself.

Sure, a few more aches, but nothing insurmountable.

A bit different "perspective", a bit less patient with lame thinking, but much more patient in letting projects evolve.

I find myself more inclined to think in terms of decades than when I was younger.

Besides 60 is the new 40 (or so)

And you don't have to change your play-list, Stone's & Dylan, Miles, Monk & 'Train, Hall & Evans, no Guy Lombardo.

You'll wake up in a couple of days, and notice that you don't feel any different, just a few of those aches and pains. But that's what Tylanol is for.

I may spice up my food a bit more, turn up the TV volume a bit, but I find that I drive less with my glasses on ... go figure.

6o down, 60 to go ...

Thursday, July 26, 2007

There goes the neighborhood ... cont

Ah well
NYTimes covers real estate, compares house in TC to loft in LA

Furthermore, I've heard (local news) that AARP will tout TC as good retirement area

2nd Life-less ?

What happens with "virtual worlds" have no real purpose:

How Madison Avenue Is Wasting Millions on a Deserted Second Life:

For months, Michael Donnelly had been hearing all about the fantastic opportunities in Second Life.

As worldwide head of interactive marketing at Coca-Cola, Donnelly was fascinated by its commercial potential, the way its users could wander through a computer-generated 3-D environment that mimics the mundane world of the flesh. So one day last fall, he downloaded the Second Life software, created an avatar, and set off in search of other brands like his own. American Apparel, Reebok, Scion — the big ones were easy to find, yet something felt wrong: 'There was nobody else around.' He teleported over to the Aloft Hotel, a virtual prototype for a real-world chain being developed by the owners of the W. It was deserted, almost creepy. 'I felt like I was in The Shining.' "


Ever since BusinessWeek ran a breathless cover story titled "My Virtual Life" more than a year ago, reporters have been heralding Second Life as the here-and-now incarnation of the fictional Metaverse that Neal Stephenson conjured up 15 years ago in Snow Crash. (Wired created a 12-page "Travel Guide" last fall.) Unfortunately, the reality doesn't justify the excitement.

Second Life partisans claim meteoric growth, with the number of "residents," or avatars created, surpassing 7 million in June. There's no question that more and more people are trying Second Life, but that figure turns out to be wildly misleading. For starters, many people make more than one avatar. According to Linden Lab, the company behind Second Life, the number of avatars created by distinct individuals was closer to 4 million. Of those, only about 1 million had logged on in the previous 30 days (the standard measure of Internet traffic), and barely a third of that total had bothered to drop by in the previous week. Most of those who did were from Europe or Asia, leaving a little more than 100,000 Americans per week to be targeted by US marketers.


Virtual Economies - Valleywag:
"Cyberbandits steal 3.2 million Linden dollars from an ATM network in Second Life. Just what the Internet's red-light district needs: virtual bank robberies. [Reuters]"

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Whopsie ... Daisy

Is the window closing?
The bubble deflating?

U.S. Home - WSJ.com:
"Bankers postponed a sale of $12 billion in debt for Chrysler's LBO and plan to fund the bulk of it from their own pockets for now. Bankers also delayed a debt sale to finance KKR's LBO of Alliance Boots. "

Time will tell

ARM resets - ouch!

Concerns for the lenders, borrowers ...

But frankly, I'm not all that concerned about the rest of the economy.

Many of those who are holding "sub-prime" mortgages are by definition ... SUB Prime!


Monday, July 23, 2007

Whopsie ...

An alert ?

Heard on the Street - WSJ.com:
"GM's Allison Hits a Financing Snag
July 24, 2007; Page C1

Allison Transmission, a highly profitable unit of General Motors Corp. based in Speedway, Ind., has gotten stuck in a traffic jam in the debt-financing market.

Wall Street firms postponed a sale of $3.1 billion in loans that would pay for the leveraged buyout of Allison by private-equity firms, said a person familiar with the matter. While the sale of Allison to Carlyle Group LP and Onex Corp. is highly likely to proceed, the trouble raising debt from investors complicates matters for the company and its bankers.

The snag reflects difficult conditions in the market for risky corporate loans and bonds and raises questions about the prospects of other buyout-related debt financings that need to be completed this summer. That includes a $20 billion loan deal for Chrysler Group. Cerberus Capital Management has agreed to buy a majority stake in the auto maker from DaimlerChrysler AG."

