Monday, September 25, 2006

Economics of Solar Power

In an article on Silicon Valley's involvement with solar cells, I found this tidbit:
Despite technological advances since the first photovoltaic cells were invented 50 years ago, solar is still two to three times more expensive than fossil fuels in the U.S. and relies on government subsidies to compete.

But improving technology, falling costs, rising prices for fossil fuels, concerns about the electric grid's stability and worries about global warming are all raising interest in solar energy. The industry is expected to grow from $11 billion in 2005 to $51 billion in 2015, according to a projection by Clean Edge Inc., a market research firm focused on clean technology.


"Mother Nature Has Spoken"

So, is the hurricane threat over for this season? It looks like it to me. Can I say that "Mother Nature Has Spoken" like big Al did in this interview? As I said here, the global warming proponents take a hit when they try and link hurricanes to global warming, because there will be down years in hurricane activity, like 2006. When you link heavy years to GW, the opposite link will be made by your opponents when conditions don't produce major hurricanes. Best keep your mouth shut and not try and overhype the data.

Global Warming: Newspaper Versus Journal

This is an example of a newspaper article written on Global Warming.
The Earth has been warming at a rate of 0.36 degree Fahrenheit per decade for the last 30 years, according to the research team led by James Hansen of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York.

That brings the overall temperature to the warmest in the current interglacial period, which began about 12,000 years ago.

The study said the recent warming has brought global temperature to a level within about one degree Celsius — 1.8 degree Fahrenheit — of the maximum temperature of the past million years.
Notice how it relies on authority and name recognition over actual data and analysis. There are no graphs, there are no actual data. Not good enough for me. Time to start googling.

The inquisitive person can go here for the full, scientific paper published by The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

One thing I find interesting about the full article is that it acts as if the current warming trend began 12,000 years ago instead of almost 20,000 years ago. They discuss how the temperature has changed approximately 0.2 C per decade in the last 30 years. This is a case of picking their time period correctly to give the result they want. Considering there was no temperature increase between 1929 and 1976 when humans emitted a large amount of C02, I would conclude there are other factors involved betsides just C02 concentration.

There is never discussion of the sharp trend between 19,000 years ago and 10,000 years ago when the earth warmed about 8 C (ref Volstoc Ice Core Data). Presumable, that temperature rise was not related to human activity on planet earth. Personally, I want an explanation of historical rises in temperature and CO2 concentrations before humans had a chance to impact the climate through the burning of hydrocarbons.

Here is an interesting tidbit: August 2006 was the coolest August since 1997. Don't believe me? Go look at the NASA data. (Update 13-Oct-06 - The NASA data has changed as a result of an update in temperature data from Australia and Antartica. Dr. Sato of GISS gave the plausible explanation of the data revision.)

Update: The Nasa

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Rita Corpses Still Being Found

Gee, how about not burying them there?

HP's Dunn is Done

As expected, Dunn resigned from HP for her role in the spy scandal. The original leak of their strategic plan was bad enough. This is far worse. Throughout this entire story, all I could say was "What were these people thinking?" and "Did they think their tactics would not get out and destroy public trust in their company?"

Harvard Business Review will study this case in years to come. I'll save them the trouble: people with overblown egos and fat paychecks to match thought the rules don't apply to them. Their hubris cost the company far more than the original leak. End of story.

Damaging Report on BP

This report written by Ray Skinner is very harsh on BP. I am aware of Skinner's OSHA work before his retirement and subsequent employment as lawyers' hired gun in the BP case. However I disagree with Skinner's previous stance on a couple of industry cases and the way he played to the media, my own opinion pretty much agrees with his assessment. The BP case was simply a blatant failure by management to correct a known safety hazard. In this day and age, those vent stacks should not have existed nor should the column startup conditions have been allowed to operate.

The only thing in BP's defense was a very thorough investigation and public disclosure of their findings. Most companies would have hidden the results behind layers of lawyers. BP chose full disclosure. Of course, that does not bring back those 12 people, but it was a good way to proceed with the investigation.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Unique Music Mapping Idea

I found this site while hunting around on for the HP story. If you type in a band, it creates a map of similar music for you to explore. It is not as good as Pandora where I have found many great bands that I loved and purchased their music. Try both!!

