Sunday, November 23, 2008


Referencing my old post here. I saw a great graphic today through Paul's blog that shows the historical graduation totals of Finance majors vs. Engineering majors. Notice the large shift in the late 1980's.


Should have listened to Peter Schiff

So I'll be honest, until earlier today I had no clue who Peter Schiff was. However, after watching the video below, I can easily make the decision that if I needed an economic/financial opinion, he would be the first one I would go to.

Arthur Laffer and Ben Stein would probably not be those guys. And as for Ben Stein, this video although not a full indicator of his intelligence or knowledge, does make him look a bit bad in hindsight.

Easily the best historical finance related video I have seen thus far.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Moving On

Imt's done. It's finished. Now we can turn around and get back to what we are supposed to be doing. I want to touch on a few points in regards to the mass amount of believers that this election essentially means a turn for socialism. As the most important point of disclosure that I can give you, I voted for Bob Barr. There is a list of reasons I chose to vote for Bob Barr, which we can dive into at another time, but at the least when reading the following just keep that in mind.

Let's start with the Presidency and the non-stop 'historic win' that this election has been categorized with. I agree with the historic, however, I want to remind the readers of the initial blog post I wrote in regards to expectations. My parents moved our family to this country for the purpose of us having better opportunities in this lifetime and a fair shot to achieve our dreams such as our neighbors and friends would have. The US is not perfect by any means, but perfection does not exist in this world, therefore in my view and my opinion the US is the greatest country in the world. That being said, yesterday's election was exactly what this country was about. In my mind, sooner or later, the expectation of someone other than a white male holding the highest position in this country had to happen. We constantly plow into our heads, that diversity and anyone achieving what they wish for is why this country is around. Remember we are mostly immigrants here from around the world, the best compilation of immigrants that are driven, motivated, passionate and fueled with a hunger to better our lives in this generation than from the generation before. Yesterday was simply a wake-up, a quick kick in our tuchus to remind us that this is why we are all here. I congratulate President-elect Barack Obama on achieving that, in today's world we should expect victories like that!

Now, let's move on to the Senate. As it stands right now, it is 56-40 according to CNN. By the looks of the other elections in Oregon, Georgia, Alaska and Minnesota they should all go towards Republicans, however, the race in MN is fairly close to call and may need a recount. Let's just assume its 56-44. I put together a table below of the historical Senate Congressional seats


Party changes made it 54-46, then a resignation made 53-47

Became 54-46 after death of R-Coverdell (GA) and D-Miller (GA) was appointed
51-49 for Democrats after a caucus switch

55451 Independent w/Dems
2 Independents caucus w/Dems
Not Official
So it looks like after the split in the Senate will be about the same as it was during Clinton's first two years. After I write this, there may be a change and MN could have democrat along the numbers to move slightly to 57-43. As long as it doesn't hit 60 I believe everything will be fine. I am strong advocate of checks and balances, in my view so long as there is a balanced and fair way to decide legislation than things should be alright. However, when one party gets an advantage to 60 and passes whatever it wants, then there is a bit of a worry.

I would post the House numbers, but they pretty much mirror what the Senate looks like. I want to point out the 1992 election. We can see right off the bat that Clinton came into office with a 56-44 Democratic edge in the Senate and 258-176 edge in the House. Without a doubt the administration quickly went to work on a fair amount of Democratic agenda. If we remember, Hillary Clinton made a staggering effort to achieve universal coverage via a national health care plan for the US. Although originally the country and administration liked the idea, ultimately due to the conservatives, the AMA and health insurance industry it failed. This was two months prior to the 1994 election. It became a killer for the democratic party in the House (lost 54 seats) and the Senate (lost 8 seats). It showed what democracy was made for. If you don't like the way something is going, you have a right to change it. From there President Clinton worked with a predominantly Republican House and Senate for six years. As far I see it, the 90s turned out to be quite a decent decade.

The way I see this administration shaping up is fairly straight forward. We have a terrible economic situation at hand for the next couple of years. Our government's main focus will be the economy. After that there will be a focus on Iraq and energy independence. I do not believe (and I can be wrong) that after all of the immediate issues that they have to work on, they will be able to at the same time throw together a universal coverage health care plan. I have a hard time seeing exactly where the money for that would come from (we are spending close to a trillion dollars on TARP). Now if they can work out these issues in a fairly bipartisanship matter, than the 2010 elections may allow the democrats to keep control. However, if they decide to move too far to the left on a lot of issues, health care included, then without a doubt they will lose the House and Senate to the Republicans. In my mind, that's great as well! Nothing better than a Democratic executive branch working with a Republican Congress.