Hugh's Howler

Time to get caught up on Hugh's stuff, spotted this

Click to read the rest
gapingvoid: "cartoons drawn on the back of business cards": fresh meat!: "fresh meat!

From the 'When It's Time To Bitchslap The Newbie' Department. Just got the following e-mail:

My name is [*Name Witheld*], one of staff members at [*Name Witheld*], an independent production company in New York. Our digital media division has just launched a new blog, and would like to link our readers to yours. In exchange, we ask that to be added to your blog roll...."

Cold Calls

The Doc Searls Weblog : Monday, July 23, 2007:
"So the hell with it.

Seems like about once a week I get a call from a human reading from a script, doing 'consumer research' and wanting to speak to 'a person between the ages of 18 and 49 in your household'. We don't have one of those, which is why I have to stifle the urge to ask the caller to tell me the name of the company doing the survey, so I can go out of my way never to spend any money with them. But I'm too busy for that. Or even this."

So what to do?
1) get on the national "do not call" list : National Do Not Call Registry

2) when you get a call, request removal from the caller's list.

3) charities are allowed to call, simply tell the caller that you don't respond to phone solicitations, and ask to be removed from the list

4) if all else fails, act like there is a distraction, such as someone at the door, then set the phone down - don't hang up, just allow the caller to waste their time (G)

5) robot-callers : thumb (or finger) random numbers from the keypad

All reminds me of a call, decades ago, from local cemetery, selling plots. The call was during our dinner. I was rather irate, and later, looked up the cemetery, found the name of the owner, and called him at home, during dinner hour.

Well, he asked my name and number.
I replied : "no, you call me again, I'll call you again, maybe late at night"

We got no more calls.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Gas Pains

Note: many of the problems are with BP, the green, "Beyond Petroleum" company ...

NYTimes: Gas Prices Rise on Refineries’ Record Failures

Published: July 22, 2007
Oil refineries across the country have been plagued by a record number of fires, power failures, leaks, spills and breakdowns this year, causing dozens of them to shut down temporarily or trim production. The disruptions are helping to drive gasoline prices to highs not seen since last summer’s records.

These mechanical breakdowns, which one analyst likened to an “invisible hurricane,” have created a bottleneck in domestic energy supplies, helping to push up gasoline prices 50 cents this year to well above $3 a gallon. A third of the country’s 150 refineries have reported disruptions to their operations since the beginning of the year, a record according to analysts.

Some critics of the industry have theorized on Internet blogs that the squeeze on gasoline and other refined products points to a deliberate effort among oil companies to bolster profits by keeping supplies tight. But experts point out that the companies have little incentive right now to hold back on fuel supplies.

“Every refinery would like to run as much crude as possible but they simply can’t,” said David Greely, senior energy economist at Goldman Sachs, who in a recent report compared the drop in domestic refining with an “invisible hurricane.” “These are more complex systems. There are more chances for things to go wrong. And when things go wrong, they tend to back up the system.”

Meanwhile, refiners have been scrambling to meet a raft of environmental regulations, phase out toxic additives, add ethanol to the fuel mix and introduce new ultralow sulfur standards for gasoline and diesel. Industry insiders attribute much of the fragility of refining operations to the difficulty of making these cleaner fuels.

Refiners spent $9 billion from 2002 to 2006 to make low sulfur diesel. But producing these cleaner fuels means processing crude oil more intensely through the refining process, at higher pressures and temperatures. This, in turn, leads to more chances for glitches or breakdowns, refiners say.

"All this is happening as the industry goes through another golden age. After 20 years in the doldrums, the refining business has never been so good for oil companies. Refining margins — the difference between the price of crude oil and the value of refined gasoline made from it — have shot up as much as $25 a barrel for some types of crude oil, compared with about $5 a barrel just a few years ago.

But with a third summer of high gasoline prices, lawmakers are debating legislation they claim would punish oil companies for exploiting the tight supply situation and engaging in “price gouging.” At the same time, they are pressing refiners to produce more fuel.

“Refiners want to keep running in today’s economic environment,” said Mr. Drevna of the refiners association. “But when they shut down they are accused of gouging the system. When they don’t, they are criticized for overrunning their facilities.”