HP's Cost of Trust

Watch as HP's stock drops precipitously on more news of their spying scandal:
Shares of HP dropped more than 5 percent today after reports that Chief Executive Officer Mark Hurd knew more about the skullduggery than previously thought. Wall Street was worried that the man who engineered HP's recovery — the man they thought was scandal-free — would lose his job and leave the company rudderless in a time of crisis.
And what was this all over: this article.

What's new:

HP execs are mulling plans to improve over the next 18 months the technology the company uses to manage its direct sales, while it continues with commercial printing efforts and acquisitions of software companies.

Bottom line:

Company is considering making more acquisitions in the infrastructure software arena, including security software companies, storage software makers and software companies that serve the blade server market. Former Dell CIO Randy Mott will help HP implement the back-end processes needed to operate a top-notch direct-order Web site. And after the Itanium debacle, HP plans to use AMD's Opteron more.

So, in order to protect their long-term strategic plan that was already leaked, they decided to destroy public trust with their witch hunt. Was it worth it?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Oil Price Update

Time to update the oil price chart. Watch as it drops off a cliff. Why, you ask? I have no idea.

Enron exec's 'deeper guilt'

"Deeper Guilt" my butt. Deeper pile of horse manure is more like it. He only got 30 months. I hope he spends it finding out the meaning of "deeper" from his cell mate.

Movies over Internet

Disney has started selling their movies over the Internet. If they can deal with the piracy issues, this could be major, disruptive technology that would render DVD's almost obsolete. I say "almost" because I still buy CD's from Amazon and Best Buy even though I have an iPod and buy music from iTunes. Sometimes I like to get the CD, but I can eventually see myself buying music entirely via download. Time will tell with movies.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Corporate toe-stub disease runs wild

This is so funny, because it is true.

Enron execs face "audit"

How about the death penalty for these guys? I think about them every time I face a SOx audit, which is coming up on 25-Sept. Death is too good for these guys. How about life with a "special" cell mate. Yeah. Every time I get a SOx audit, they get an "audit" as well. If you know what I mean.

Baytown families evacuated after pipeline ruptured

Here is another story about the Houston chemical industry from the crack detective squad at the Chronicle. Wow. These guys did not miss their chemistry classes did they:
The pipeline carries isobutane, a highly flammable and heavy gas that could ignite
Isobutane is not heavy, it is very light. It will form a vapor cloud and explode. It is heavier than air, but that makes it more dangerous as it hugs the ground. More from the Pulitzer Prize winning journalists getting that money quote from the emergency responders:
"There are a lot of different chemicals used in the (refineries and chemical) plants around here," he said. "They have different uses for things."
Thirty seconds of googling yields this:
Normal butane and isobutane can serve various industrial uses. These two energy forms are present in most unrefined natural gas and in crude petroleum products. Normal butane is used for gasoline blending or as a feedstock to make plastic products. Isobutane is used as a propellant primarily in aerosol products, foam packaging, paints and synthetic rubber or as a petrochemical feedstock, serving as a key octane component of motor gasoline or in high octane-enhancing gasoline additives.
Man that was tough!!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Milton Friedman on Limited Government

H/T Cafe Hayek:

This video of Friedman is a classic from the 1960's. Especially the opening remarks:
Liberal "of and pertaining to freedom"
On soft hearts "The people that go around talking about their soft heart. I admire them for the softness of their heart. Unfortunately, it very often extends to the softness of their head as well."


Friday, September 15, 2006

Health Care System in Crisis

What more proof does anyone need that our health care system is in crisis?

Clean technology key to French coal revival

How can the Kyoto Protocol be followed if this trend continues in France? It appears to me to be a big game. Except that by not following Kyoto, those that signed up are revealing themselves to be frauds. At least America said they were not going to follow it, and hasn't.