I will consent to one thing, taxes will go up. That's inevitable. I believe they will eliminate the Bush tax cuts and go back to the Clinton numbers from the 90's. Take a look at this table:
YearIncome Brackets
First Bracket
Top Bracket
1971-198115 brackets14%70%IRS
1982-198612 brackets12%50%IRS
19875 brackets11%38.5%IRS
1988-19903 brackets15%33%IRS
1991-19923 brackets15%31%IRS
1993-20005 brackets15%39.6%IRS
20015 brackets15%39.1%IRS
20026 brackets10%38.6%IRS
2003-20086 brackets10%35%IRS
Honestly, we are talking about a movement of 3-4% points for the top bracket, which isn't the end of the world. In fact the movement of taxes to a higher level will be irrelevant to innovation and production. Never has a potential entrepreneur decide not to build a business because the tax bracket was too high. Heck, based on that idea, Sweden, Finland, Norway, France, Israel, and Australia would not even have entrepreneurship, but they do and it's as thriving as ever!

If you are familiar with Hauser's Law, then you would know that no matter the amount of different tax levied on individuals, we have consistently had our tax revenue around 19.5% of our GDP. That leads us to a conclusion that the only reasonable way to raise the amount of tax revenue the government has is to focus on raising the GDP. Let's hope this administration does that.

Anyway, I'm not a political consultant or analysts, so a lot of these thoughts although may be my own, may not be right. Time will tell. From my personal opinion, I hope the administration works on the following issues (this isn't a conclusive list):
  • A finite table to leaving Iraq.
  • Tackling energy independence in the following manners: 1) Significant capital expenditures to update our energy grid, 2) Extending federal [wind] credits for more than 1 year at a time, 3) Working with states to encourage them to give additional state level credits to using renewable energy
  • Fix the nation's air traffic control system, it needs an update like our energy grid.
  • Allowing stem cell research and use to become more available.
  • Reworking the immigration system, in particular the H-1B visas, we need the best and brightest in the world in US! That is what built this country.
  • Our primary education system needs help as well. Not sure how much I want the federal government involved in this, but nevertheless the initiatives need to happen. And maybe more organizations like Teach for America are the answer.
That's just a start. At the same time, I hope the Republican party sits down and figures out how they can find some new invigorating candidates that they can be proud of. They also need to start embracing the power of the internet and how useful it can be in fundraising, this was clearly a huge help to President-elect Obama.

I am an eternal optimist. Life is good and life will continue to be good. You choose how you want your life to be, that's the American Dream.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Car Insurance

I know this is a mundane topic, but I came across a company that could help people that drive less than 12,000 miles a year. Its called MileMeter and its purpose is to find you a lower insurance rate based on how many miles you drive. Not sure how it works, but if anyone checks it out or gets a quote please let me know. This is extremely helpful for those of you in cities with good public transport or who live really close to work. I'm intrigued to see how competitive they are and what the parameters are as well.

Difference between Liberals and Conservatives

I finally got around to watching a few of the recently posted TED videos and on the first one I thought this was most relevant during our current political process.

Jonathan Haidt is a psychology professor at UVA. He has been studying positive psychology and moral foundations of politics. This video below shows the results that he has brought forth regarding the difference between Liberals and Conservatives. He lists 5 moral foundations that differ between the two parties:
  1. Harm/Care
  2. Fairness/Reciprocity
  3. Ingroup/Loyalty
  4. Authority/Respect
  5. Purity/Sanctity

Its a great video, please tell me what you think!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Economy on a Magazine Cover

For those of you who read the economist:

Article on Future Economy

Paul Kedrosky has a great article here on what he believes will happen. These are some of his points as stated:
  • We are going through a credit crisis sparked by the subprime meltdown. It is broader than that, however, really the tail end of an orgy of leverage and credit creation dating back at least 15 years
  • The unwinding of all this credit bubble will take longer than most people expect, and the damage will continue to be broader than most expect. Beyond banks and financial institutions, it will include many municipalities, some large-cap tech names reliant on major debt-financed network buildouts, a host of debt-financed non-financial companies, and some sovereign nations. Total cost: Bridgewater's $2.7-trillion looks close enough to me .
  • S&P forward-year earnings forecasts will come down faster than at any time in recent history. We will see 20% average estimate reductions across the board, leading to a further revaluation of the markets. After all, at S&P 1010 we are trading at 19x trailing earnings, and 18x forward, neither of which are inexpensive historically speaking. Admittedly, the above is not the non-financial S&P P/E -- ex- financial and consumer stocks we are more like 14x -- but it is a distinction that will get blurred as we go into this recession.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Michael Bublé

I have been to my fair share of concerts in my short life. I had the privilege of attending in my mind what was not only a concert, but a fantastical evening of entertainment by Michael Bublé. If you have not heard of him, go out there and check out his music. I can best describe it as a young Frank Sinatra. Check out this video:

Or other videos here.