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Yin Yang

Caught the Moody Blues tonight at Interlochen

Tight performance, but over amped for us.

We actually preferred the performance by Bobby Yang last Thursday.

What was so cool was that Bobby came to Beach Bards last night, and played a few riffs, un-amped.

Chatting with him afterwards, turns out he was an Interlochen summer camper.

Even more : Norda Mullen, flautist with Moody Blues, was four season Interlochen camper with World Youth Symphony Orchestra

Leapfrogging Lighting

Skipping florescence's, enhancing efficency

Toronto's Lights Are Turning Greener: "Toronto's Lights Are Turning Greener

The world's tallest freestanding structure, Toronto's CN Tower, is now more eco-friendly. Its illumination comes from light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which turn electricity directly into light, cutting energy use by 60% from the tower's previous lights. This is just one part of a plan Toronto announced on July 11 to install LEDs all across the city, from parking garages to parks, to save energy and reduce carbon emissions. To fight climate change, 'cities have to lead by example,' says Mayor David Miller."

Huh? continued


New issue of Wired (not online yet so no link ... yet)
Piece on "Price of Technolust"
American's shell out 5% of their budgets on gadgets & goodies.

Comparison is '99 to '05
Samples :
Internet access 7% of budgets and up 216% in $$$ spent (but so much more available, I slashed the amount of pulp (magazines, newspapers) that come into the house ... offsetting some costs)

Residential Phone Service 26% down 25% in $$$ spent (switch to cellphones?)

Cable & Satellite service 24% up 72% in $$$ spent
But we have many more channels now, more choices

Meanwhile Televisions are about 5% down a whopping 76% in cost!
Gimme that big old flat screen!

Update (7/23/07) the Wired link is live (with graphics):
Americans' Technolust Spending Is as Hot and Heavy as Ever:
"High tech gear gets cheaper every year. So we're spending a lot less on it, right? Um, no. In fact, the proportion of US household budgets spent on tech products and services — computers, game consoles, cell phone service, cable, TVs — has held steady at about 5 percent for most of the past decade. We're just spending that money — more than we pay for health insurance — on different stuff. For instance, we spend a lot less on TVs (as prices have dropped) but more on cable and satellite services (we need our HBO). Here's a peek at how our quest to stay wired hits our wallets."

Thursday, July 19, 2007


U.S. Home - WSJ.com:

"BANKS RAISING some $40 billion in buyout-related debt for Chrysler and Alliance Boots are being forced to sweeten terms"


Two financial-services IPOs, one from Man Group's brokerage unit and another from hedge fund Third Point, fared poorly

From the old Hill Street Blues ...
"Be careful out there"

Mid July

Busy evening

Late afternoon meeting on Park Plan
General Management Plan

Then drop in for "appreciation" gathering at Inland Seas over in Sutton's Bay

Then scoot back to Leland to see opening of show by our friend Ted Peterson
Main Street Gallery

Good evening, he'd already sold about half the show!

Then back to Leelanau School for Manitou Music Festival

Tonight it was :

Bobby Yang and his Unrivaled Players

Click the link for sample
Classical trained violinist who Rocks!

Acoustic violin with electric pickups (held on with what looked to be rubber bands!)
Hot enough that if we hadn't had rain lately, there would have been risk of forest fire ...

Of course we picked up a couple CD's
Afterglow at Art's Tavern

Just another evening in paradise ... we rolled to all of these in the S2000 of course (VBG)


Had the TV on most of yesterday, but with the sound down
Fed Chair Bernanke was giving his Humphry Hawkins talk.
I did catch the following:

Representative Maxine Waters asking questions:

Transcript: Ben Bernanke (washingtonpost.com):

"I was talking with my colleagues here a little bit earlier about the ways in which the income of the average person is just going out the window. We have all this new technology and new kind of products in our lives that -- and all kind of fees, you know. What an average family is paying for telephone service now probably has been quadrupled, based on the home that we used to know that had one, maybe, telephone with an extension.

Now everybody's got a cell phone. And you've got to pay Internet charges. And you've got late fees. And you've got to pay all these extraordinary banking fees if you don't use a teller. On and on and on. But I hear no discussion of that.

And someone brought up, even, the amount of money that we're paying for health care, et cetera."

You kind of talk about it in the traditional way. And you talk about the increased costs of energy and food. But what about all of the new expenditures that the average family is confronted with?"