Iraq joining Iran to develop oil fields

This comes under the heading of:"Where goods travel, troops will not follow." International commerce increases the ties between countries such that war is unpalatable. Who do you think stopped Pakistan and India from fighting a war a couple of years back? It was IBM and the international business community that told India to back off. Because China and the US have such interdependent economic ties, I believe that war is now impossible between our nations. (Especially after learning this).

Car crashes biggest killer of children

Car crashes are not only the biggest killer of children, but are the number one killer of adults up to age 55. The riskiest thing you do all day is get in the car and drive. Remember: eyes on task, mind on task, avoid frustration, avoid rushing, drive sober and arrive alive.

More Ford Planned Cuts

More on Ford's planned job cuts. White collar workers are not immune. I just wish they would start at the top and work their way downward rather than the reverse.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Ford Layoff Plan

Ford is offering to buyout 75,000 union workers. This sentence tells it all:
The buybacks are aimed at helping Ford cut costs as its sales shrink under fierce competition from more fuel-efficient models from Asian automakers.

I used to blame the unions, but it is management who failed to use the best management tools to keep their plants competitive. The American worker in Toyota plants gets within 4% of Japanese workers. And yet, Ford, GM and Chrysler just don't get it. Toyota showed GM the way with its JV plant in California (NUMMI) and they still did not get it.
It is sad really. We have the knowledge, but refuse to admit that big bureaucracies just don't work. It is our own damn fault.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Lance Armstrong Smear Job

This is the kind of trash that gives sports writers a bad name. Trafficking in pure rumors and innuendos with little basis in fact is E.M. Swift.
Is the truth finally catching up with Lance Armstrong, and is this one race the seven-time Tour de France champion may not be able to win?
He cannot win because of smear-meisters just like you. their sworn testimony the Andreus said that when they visited Armstrong in the hospital after he'd been diagnosed with testicular cancer, they'd heard him tell his oncologists that he'd used "steroids, testosterone, cortisone, growth hormone and EPO." Their testimony was disputed by the doctor who administered Armstrong's chemotherapy at Indiana University Medical Center. In the same trial, Armstrong testified that his doctors never asked him if he'd used performance-enhancing drugs, and that he'd never used those substances. Which testimony is more credible? The Andreus' or Armstrong's? Ask yourself which party had the most to gain by lying. And why is that particular testimony significant? Because one of the possible side effects of prolonged steroid use is testicular cancer.
Of course, in the very next sentence. Swift admits it is impossible to prove!
It's impossible to prove
And you know what, Armstrong won that lawsuit. So, the truth is on his side. He has passed every single drug test he has ever taken. And yet, people like Swift continue:
Here's the thing about truth: It may take a while. It may take years. But truth's a tenacious battler. Eventually it will come out.
You know what. Leave Lance Armstrong alone. Swift is a small person who is envious of the champion Lance will always be. Swift will never be anything.

Landis' lawyer wants doping charges dropped

Sorry Landis. You are still a loser, no matter what your lawyer wants. The saddest part about all this is Lance Armstrong is being smeared by Sports Illustrated. Shame on you again Landis.

HP Bristol-Myers CEO's Out

HP chairperson is out. So is Bristol-Myers CEO. The President of TSU is gone as well. Do we have an ethics crisis in corporate and academic America? I think so.

My theory is people in those high positions get on an ego trip. They start to believe that the rules do not apply to them. They cannot remember where they came from and what it means to do the right thing, not sometimes, but all the time. That is their downfall and the problem with power at high levels in corporations.

