Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Dear Steve

Dear Steve, You don't look so hot, we're worried about you. What gives?
Your Amigo, Sanj

P.S. I think I'm finally going to buy one of your lapto

How sad would it be to lose a great innovator like SJ. As much as I can't stand Apple's smug marketing and arrogant posturing, the products are pretty ground breaking and the world will be a much worse place without Steve's hand. Anyways all that to say that Steve isn't looking so hot these days and today he looked like a corpse.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Tilt shift

How cool is this tilt shift lens effect?

Shrink this train from Stefan Gilgen on Vimeo.

Beached from Keith Loutit on Vimeo.

Bathtub III from Keith Loutit on Vimeo.

Using Spore to Guide the Economy

Many people know about the Sims game and recently Spore where you build a world and it evolves based on how you tweak the 'DNA' and genetic pool of your simulation. Why can't you apply methodology the same to economic simulations? Here's my idea, the government and private sector combined should set up a massive simulation of people, economies and stimulus programs that run in much faster than real time and allow the general public to try out simulations of different economic programs. Google/Microsoft/Oracle/Amazon/Apple/IBM/OSF should chip in resources to build/connect to this cloud simulation and it should be open to supercomputers as well to plug in simulation results. Additionally, people can volunteer their free CPU cycles to try random parameters like the folding protein and SETI screensavers do.

It should be run like a contest and every couple of weeks, the top 1% of simulation results should be analyzed by a pool of really smart people. As the economy is a moving target, this should be an ongoing effort with base assumptions adjusted based on the changing reality.

There's almost no chance that this can be done in time to change what's going on now but there's no reason why a few spreadsheets can't be thrown out there with tweakable parameters to let pundits work on. I am pretty convinced that the crowd can figure out economic algorithms to ease or solve many of the economic pressures at hand.

Just a thought, much better than handing out free money and buying deadbeat mortgages with my tax dollars IMHO.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

I figured it out

I finally figured out who Sarah Palin`s debate coach was.

Must have taken years to learn how to use so many words without saying anything. Obviously Palin`s got this act wired but she could use some medication for all that eye twitching.

Monday, October 06, 2008

McCain/Palin are kidding right?

First off let me tell you that as much as I dislike GWB, it's not because he's a republican -it's because he's an idiot. Second, I don't think that Obama has much of a platform other than not being GWB. Having said that, McPalin scares the shit out of me.

McPalin reminds me of those wind up chattering teeth that just keep knocking out robotic nonsense like a drunken Monty Python skit. I can't understand how this guy who's voted vastly in favor of GWB policies can consider himself the voice of change. How the fuck is this old fossil a maverick? Why doesn't he call himself a speed skater or a bowler because that's just about as relevant and maybe a little less humorous. He's kidding right? And meanwhile Rome is burning and Sarah is busy giving shout outs to third graders and throwing aw-shucks winks like she's selling corn and kisses at a state fair hot dog stand. WHAT THE FUCK, DO THEY REALLY THINK AMERICANS ARE THAT STUPID??? On second thought that's a good question, after all they did vote GWB in twice right? You guys are gonna vote in an executive to fix your global problems right? Did that somebody on the world stage just recently get their first passport? Didn't you learn the first time what happens when you put provincial imbeciles in charge of global affairs?

I'm afraid that Obama can't handle the crisis either but I'm infinitely more petrified of having a weaker/older GWB-esque relic in charge with a backwoods soccer mom running wing. In either case, we're fucked for a while and Chindia have a great chance to trample all over us with middle eastern sovereign funds bankrolling them.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Mark to Market, the big shaft

Lets say you had a bar of gold that's worth a thousand dollars today but all of a sudden nobody was trading gold for a few months. Is your gold worth zero? Not really, it's worth something close to a thousand dollars when people are buying again.

Here's the rub with banks and mortgage companies. Nobody these days wants to buy any mortgage, good or bad so they are forced to value the whole lot of them at zero even if only a few percentage are defaulting. The problem is that by valuing the mortgages that they are already holding at zero even though they will mostly be paid, the banks have 10 times less money to loan because of the way they're structured with leverage.

So 500 billion dollars of mostly good mortgages are marked down to zero even though most of them are worth most of their full value and thus 5 trillion dollars of bank liquidity is gone instantly. Thus explains why overnight so many banks collapsed.

How stupid is it that such a simple rule fucked up the entire dynamics of the economy and how stupid of the people who could do something about it a year ago didn't start until this week.

It's called Mark to Market regulations and you'll be hearing about it for a long time.

Greed and the American Public

I've seen a lot of comments from viewers on CNBC, CNN & FOX about how they reject the notion of a wholesale bank bailout. When you look at the reasoning behind why the bailout was defeated on Monday, it seems to stem from the perception that it's simply bailing out the greed and excess on Wall street. What most people seem to forget is that consumers share a great deal of the blame as well and they (we) should recognize that. What do I mean by that? Well, how many people in North America bought huge houses when interest rates were microscopic? How many people took 3 vacations a year on their credit cards? How many people leased multiple massive cars because they seemed so cheap? How many people ran up their credit cards? It goes on, the government lowered interest rates and both political parties encouraged people to buy houses with nothing down. Deregulation allowed banks to offer interest only 40 year mortgages to people who could barely afford it even in good times. The greedy system provided greedy people with unlimited nearly free toys and when the party ended the greedy people blamed the greedy system for victimizing them.

We're all going to eat shit for a while because credit has dried up even for responsible people and companies and without credit the whole economy goes into slow motion and sometimes seizes. I've heard many people talk about the 'old fashion' way of doing business without credit. That's a load of shit because without responsible credit this society wouldn't exist and without irresponsible credit, it wouldn't have grown as fast as it did. If your supplier doesn't give you 30 days credit and you don't give your clients 30 day credit, your business is going to suffer. If the concept of car lease/purchase financing is gone, we're all driving 8 year old rust buckets and a few million people will be out of work and UPS ceases to exist. Oh yeah, without credit your municipality can never fix anything major that breaks until you all go drop off a bags of cash at city hall.

I'm all for responsible credit and tighter regulations and I think that Warren Buffet and Mark Cuban are both right in their thinking that if you let investors buy in alongside the government into the credit pool that's currently seized up, almost everybody will come out better for it.

Until it un-seizes, we're all in big shit. Conserve your cash because you'll need it to survive or you'll find some great buying opportunities soon if things go well.