Consumers now have more services, but have to pay for them.

Hey ... I use to have a canned tuna salad sandwich, and now you are serving me seared Ahi... but I have to PAY MORE!
That's not fair, it's still tuna.

I use to have analog dial up phone over twisted pair, and before that, folks had to crank the phone, go through an operator.
Now I have digital cellphone ... but I have to pay more.
Not Fair!

I use to have 300 baud acoustic modem, now I've got "always-on-line" high speed internet at thousands of times the speed and capacity... but I have to pay more.
Not Fair!

Note that I have not taken the time to check on phone charges, but I know that mine have headed down.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Barely There

From a couple weeks ago:

Now we have Sub Prime Mortgage Meltdown:
Just last March 15th BusinessWeek:
Bear Stearns Shrugs Off Subprime Worries:

The Wall Street firm overcame weakness in its mortgage biz thanks to its strength in fixed-income"

Now this:
Subprime Uncertainty Fans Out - WSJ.com:
"Subprime Uncertainty Fans Out
Bear's Hedge Funds
Are Basically Worthless;
More Bond Fire Sales
July 18, 2007;
Investors in two troubled Bear Stearns Cos. hedge funds that made big bets on subprime mortgages have been practically wiped out, the Wall Street firm said yesterday, in more evidence of the turmoil in this corner of the bond market.

Bear said one of its funds was worth nothing and another worth less than a 10th of its value from a few months ago after its subprime trades went bad, according to a letter Bear circulated and to people briefed by the firm. The Wall Street investment bank -- known for its bond-trading savvy -- has had to put up $1.6 billion in rescue financing"

Four short months from "no problem" to "whoopsie"

Congressional investigations?
Don't bet on it.
Congress wanted lenders to open markets to those who couldn't afford to borrow, therefore, to some extent, this was a congressional mandate to make bad loans.

Monday, July 16, 2007


Looney Dunes: Vroom

Got the following comment from Anonymous:

"Interesting that you tuned your bikes for torque ("Ride-ability", see below) but you bought an S2000 - 9k redline, and all the torque of a lawnmower. :)

Did you look at the Saturn Sky/Pontiac Solstice? The blown versions are the first American cars in a long time I'd seriously consider buying.

(oops - just saw you got the '05. 'Only' 8200rpm)"

In case you read this...

The S2000 is not all that peaky in power delivery, actually quite linear, somewhat like my 1100 V4 (which runs to about 10K)
Picked over the Saturn for several reasons, including looks - Sky is a bit to "aggressive" in some if it's lines and a bit too much chrome for my taste.
I've never been fond of turbos (due to lag), and have to admit that I did not try the Sky turbo (Redline). Spec's do show a lot more torque for the Sky.

Biggest point was ... depreciation.
Low mileage S2000 already taken much of it's depreciation, driving off the lot in the Sky would cost several thousand dollars.

And as for tuning bikes, it referred to when I was building race bikes, back in the 70's, building Ducati's for endurance racing, we preferred broad power vs. high peak power. That said, we were still looking at about 9K redline, often running 7500-8000 range.

Anonymous: drop me a line and we can discuss further...

Jeff Jonas on Observation

Jeff knows how to catch liars and cheats
So well, in fact that IBM bought his company, which had been catching crooks in Vegas.

Trick is observation - DEEP Observation

Jeff Jonas: How to Use a "Glue Gun" to Catch a Liar

Although I think the image of rubber cement is better than glue gun ... but just read it, along with his other writings.

Oil Prospects

From WSJournal on prospects for oil

It will get more expensive as it gets harder to recover and deliver.
Not that we'll run out, but there are physical and political problems

"World oil and gas supplies from conventional sources are unlikely to keep up with rising global demand over the next 25 years, the U.S. petroleum industry says in a draft report of a study commissioned by the government.

In the draft report, oil-industry leaders acknowledge the world will need to develop all the supplemental sources of energy it can -- ranging from biofuels to nuclear power to oil extracted by unconventional means from the oil sands of Canada -- to meet soaring demand. The surge in demand is expected to arise from rapid economic growth in such fast-developing countries as China and India, as well as mounting consumption in the U.S., the world's biggest energy market."