Monday, October 6, 2008

European Banks

In regards to my earlier post about leverage in European banks, this is a quick and more accurate follow-up:

I say more accurate, because its not my own :) Even Iceland has nationalized one of their biggest banks.


I spent my Saturday evening as most of my friends do. We went to a buddies place, watched some fights on TV (Kimbo sucks) and decided to head out on the town. We went to a local lounge, had a couple drinks and decided to split. On our way of walking around McKinney Ave. we found what we thought to be an interesting new Greek cafe on one of the streets. I got excited about it because for some time now we had been looking for some cool cafes to be opened late (this was around midnight) in the area where you could sit, have a beer/coffee and enjoy the night.

And so the adventure began.... When we sat down outside we were greeted by a fairly upbeat waiter. Looking around we noticed about 6-8 other people sitting at tables, probably a glaringly good reason we shouldn't have stayed (that's not a lot of patrons). When we were given the menus, we decided to order some hummus for the two of us to split. The hummus was listed at $7 for an appetizer, probably the highest single amount I have ever seen for hummus, but nevertheless we figured eh, its late and its just something to munch on. The order came with pita as well...well sort of.

About 10 minutes later our order of hummus and pita finally arrived. Lets start with the hummus. It was a small plate, with a very small portion of hummus. Its consistency was shockingly poor. The hummus was dripping! Have you ever had hummus that dripped? That's not hummus!! Hummus consistency should be in between solid and liquid, with a much closer swing to solid, not liquid! You're probably thinking that at least they had pita to dip into this 'hummus'. Wrong! We were given one tortilla! You may be wondering why a tortilla, we did as well, considering this was a Greek cafe, although you probably couldn't tell with all the Latin music blaring. Besides the one tortilla we were given two crackers on top of that. Have you ever in your life tried picking up runny hummus with a cracker? Good luck!

Laughing to ourselves we finished the first round of tortilla and crackers and decided to ask our waiter for additional pieces of 'pita'. To think it could not get any worse, would be a sucker's bet. About 6-8 minutes later our waiter was handed by the chef/owner our additional piece of 'pita'. Now this was one for the ages (I tried taking pictures, but my phone didn't do it justice). We were brought a fully burned, crisp, black tortilla! No, it wasn't toasted, it was BURNED to a CRISP!

Somewhere before the burned tortilla and runny hummus I had already decided not to ever come back to this cafe. BUT just in case I had any doubt, the waiter helped my decision along. Not 5 minutes after bringing us the tortilla, he took a few random pictures of the patrons sitting around and ANNOUNCED that he was off to Aura (a club a couple blocks away) and would be back in a bit! Are you kidding?! Its one thing to leave and have someone else pick up your slack, but to announce you're going to a club and will come back? Sadly we did not stay long enough to see this putz stumble back drunk from the club. We paid our bill and left. I believe the name of the place was Villa N, but we had a hard time finding the name written anywhere.

Look, whenever you open a new business, restaurant, grocery store, dry cleaners, etc. Make some sort of effort to actually have business coming in and coming back. To have a complete disregard of all common sense only shows that you have no respect for your ideas or the individuals trying to help you achieve your ideas and goals. Honestly, EFFORT EFFORT EFFORT!

Friday, October 3, 2008

VP Debate

I tried to get through the entire debate last night, but I could not do it. With about 20 minutes left I thought I would be ok, but it hit me that I just could not take any more of this. The constant jabbing at each other and the administrations, the talk about what they will or more likely will not do once in office. Drove me up the wall. What really bothers me is the constant use of facts by both candidates, some with exact numbers ('voting 94 times this way or another way'). I wish someone stood up there and corrected them every time they were wrong. That would make me feel better about the given candidates character.

I did find an article that checked some of their statements. Check it out here. A quick excerpt (this is the first fact from the article):

PALIN: Said of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama: "94 times he voted to increase taxes or not support a tax reduction."