I work for a company that had a long history of price fixing in all sorts of chemical markets. All of the known collusion happened long before my involvement, but now, I have to take all sorts of ethics courses while the perpetrators are featured for finally fessing up. My company is famous for being the first to roll on its co-conspirators, avoiding the harshest penalties. And you know what, some of the same people in the thick of the pricing fixing are still in high levels in the company. And everyone knows it. Sad. Sad. Sad

Saudis Say: Tap the Keg

The Saudi's seem to believe that only 18% of the world's reserves are tapped. I remain skeptical of this claim because if it is accurate, then it is a half-truth. It is deceptive because there may be another 82% technically under ground, it will become increasingly difficult and uneconomical to exploit. I heard this on the radio today by Howard Simons:
"The real truth about Peak Oil is it is a diminishing return on investment argument. The resource space is here, but you have to spend more and more to get less."
Truer words have never been spoke. We may have only tapped 18%, but the remainder is very expensive.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Zero Hurricanes or One Tropical Storms In Gulf

What will Al Gore do if only one tropical storms or hurricanes enter the Gulf? Will he say, "Mother Nature has spoken?"

Keep watching the tropics here: National Hurricane Center / Tropical Prediction Center

The BP Ouch Continues

The pain for BP over the Prudhoe Bay pipeline continues:
Singling out BP for criticism, Barrett said, "We do not see conditions like this replicated on other lines on the North Slope and other lines in the national pipeline system."

Monday, September 11, 2006

'Second Life' Has Security Breach

I never understood those who attempt to have a second life in the virtual world rather than have a real life in the real world. Now they can be robbed in the real world for their activities in the second. How weird is that?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

WTC Was, Will Be 9/11/06

This is not a political blog. In fact, I avoid most politics that do not intersect with economics or global warming. However, 9/11 is the defining event of the last 40 years. Here is my limited tribute:

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Seas Cooling?

H/T Ultima Thule
The American Spectator has an article about the seas cooling down:
In the next few weeks, John Lyman of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will publish a paper in the refereed journal Geophysical Research Letters showing that, globally, the top 2,500 feet of the ocean lost a tremendous amount of heat between 2003 and 2005 -- in fact, about 20% of all the heat gained in the last half-century.

Needless to say, Lyman's figures have climate scientists scratching their heads. No computer model predicts such behavior. And further, the changes in surface temperatures haven't corresponded (yet?) to the average changes at depth, although deep-water temperatures have also dropped some. Nor has the sea level dropped by an amount commensurate with the cooling (water volume varies slightly with temperature).
Interesting stuff.

Seas Cooling?

H/T Ultima Thule
The American Spectator has an article about the seas cooling down:
In the next few weeks, John Lyman of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will publish a paper in the refereed journal Geophysical Research Letters showing that, globally, the top 2,500 feet of the ocean lost a tremendous amount of heat between 2003 and 2005 -- in fact, about 20% of all the heat gained in the last half-century.

Needless to say, Lyman's figures have climate scientists scratching their heads. No computer model predicts such behavior. And further, the changes in surface temperatures haven't corresponded (yet?) to the average changes at depth, although deep-water temperatures have also dropped some. Nor has the sea level dropped by an amount commensurate with the cooling (water volume varies slightly with temperature).
Interesting stuff.

Carbon Negative?

Here is one person's take on the issue:
Two terms are being used interchangeably despite being opposites: carbon positive ` carbon negative. In both cases people are referring to offsetting or sequestering more carbon dioxide than is emitted. To date, neither Wikipedia nor Google definitions has weighed in on this matter. As the point is to leave less CO2 in the atmosphere than you put in, we at Z+ think it makes sense to call it carbon negative. We are however willing to concede that offsetting beyond neutrality is a positive thing to do!
Jim VAT does not think it is possible to be carbon negative, nor even carbon neutral, throughout the entirety of all your life's actions. The best we can do is reduce what we currently emit and use non-carbon based alternatives.

Mooney: Mitigation and Adaptation

Chris Mooney who wrote The Republican War on Science, has this to say:
Incidentally, let me add that I do not believe that individual virtue, alone, will suffice enough to solve the global warming problem. Without endorsing any particular policy solution, it's clear we're going to have to combine mitigation and adaptation. It's equally clear we will have to foster technological innovation and create incentives for greater energy efficiency, even as we also transition towards more renewable sources. These are mega-scale changes that cannot be effected by any single individual.

Exactly. No silver bullet. Lots of silver BB's.