Doc was flying a bit north of here last Wed (the 11th) and caught Aurora from his window (SanFran to London)

2007_07_11 Aurora from a 777 over Lake Superior - a photoset on Flickr

Too bad we had a overcast/rain evening at this end, guess that we are about 75 miles south of the flightpath


Don't hold your breath for Solar Salvation to energy issues.
Politicians will spend money on pet projects that will "get votes"

Solar Power Wins Enthusiasts but Not Money - New York Times:
"But for all the enthusiasm about harvesting sunlight, some of the most ardent experts and investors say that moving this energy source from niche to mainstream — last year it provided less than 0.01 percent of the country’s electricity supply — is unlikely without significant technological breakthroughs. And given the current scale of research in private and government laboratories, that is not expected to happen anytime soon.

Even a quarter century from now, says the Energy Department official in charge of renewable energy, solar power might account for, at best, 2 or 3 percent of the grid electricity in the United States.

In the meantime, coal-burning power plants, the main source of smokestack emissions linked to global warming, are being built around the world at a rate of more than one a week.

But Vinod Khosla, a prominent Silicon Valley entrepreneur who focuses on energy, said the market-driven improvements were not happening fast enough to put solar technology beyond much more than a boutique investment.

“Most of the environmental stuff out there now is toys compared to the scale we need to really solve the planet’s problems,” Mr. Khosla said.

Scientists long ago calculated that an hour’s worth of the sunlight bathing the planet held far more energy than humans worldwide could use in a year, and the first practical devices for converting light to electricity were designed more than half a century ago.

Yet research on solar power and methods for storing intermittent energy has long received less spending, both in the United States and in other industrialized countries, than energy options with more political support."


"For decades, conventional nuclear power and nuclear fusion received dominant shares of government energy-research money. While venture capitalists often support the commercialization of new technologies, basic research money comes almost entirely from the federal government.

These days, a growing amount of government money is headed to the farm-state favorite, biofuels, and to research on burning coal while capturing the resulting carbon dioxide, the main heat-trapping smokestack gas."

Sunshine vs corn?

"Biofuels, mostly ethanol and biodiesel, have attracted lawmakers who support farm subsidies. Last year an impromptu coalition established a goal of producing 25 percent of the country’s energy, including vehicle fuel, from renewable sources by 2025. Legislation to that effect attracted 34 senators and 69 representatives as co-sponsors; the resolutions are pending in both houses. Most of the measure’s supporters are from agricultural areas."

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Brief History and some links

10 year anniversary of blogs?

Happy Blogiversary - WSJ.com: "Once a neologism, outlandish to some, weblog has come to be abbreviated to blog, a brusque and jaunty word that no one, now, would think to look up in a dictionary. That said, the spell check on Microsoft Word has yet to awaken to the concept of the blog. Type in 'blogging,' for instance, and you will promptly earn a disapproving underscore in red, with the suggestion that 'bogging,' 'clogging,' 'flogging' or 'slogging' (unappetizing alternatives all) might, in truth, be the word you seek.

In the decade since their conception, blogs, once a smorgasbord of links, have evolved into vehicles for a fuller, more forceful and opinionated prose. Not all of it has been lovely to behold, or even edifying. Inevitably, there has been bombast, verbosity and exposure to the public eye of thoughts that, ideally, should have remained locked inside fevered heads. (The impact of blogs on public discourse has included, I contend, the emergence of a form of 'oral blogging,' noticeable at seminars and the like, where people who might once have asked brisk questions are now empowered by the blog form to hold forth at length, with little attempt at self-editing.)"

Friday, July 13, 2007

There goes the neighborhood ...

NYTimes covers Traverse City, Old Mission and Leelanau
Missed our corner (Glen Lake) but that's fine with me
We have enough traffic

Thursday, July 12, 2007


Finally went and bought it
Yesterday "7-11"
Used, low mileage, but avoided a chunk of depreciation

Already even more fun than my CRX from years ago

Honda S2000 Reviews and Ratings - 2005 Honda S2000 New Car Test Drive

2005 Honda S2000 New Car Test Drive
The four-wheel superbike gets a little more civilized.
by Sam Moses


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Turn your Radio ... On

Doc on dearth of local radio

The Doc Searls Weblog : Tuesday, July 10, 2007

To which I replied ...
Damn but you manage to dredge up old thoughts (mine)
Never got deep into radio, but hung around the edges ... friends who were, for lack of a better term, DJ's.