THE FACTS: The dubious count includes repetitive votes as well as votes to cut taxes for the middle class while raising them on the rich. An analysis by found that 23 of the votes were for measures that would have produced no tax increase at all, seven were in favor of measures that would have lowered taxes for many, 11 would have increased taxes on only those making more than $1 million a year.

Was anyone really impressed last night by what they saw?

Monday, September 29, 2008


A few good reads I stumbled upon today:
  • A visit with Bank of American CEO, Ken Lewis (CNN)
  • Living in a leverage free world (Deal)
  • 10 Things that will change (Kiplinger)
I'm a big fan of point number two in the last article. Enjoy!

Shana Tova for everyone celebrating! Its going to be a great year!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Who's next?...

[updated numbers below]Read a post this morning regarding European banks getting too large to rescue. They talked about the leverage in some of the banks in Europe as compared to the US banks and how in some cases the banks liabilities were close to the size of the entire GDP of the country they were HQ'ed in.

Let's compare, these are the leveraged ratios:

US Investment Banks:

Goldman Sachs: 25x
Morgan Stanley: 32x
Merrill Lynch: 27x

US Commercial Banks:

Bank of America: 10x
Citigroup: 14x
Wells Fargo: 12x
Wachovia: 10x
JP Morgan: 12x

European Banks:
Barclays: 60x
UBS: 46x
Deutsche: 61x
Credit Suisse: 32x

Maybe someone with a better financial background could please explain to me and readers of this blog as to how the European banks will be able to get through this financial situation unscathed. To me its not looking its pretty, especially considering the liabilities of some of those banks comes close to the entire GDP of a country if not outweighing it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Wall Street to Startup

Josh Kopelman is trying to find some people jobs.

Maybe I should have added that in my previous post. Rough economic times are a good time to start a business, if you can make it through this time..then your business will really flourish!

Cycles, Jobs, Finance

This is going to be a bit long, I have a lot built up in my head.

What happened over this past weekend is nothing new. It occurred at the end of the 1980's. It occurred to a much lesser degree at the end of 1990's. In general its happened a few times and made these recessions. The problem is that moving forward, we as a society and country won't learn from our mistakes. We will repeat them again and again. What's crazy is that I don't think there is a single person out there that can tell us the ultimate consequence of all of these bubbles and crashes. We seem to bounce back every time and find a new place to invest dollars and create economic 'stability' for the short term. So in other words this is just another cycle. Sure, this is a simplification, telling someone in banking who has lost their job over this is not going to make them feel all warm and gooey inside.

We are also in another cycle of United States economics. The US over the course of its existence has on six occassions pushed into moves of nationalization or privatization. As it started with airport security in 2001 and followed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in recent weeks, we are in a point of our cycle where our government will nationalize a few of the major businesses thus creating a more socialist view from an outside perspective. Considering we already have a Democratic House and Senate, expect a potential for more moves in this direction with higher taxes. But again, just like previous times its simply a cycle. We will recover, our balance sheets will stabilize, regulations will be put in place and privatization will occur again in the coming years (maybe a decade or two).

If additional regulation is created in Congress, then a tremendous amount of oversight for the financial industry will occur. This for starters will mean less wiggle room, which means less creativity, which in turn allows for less risk. There is going to be a lot of layoffs and downsizing in the financial securities industry to start with. Take a look at the following graph and notice the trend of the annual securities employment in this country:

[courtesy of Paul]

The increase in this field alone in the last 16 years is pushing over 40%. You can see the decrease show in 2003 from the 2000 bubble burst. How far down will it go this time around and for how long? This is also just the securities market, the entire financial industry has become too large of a part of our GDP. To date about 8.3% of our GDP is brought together by finance, this is all-time high, almost a full percentage point about the 1990 levels. Lets for a second imagine that we return to the 1990 levels of finance in our economy, that is essentially suggesting that $120B needs to be redistributed from finance in form of wages and profits into other industries. The gentlemen who wrote the article that I got this information from believes that engineering may be on the rise again. It is well known that hedge funds employ lots of PhDs. Take for example James Simmon's Renaissance Hedge Fund that has 200 employees over a third of whom are PhDs. These guys write the software programs to figure out the best times to buy into companies so they maximize their profit. Its a complex system of algorithms and quantitative mathematics that is put together by individuals with PhDs in Math and Computer Science. Do we really believe that these individuals are going to turn around and get back into basic engineering work.. I have a hard time seeing that. What you will see in the future is young graduates from MIT, CalTech, and GaTech (had to throw the plug) that will not be moved by financial engineering and find work in other facets of industry.