George Soros talks about energy, politics, goals

George Soros came to Houston to talk about energy and politics. He is pushing the carbon tax idea:
[Soros] sees possibilities for an idea he is pushing — a carbon tax — to become a reality.

Power plants that rely on carbon-based energy that contributes to global warming would have to pay a tax on that energy. They, in turn, would pass those higher operating costs on to consumers in the form of higher utility bills.

If phased in over 15 years, companies would have time to develop alternative fuels to avoid paying the tax.

To break down resistance to the tax, Soros suggested replacing payroll taxes as the funding source for Social Security with the carbon tax revenue.

If you have read my blog for awhile, you will know that I am skeptic of a carbon tax. Taxes are already very high on gasoline. Odds are it will be another source of government income for which there will not be a corresponding reduction in other taxes. There will be massive cheating and might result in energy trading schemes that are not working so well in Europe. On top of that, this would, yet again, mean the rich could pollute while the poor suffer.

Rather than penalize, I would rather incentivize. The tax credits for hybrid cars and solar panels is a great idea. Extend that into tax breaks for alternate energy investments. Fund alternate energy research. Hey. Here's an idea: start Manhattan project for alternate energy research. Stop talking about energy independence, make something happen.

Accused TSU President Removed from Teaching

As I noticed here, an indicted college president was allowed back into the classroom. Now, it seems like the school has bowed to public pressure and removed her from teaching and is pursuing the revocation of her tenure.
Texas Southern University has relieved former President Priscilla Slade of her teaching duties and started the process to revoke her tenure, campus officials said Thursday.

The university's acting president, Bobby Wilson, notified Slade of the decision this week, saying her presence in the classroom poses "an ongoing threat of disrupting the academic process."

Um...OK. Then why in the hell did she get back in the classroom? Here is the thing. If I had done what she did, I would have been fired, arrested and frog-marched out of my place of business.
At most universities, professors with tenure have the implicit promise of a lifetime job. They cannot be dismissed, transferred or demoted, with the exception of extreme misconduct on their part or a financial emergency at the school, thus protecting scholarly work from outside pressures.

Yes. "Outside pressures". I wonder if a felony conviction and jail time constitute "outside pressures"?

Ethical crisis indeed.

Lawmakers rebuke BP executives over missteps

See what happens when Congress gets involved in your fiasco:
BP America's top executives were rebuked by lawmakers for a string of missteps, which preceded a major March oil leak in Alaska, during a hearing Thursday that saw one company official refuse to testify for fear of self-incrimination.

House members seemed dumbfounded that the energy giant had failed to do a common check for pipeline corrosion for several years, even after a draft audit ordered by Alaska recommended the procedure.

"If a company — a very successful company — can't do the basic maintenance needed to keep Prudhoe Bay's oil field operating safely and without interruption, then maybe it shouldn't be operating the pipeline," said Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
"If a government - a very large, bloated government - can't solve a single problem such as poverty, disaster emergency response, or border security, then maybe those in charge shouldn't be in seats of power," said Jim VAT on the popular VitalAccurateThinking blog.

One guy left early:
BP executive Richard Woollam, who ran the company's corrosion, inspection and chemicals group in Alaska in the late 1990s and early 2000s, did not answer questions, citing the Fifth Amendment's protection against self-incrimination.
He should have said "under what provision of the US Constitution does this committee justify calling me here today? I am a busy man."

Really. Isn't Congress just a circus clown act when it comes to these types of things.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Microsoft designs a school system - Sep 7, 2006

Tom Peters talked about a school system like this in his book Re-Imagine!. All I can say is, we need more of this and less of the current school "system".

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Vast Oil Pool Tapped

This indicates to me that there is more undiscovered and untapped oil out there, we just have to find it. This does not release the pressure to find renewable sources as the BB theory of energy independence dictates.

Hurricane models better at predicting

This is a very important story with regards to disaster preparedness. The models still suck, but they are getting better. To me, the strategy should not be to wait until a strike is imminent and plan that way, but to have an adaptive strategy to react to a wide range of natural disasters, including terrorism. I think Wal*Mart likely reacted faster to Katrina and Rita than the Federal Government. A lot can be learned from them.