Recalling one having a "tryst" during a long cut, and getting carried away ... sound of needle skipping.

Did my own stint in broadcast class (DJ, not tryst) and when ever you hung "dead air" for more than maybe 5 seconds there were loud catcalls from the rest.
Did some pre-class in school "radio" ... was the "left field guy" rolling out Miles Davis and Coltrane when others ran Richie Vallens etc.

Many years later, dinner with a friend, and were joined by manager of a "new style" station and ripped him for such lousy broadcasting with up to 5 min of dead air ... got lame replies about automated systems and loss of satellite feeds.

Guess I have to learn to get podcasts ... just learning the "Apple TV" Shirley got me.

Then I found :Dennis Miller Radio: The Dennis Miller Show Archives

Downloaded and now playing through our TV
Better than 90% of "Talk Radio" ...if Rush works with "half his brain tied behind his back" (and it shows ... what a doofus) ... Dennis works with all his brain and then some.

Setting the Stage

News from July 5th

Gore’s Son Is Facing Charges in California After Freeway Arrest - New York Times:

Just before "Live Earth" young Gore gets attention for 100MPH (NOT MPG) in his Prius.
(oh yeah, pot and Rx Pharma too)

Dad was busy with media prep for the event.

Seems it may not have been as much of a hit as it was touted to be.
We missed it ... enjoying great weather.

Others comments : Energy Roundup - WSJ.com : Cool Reception to 'Live Earth'

"July 9, 2007, 5:32 pm

Cool Reception to ‘Live Earth’

Iain Murray of Planet Gore notes the cool reception to the Live Earth concert this weekend, citing a peak audience of 4.5 million, compared with 9.6 million for Live 8 two years ago: “Is it really any wonder people didn’t tune in? [B]izarrely silly pledges scrolling across the bottom of the screen…like “Tony B has pledged to turn off lights he’s not using” summed up the spirit of the event: public recognition and plaudits for promising to do things your grandmother would have clipped you across the ear for not doing.”

There was also criticism from within. Willy DeBacker of 3E Intelligence criticized Live Earth for spawning more carbon emissions (through the millions of tuned-in TV sets, not to mention the air force of private jets flying entertainers around), and questioned the effectiveness of concert-activism."

Why Live Earth concerts will make no difference! � 3E Intelligence

Monday, July 09, 2007

Good Reads in Business/Investing

Bank Credit Analyst
Such as :
The Endgame For Risky Assets?
11:57:00, July 06, 2007
It is too early to expect a significant widening in credit spreads.

Corporate balance sheets are currently in great shape (although the era of improvement is over). Similarly, commercial bank balance sheets are in the best condition they have been in for a long time. Risk was concentrated in the banking sector in many past financial crises. This time, securitization has enabled credit risk to be more dispersed, thereby reducing systemic risk.


Riding the Energy Bull
12:15:00, July 05, 2007
Our Commodity and Energy service recently released a report highlighting that energy stocks are entering a mania phase that could resemble the tech mania in the late 1990s.

Energy continues to be our favorite mania candidate because a structural increase in emerging markets’ demand is being met by a limited supply response. This is a very positive backdrop for energy stocks, where valuations remain attractive and relative earnings are strengthening.

Hybrid posts cont

Say ‘Hybrid’ and Many People Will Hear ‘Prius’ - New York Times:

"A riddle: Why has the Toyota Prius enjoyed such success, with sales of more than 400,000 in the United States, when most other hybrid models struggle to find buyers?"

"The Prius has become, in a sense, the four-wheel equivalent of those popular rubber “issue bracelets” in yellow and other colors — it shows the world that its owner cares.

In fact, more than half of the Prius buyers surveyed this spring by CNW Marketing Research of Bandon, Ore., said the main reason they purchased their car was that “it makes a statement about me.”"

Maybe it patterns to this:
Steve Gillmor’s GestureLab

"Gestures have become big business. The politics of personality swamp us with messages that need to be triaged much like we used to parse advertising. Is this the program wrapped in signals or signals disguised as programming? Yes. It’s an ugly space we’re in, and nobody holds the high ground. We’re all selling something, and of course it’s ourselves."

Newsworthy ?