The article misses the point that most of the individuals that have their experience in finance (not to mention their paydays), will not get back into engineering just because thats what their degree is in. Realisitcally we can hope that moving forward more students around the country will pursue engineering as an college major and move the US back into the direction of positive growth of bachelors in engineering, since we have been on a downward slide for a few years now. This in turn will allow us to have a breadth of future IP in this country that is ready to create new technology (hopefully in the CleanTech space!).

I'm going to finish this post off with a quick recap. Finance party is over. Government regulation is back. Expect engineering degrees awarded to rise. Most important though, we are just riding another part of this crazy economic cycle, history will repeat itself in the future :)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I am not my own customer

Here's a problem that I have entailed often and maybe some of you can sympathize with me.

I'll be sitting around one day and think of what I believe to be a good business idea. Lets just pretend its B2C. I will then spend the next few hours or days trying to poke holes in it and massage it into something that I would be a customer of.

Therein lies the problem. I am a really bad customer. I ignore as many advertisements as I can (unless they are humorous!). I tend to do extensive research before making a purchase I am interested in or consult close friends who have expertise in the area, say cars or certain tech products. I have rarely, if ever, clicked on one of those Google advertisement links and will generally comb the internet to find exactly what I am looking for. I have used eBay all of two maybe three times in my life. I am, however, a loyal customer. Believe me, once I have used your services and you were exceptional in the service that you provided, you better believe that I will do what I can in my power to make sure people around me all know about you/your company.

So I tend to end up in one of two holes, either the idea or business is great and I may not use it myself or I will change it up so much to what I think will work and no one else will use it! I guess the question of the day is how in love with your product or idea do you have to be to go after it? Full blown blinding passion? Or more logical execution with a great understanding of the market?

Blog look..

I am going to be messing with the look of this blog for a few days to find one that I like, so bear with me if it bothers you. Also, any comments about the look would be appreciated :)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Obama vs. McCain

I know, I know...politics.

During the election process voters go back and forth amongst each other on why each candidate would be more appropriate to hold the position of President then the other. It's a never ending debate that for the most part has no positive outcome. The realistic nature is that you will vote for who you'll vote for and from there you must accept the fact that the candidate elected is your President for the next four years.

My point here is not related to why one candidate is better than the other, its actually to find something beneficial that each candidate can bring to the table for the business environment (I'm choosing business simply because its in the theme of this blog topic).

Growing up [and still today] I heard countless stories from friends, family, colleagues and random strangers on how so and so was such a great President and because of him we have [fill in the blank]. Some Presidents allowed us to get into this country, other created peace, some a booming economy, whatever it is you can always find a President that did something fantastic or was at least in office while something great happened.

This brings me to my point, I was recently going through a comparison of issues between Obama and McCain. I came across their views regarding Taxing Business. Without a doubt from a corporate perspective, McCain wins in his want of decreasing the corporate tax rate from 35% to 25%. However, Obama had something that I really wanted to mention from the standpoint of a budding entrepreneur:
Exempt investors from the capital gains tax on their investments in small businesses and startups if they made their investment when a small company was valued below a certain threshold. That threshold has yet to be defined.
Now this is clearly more beneficial in the early stages of a business (whereas McCain is more geared to profitable corporations). Lets say you as an Angel are investing $100,000 into a business that is valued at $1M (for argument's sake lets say the threshold is $1M in valuation for your capital gains to be tax exempt). Lets again pretend that in a matter of five years the said company sells for $15M. You've made yourself a tidy $1.5M on a $100K investment, better yet, you pay no taxes on your $1.4M in capital gains! Depending on the state this can be a savings of $300k-$500K (rough estimate). Not to mention there are some states that will allow you to have tax credits or deduction for investing in such early stage deals. Unfortunately Texas and Georgia are not included in those states.

Morale of the story is, if your candidate does not win the election there may always be a benefit to you in one or more the different initiatives the other candidate is trying to push. As always look for niches and work your way hard into them!

Anything in particular that draws your attention to a candidate for one particular reason or another? Lets stick to business topics for the time being...

Saturday, August 30, 2008

My own globalization

[Sorry for the break in posts, I was out of town and forgot to mention that before I left!]