That being said, I think the National Hurricane center is putting them credibility at risk by overhyping hurricane destructiveness. They constantly overestimate the strength in an effort to get people to evacuate. When the threat is off by 200 miles and the strength is less than predicted, credibility is lost and the "boy cries wolf" factor builds up in people's mind. The public gets tired of hearing doomsday predictions that don't come true. After awhile, they ignore the threat and that is a prescription for disaster.

My advice is to not overhype. Tell me what you know, tell me your margin of error, promote preparedness and adaptation instead of chicken little. Of course, I am not a member of the herd and I'll evacuate 5 times to miss one hurricane. Most are not like me so perhaps the National Hurricane Center is pursuing an effective strategy. We will see when the next hurricane is in the Gulf and pointed straight at Houston. I'll be long gone and I am sure my neighbors will not be.

Ford CEO Leaving Post

Under the heading "About Time", Bill Ford is stepping down from the helm at Ford. As I posted here and here, my criticism of the American auto makers continues. They are dead companies. It would be better to wind down the corporate structure and be absorbed into Honda and Toyota rather than manage one layoff after another.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Windmills Generate Hope, Cash

I would like someone to financially analyze this story and tell me if wind mills are economic, at what price of oil and how long is the break even point. If the story is true, then capitalists will be all over the opportunity.

Nike, Apple Does this Qualify as WOW!?

Nike and Apple team up with a new music and fitness product. Does this meet the Rock Star, WOW! criteria? Maybe, maybe not. If they integrated heart rate data and a cool download to a computer fitness program, maybe. Until then, give it a lukewarm WOW!

Nightmare Mortgages - Yahoo! News

Mara Der Hovanesian writes an article regarding a doomsday scenario in the adjustable rate mortgage market. While it has its strong points, it follows the pattern of premising a predatory business that preys on unknowing, innocent people who will face devastation. Take these two opening paragraphs:
For cash-strapped homeowners, it was a pitch they couldn't refuse: Refinance your mortgage at a bargain rate and cut your payments in half. New home buyers, stretching to afford something in a super-heated market, didn't even need to produce documentation, much less a downpayment.

Those who took the bait are in for a nasty surprise. While many Americans have started to worry about falling home prices, borrowers who jumped into so-called option ARM loans have another, more urgent problem: payments that are about to skyrocket.

Suddenly, almost anyone could afford a home -- or so they thought.
She fails to explain why the homeowners are "cash-strapped" and how they fail to recognize that purchasing a home that is too expensive for their income to support is the true root cause of the problem. Here she gives a hint at financial personal responsibility:
The most diligent home buyers asked enough questions to know that option ARMs can be fraught with risk. But others, caught up in real estate mania, ignored or failed to appreciate the risk.
More victimization and blame:
They [ARM's] also betray such a lack of due diligence on the part of lenders and borrowers that it raises questions of what other problems may be lurking. And most of the pain will be borne by ordinary people, not the lenders, brokers, or financiers who created the problem.
And following the trend of such articles, we have to find and name a specific "victim":

Gordon Burger is among the first wave of option ARM casualties. The 42-year-old police officer from a suburb of Sacramento, Calif., is stuck in a new mortgage that's making him poorer by the month. Burger, a solid earner with clean credit, has bought and sold several houses in the past. In February he got a flyer from a broker advertising an interest rate of 2.2%. It was an unbeatable opportunity, he thought. If he refinanced the mortgage on his $500,000 home into an option ARM, he could save $14,000 in interest payments over three years. Burger quickly pulled the trigger, switching out of his 5.1% fixed-rate loan. "The payment schedule looked like what we talked about, so I just started signing away," says Burger. He didn't read the fine print.