Haven't see this on CNN or in NYTimes

U.S. Home - WSJ.com:
"U.S. OFFICIALS ARE STUDYING ways to end North Korea hostilities. As disarmament talks continue, strategists are beginning to examine a possible formal peace accord to end 50 years of Cold War animosity."

Newsworthy ?
Or not enough blood or blond (Paris Hilton?) ?

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Wine and Life

Nice piece by David

isen.blog: Wine and Life


Doc on Gestures

The Doc Searls Weblog : Sunday, July 8, 2007

Read the above piece having come in from a while reading Arthur Herman's "How the Scots Invented the Modern World"

In particular, a section on Franchis Hutcheson and how the ultimate human goal is to make others happy "It is the inner glow when we make a child smile."

Francis Hutcheson

Finance cont.

Couple of posts ago I outlined problems with "Rocket Science"
Looney Dunes: Finance troubles yet again

Rocket Science fails when unplanned variables break the model.
That said, "Modern" Finance, and the markets it has generated have served a very useful purpose: the spreading and sharing of risk.

Futures, options and all of the various forms of derivitives have both broadened and deepened the capital markets.

The problems arise when players go too far in seeking the marginal dollar or few cents profit from the markets.

I suppose it's "human nature" to explore and take risks, and this is where the cleansing of the markets needs to occur from time to time.
Others learn from traders fatal errors and adjust the markets.

Mark Twain: "History doesn't repeat, but it rhymes..."

"And the Beat Goes On"

Doc picks up on my rant's on customer service, and adds a bit more

The Doc Searls Weblog : Saturday, July 7, 2007

He also linked to this : TDCRC Home Page - Welcome!

Related (sorta) : Backchannel

"The first famous instance of backchannel communications influencing a talk occurred on March 26, 2002, at the PC Forum conference, when Qwest CEO Joe Nacchio famously lamented the difficulties of raising capital. Journalists Dan Gillmor and Doc Searls posted accounts, from the audience, in real-time, to their weblogs. A reader of Gillmore's Buzz Bruggeman emailed information about a recent sizeable transaction that had made Nacchio very wealthy; both Gillmore and Searls updated their weblogs with that information.

In her article referring to the "Parallel Channel," PC Forum host Esther Dyson wrote, "around that point, the audience turned hostile." Many commentators later attributed the audience's hostility to the information people shared while surfing and communicating on their laptops during Nacchio's remarks."

Not only did the audience turn hostile, but as PC Forum was "open mike" and Nacchio was queried on his position that shareholders were clueless, while he was selling, Joe turned hostile.

Now, Nacchio has been convicted on 19 counts of insider trading ... sentencing due July 27th.
AP : "Mr. Nacchio, who resigned from Qwest Communications International Inc. under pressure in June 2002, is scheduled to be sentenced July 27 in U.S. District Court. He was charged with 42 counts of insider trading for $101 million worth of transactions between January and May 2001.

The jury acquitted him on 23 counts, but concluded that his criminal action began after an April 2001 conference call when he failed to inform investors of the problems the company faced. Jurors convicted him on 19 counts for transactions during April and May of 2001."

Then we have Sprint:
Looney Dunes: The Numb Utility Saga continues:
"Other : Sprint has the goofiest phone bill pay system.
After you key in the payment and get the 'robo-voice' (older and less pleasant than Charter) reading back your Visa information and the question 'is this correct?'
Respond in positively and the same voice gives you a 'confirm' number and asks 'is this correct?'

Huh? You just gave me the number 'robo-bitch'"

And this week WSJournal:
"Sprint Nextel Corp. has taken the unusual step of disconnecting customers who call customer service excessively."

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Finance troubles yet again

About a decade ago we had the 1997 East Asian financial crisis which ended up bringing down Long-Term Capital Management

"Long-Term Capital Management (LTCM) was a hedge fund founded in 1994 by John Meriwether (the former vice-chairman and head of bond trading at Salomon Brothers). On its board of directors were Myron Scholes and Robert C. Merton, who shared the 1997 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics[1]. Initially enormously successful with annualized returns of over 40% in its first years, in 1998 it lost $4.6 billion in less than four months and became the most prominent example of the risk potential in the hedge fund industry. The fund folded in early 2000."