After two months Burger noticed that the minimum payment of $1,697 was actually adding $1,000 to his balance every month. "I'm not making any ground on this house; it's a loss every month," he says. He says he was told by his lender, Minneapolis-based Homecoming Financial, a unit of Residential Capital, the nation's fifth-largest mortgage shop, that he'd have to pay more than $10,000 in prepayment penalties to refinance out of the loan. If he's unhappy, he should take it up with his broker, the bank said. "They know they're selling crap, and they're doing it in a way that's very deceiving," he says. "Unfortunately, I got sucked into it." In a written statement, Residential said it couldn't comment on Burger's loan but that "each mortgage is designed to meet the specific financial needs of a consumer."

The loans certainly meet the needs of banks.

There's no way to camouflage what Harold, a former computer technician who asked BusinessWeek not to publish his last name, is about to face. He's disabled and has one source of income: the $1,600 per month he receives in Social Security disability payments. In September, 2005, Harold refinanced out of a fixed-rate mortgage and into an option ARM for his $150,000 home in Chicago. The minimum monthly payment for the first year is $899, which he can afford. The interest-only payment is $1,329, which he can't. The fully amortized payment is $1,454.

There is no way in hell that Harold should have even been able to afford $899 on $1600 income. No way.

Look folks. The victimism and blame game is just not going to work. Life is all about financial responsibility and doing your own due diligence. If you are not willing to read the fine print, do the math and make your own financial decisions, then I have a very hard time feeling sorry for you. ARM's are not that hard to understand if you take the time and can do basic math.

It is all about understanding and managing risk. No one is going to do that for you. Not your employer, not your bank and not your government. Period. End of Story.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Where’s Mao? Chinese Revise History Books - New York Times

At one time, I thought war between China and the US was inevitable. Now that chance is history
Socialism has been reduced to a single, short chapter in the senior high school history course. Chinese Communism before the economic reform that began in 1979 is covered in a sentence. The text mentions Mao only once — in a chapter on etiquette.

Nearly overnight the country’s most prosperous schools have shelved the Marxist template that had dominated standard history texts since the 1950’s. The changes passed high-level scrutiny, the authors say, and are part of a broader effort to promote a more stable, less violent view of Chinese history that serves today’s economic and political goals.

H/T Tom Peters

We're Rich so We Play

In an article on playing, gaming reveals itself as the playground of our rich society:
Complaints or not, gaming is a part of life for an increasing number of families, a junior version of their parents' digital entertainment lifestyle, which ranges from their BlackBerrys to that giant plasma TV in the den.

"People are better off, so you spend money on discretionary things," said Daniel S. Hamermesh, an economics professor at the University of Texas at Austin. "You've gotten the necessities already."

Not having kids myself, I can hardly comment. My nephews are as close as I can get to the topic and yes, those $40 game boy games are quite expensive. My 12-year-old nephew does not play games all the time as he as acquired a reading habit, which is a good thing. I just hope his younger brother does the same, and soon.

Global Obesity Pandemic

So, if the earth cannot sustain 6 billion plus people, how can this possibly be true:
The World Health Organization says more than 1 billion adults are overweight and 300 million of them are obese

Zimmet, a diabetes expert at Australia's Monash University, said there are now more overweight people in the world than the undernourished, who number about 600 million.

Crash into Lake of Excellence

Even thought this by the European Space Agency's lunar craft was done on purpose, I would not clap when my craft crashed into "The Lake of Excellence." Not only that, the craft was named the SMART-1. How smart was it to crash? I guess SMART enough to hit Excellence. Deming would be so proud!

5 people, 2 pets shot

Five people, 2 Pets shot in Newark.

Yet another tradegy in which pets were also victims. Can you say "Death Penalty"?

Scientists report baldness breakthrough

When I started losing my hair at 19, I always said science would "cure" baldness before I was totally bald. And not a moment too soon, scientists report baldness breakthrough. Faster please.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Be a Rock Star

Over my summer vacation, I picked up Tom Peters' new book Re-Imagine! in which he extols the virtues of becoming a Rock Star. He does not mean literally a musical icon, but a superstar within your field of endeavor. This idea stuck in my head ever since. At first I thought it was ridiculous - putting Rock Star on your business card and all. I thought, it would be much better, more professional and more effective to put something like "Guru", "Maestro" or "Czar" on my new cards. Then I started really thinking about it. Thinking about when I drove to work. Thinking about it while I listened to U2, Bush, and Lynyrd Skynyrd at work. Thinking about it during lunch and while plodding through rote tasks that required minimum attention. Thinking about it while driving home from work. Thinking about it while walking the dog. Always thinking, Thinking, THINKING, THINKING. I started thinking that Guru is overused. Czar sounds autocratic and dictatorial. Maestro sounds conceited and aloof (think European condescension). I have never seen "Rock Star" on anyone's business card. Maybe I will be the first (that is if I have the courage to put it on there without even asking). How to explain my new-found Rock Star obsession? Here is what it means to me:

Individually first, then together.

: Solid, Strong, Larger than Life, Unconquerable, Persistent, Enduring, Able to be Molded into Something Great

Star: Bright, En Fuego (on Fire), Illuminating, Hot while Seriously Cool, Galactic, Universal.

Rock Star together: Exudes Confidence, Excitement, Talent, Accomplishment, Fame, Bold, Brash, Aggressive, Revolutionaries with Attitude, Seriously Cool Dudes doing Seriously Cool Stuff, audacious NO! Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

Via Steven Covey and The 8th Habit, I found this quote (author Marianne Williamson and altered slightly by me):
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our [star]light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child [of the ages]. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There is nothing enlightening about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of [humanity] that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
So is my quest to "Be a Supply Chain Rock Star" misguided? Stupid? Maybe, but that is the fire that has been ignited in my belly courtesy of Tom Peters . Thanks Tom (I think)!

How about this for a new mission statement:

"The Relentless Pursuit of WOW!"
WOW! = Wild, Outrageous, Wonderful
"Be Bold and Passionate in the Relentless Pursuit of WOW!"

Friday, September 01, 2006

Cesar's Work: Pack of Lies?

The New York Times rips Cesar Millan a new orifice on their opinion page today.
Mr. Millan brings his pastiche of animal behaviorism and pop psychology into millions of homes a week. He’s a charming, one-man wrecking ball directed at 40 years of progress in understanding and shaping dog behavior and in developing nonpunitive, reward-based training programs, which have led to seeing each dog as an individual, to understand what motivates it, what frightens it and what its talents and limitations are. Building on strengths and working around and through weaknesses, these trainers and specialists in animal behavior often work wonders with their dogs, but it takes time.

Mr. Millan’s sexism is laughable; his ethology is outdated.
The thing about this editorial is that it really dismisses the great results Cesar gets at rehabilitating problem dogs. He takes death penalty case dogs and turns them around.

Also, I think people mistake the methods Cesar uses as to what should be applied to ever dog. He does not say "don't give your dog affection"; he says "don't give your dog affection until he is in a calm, submissive state." Rules, discipline, boundaries along with exercise is Cesar's formula. My dog is balanced so I give him a lot of affection, just not when he is acting up or acting scared.

As to the sexism bit, I suggest the editorial writer read his book. He devotes some time talking about Mexican machismo and how his wife changed his way of being.

And lastly, the NYTimes follows the standard liberal line that dismisses the difference between men and women. Mark Derr better not read Tom Peters' book Re-Imagine! in which Peters submits that women are not only different than men, but better. Tom, you sexist!

Medical Spending Is Worth It

This study appears to indicate a big return on medical spending - $19,900 a year for each year increase in lifespan. Sounds pretty damn worth it to me.

Long Life is Not in the Genes

The New York Times has a story about longevity and genealogy. As it turns out, the genes are not the determining factor in lifespan.
...recent studies find that genes may not be so important in determining how long someone will live and whether a person will get some diseases — except, perhaps, in some exceptionally long-lived families. That means it is generally impossible to predict how long a person will live based on how long the person’s relatives lived.

...only 3 percent of how long you live compared to the average person can be explained by how long your parents lived.
Who would of thunk it?!?