A decade earlier we had Black Monday (1987) which was fueled by "Program Trading"

From Where Have All the Flowers Gone by Pete Seeger
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Now we have Sub Prime Mortgage Meltdown:
Just last March 15th BusinessWeek:
Bear Stearns Shrugs Off Subprime Worries:
"Bear Stearns Shrugs Off Subprime Worries
The Wall Street firm overcame weakness in its mortgage biz thanks to its strength in fixed-income

Since Bear Stearns (BSC) does much of its business in debt markets including mortgage lending, investors have worried about the New York financial services firm during recent weeks as the subprime market melts. But Bear Stearns has a diverse mix of businesses. The company on March 15 posted stronger profits during the three months ended Feb. 28, as its sales improved in other businesses besides mortgages."

Just over 3 months later ...
Bear's Stock Is Acting Like Its Name - WSJ.com:
Shares Drop to Lowest Level in Nearly a Year
As the Wall Street Firm Feels Subprime Chill

"Over the years, Wall Street firm Bear Stearns Cos. has weathered a number of storms. And last week, when the 84-year-old company decided to lend as much as $3.2 billion to a troubled internal hedge fund, it was with an eye toward easing investor anxieties."

A common thread is the idea that automated systems, sometimes known as "Rocket Science" can be applied to markets.
The flaw is that, sooner or later, the exogensis or unaccounted for variable breaks the model, and it fails.

Friday, July 06, 2007

A little quiet time

Late afternoon over Lake Michigan

Calendar rather light this week

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Not Dead Yet (from Spam-a-Lot)

Subtitled 60 down 60 to go

So... turned 60 just about two weeks ago, been busy since.
Put aside the "to-do" list (mostly) for the day.

Catching up some today and find myself firing up the iTV Shirley got me, deciding to download/watch "Battlestar Galactica ( someone recommended it... I remember the original, with Loren Green! ), playing some Bill Evans/Jim Hall while waiting, multitasking by reading BusinessWeek :

Children Of The Web:


How the second-generation Internet is spawning a global youth culture--and what business can do to cash in

It's a simple sales pitch, really: Hey, dude, spray Axe deodorant all over your body, and you will become irresistible to beautiful young women. But what Russell Taylor, the Axe vice-president, proposed doing with that straightforward idea was ambitious. He wanted to turn it into a truly global marketing message, one that would work in all 75 countries where Unilever (UN ) sells Axe. The solution that came back from advertising agency BBH was to invent a new phrase that guys would hear as an international expression of lust—a female wolf whistle heard 'round the world."

Hey ... been using Axe bodywash for a few months:

Hip by accident? (note Axe logo a bit worn)

I may not IM often, don't have MySpace/FaceBook pages (yet?) but do try to stay "in tune" with some trends.

Note that all of the above (music, video downloading, photo editing) was with my old G4 Powerbook, although the clock cycles did get a bit overwhelmed from time to time ... upgrade time???

Monday, July 02, 2007

AT&T "upgrade"

Well, Cingular online payments worked, but then SBC bought AT&T, re-badged Cingular as AT&T Wireless and "upgraded" the site.

Now we have "improved" features such as apparent inability to remember customers, at least on the first try. Then assigning decimal points to payments... I tried to "over pay" with entry of $125 but was charged all of $1.25. OK, so I tried to pay-up $15 and wait until next month to load up the account ... nope, got another error :

The AT&T curse continues.


Came across an interview with Kenny Roberts (Wikipedia)
and comments on power curves/tuning.

"I liked torque, and that's the only thing I could ride with. I remember Kel (Carruthers, his team manager/mentor) bringing me stuff that a lot of rpm and was really good on power, and I couldn't ride it around the racetrack...I remember I had a bike at Laguna Seca that Kel made rev like 13,600. At that time, them things were revving like at 12,000. This thing was revving to 13,600 and it had X-amount of horsepower, like 10 more. I was like 'Man, I'm going to kill everybody.' I got beat like a wet noodle because I just couldn't accelerate. I didn't know when to turn it on."

Torque is common parlance for lower rpm power and a responsive throttle, horsepower is torque times rpm, so can mean more sudden power delivery, useful for top speed but that's about all.

The old adage is "slow down to go fast"
It applies to power delivery as well as to riding style.
Predictable power is easier to use.

I tended to tune for that.