As we all remember Thomas Friedman wrote a fantastic book about globalization and the 'flattening of the world'. Two of the major factors that he touched on were Outsourcing and Offshoring. Recently some friends and I conjured up a few ideas that needed websites to be built. Unfortunately our expertise was limited in building a site that would have all the bells and whistles that we needed. I remembered that over a year ago I saw a mention of a company called oDesk on Techcrunch. oDesk's premise is fairly simple, you enter in what kind of contracting, consulting, or project work you need done and providers bid on your work.

It was a great way to get started! I put together an outline of exactly what I needed (remember, the more detail the better understanding someone will have of what you want them to accomplish). Your next step is to fill out some info about how much per hour or per project you'd like to pay, minimum feedback you require from previous employers, total hours spent on oDesk, etc etc. Withing 24 hours I had 18 applications! The overall total was around 24 or 25, I lost count. The beauty of the site is that you can see previous work, how they were rated by the buyer, tests they have passed, and how much they charged for the work. You reject who you don't want and interview who you do. I set up around eight interviews over Skype and gmail and went through questioning about their work and what I wanted to get accomplished and in what time frame. I have already received four quotes and am waiting on two or three more.

Globalization and technology are a beautiful combination! We are able to provide work to individuals in countries that have a hard time producing their own work at a very large discount to ourselves. In return you [should] get quality work in a timely manner and get your business up and running. oDesk also has a direct competitor in Elance.

If you have a great technology based idea, you really have no excuses left! Go out there and execute!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Ticketmaster & Live Nation

So back in my later years in high school I used to go tons of concerts (or 'shows' as I used to refer to them). I could be seen scouring the net for new shows constantly and probably checking out at least one if not two or three a week. The great thing about most of the bands that I was seeing was that they played at relatively small venues. When I mean small, I mean the place fit maybe 150 people. The great thing about these venues is that it really got you up and close with the band! Another perk was NOT having to pay fees to buy a ticket, you would simply pay a cover or a ticket charge at the door. Keep in mind this is 1999-2001, so buying tickets online other than Ticketmaster was non-existent.

This brings me to my point. I HATE buying tickets online from Ticketmaster, in fact I dislike it so much that I am willing to drive to the venue at odd hours or during working (or to skip school at the time :) to buy the tickets direct from the venue and not have to pay the $8/ticket charge for a $40 ticket. [As a side note, I just looked up Michael Buble tickets in Fort Worth, Texas and what do you know its $10.65/ticket to buy through Ticketmaster.] It also really irritates me that they call the charge a convenience charge! Here's the thing, the internet is not a convenience anymore, it used to be, but now its standard business practice! Why do I have to pay over $20 to Ticketmaster just to buy the tickets online? I realize that venues have contracts with them and that they provide them with the sales tools to fill up their venues, but come on, no one really bothers to go to ticketmaster to find out where their favorite band is playing, do they?! You go directly to the band website, which would be a great place for them to sell tickets independent of Ticketmaster and profit from it, since they are losing so much money on the CD sales.

This whole rant started when I read today that IAC is splitting up their business empire. In the article they mention that Ticketmaster is losing Live Nation as a customer in 2009, yay! Live Nation and Ticketmaster apparently had it all out last year and decided to split. This will definitely hurt Ticketmaster as Live Nation is its biggest client, to the tune of about 15% of its $1B in sales (although they will continute to sell their House of Blues tickets).

I love it! Break down barriers, take down Ticketmaster!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Considering I have lived in Michigan and forgot that there is a word for 'soft drinks' besides coke, the following map made things a lot clearer:pop-soda
[from here]

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

BRIC Countries vs. USA

Well even in the worst of times, the world leading economy is still losing less than their respective BRIC counterparts:


[hat tip to Paul]
[more at Bloomberg]

Phelps Quote of the Day

Apparently some people can get sick of seeing him:
"I got 80 text messages today. One of my friends said to me, 'Dude, how many times a day do I have to see your ugly face?'"
-- Michael Phelps (USA)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Save the world. Eat Kangaroo!

Since we all know of the destruction that cattle cause our world by their methane, although you could make a similar argument for lots of males after a good dinner. Australians have decided that we should eat more kangaroo to save the planet:

"A study claims that farming and consuming more kangaroos instead of cattle and sheep will reduce carbon gas emissions."

They could have just as easily done this.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Although I am personally at odds with magic; part of me really enjoys, another part of me hates because I have a terrible time figuring out exactly how they just did that (this is the engineering side of me)! I will have to say as a big fan of TED, this was a most amazing video on brain magic.

Keith Barry shows us really fascinating ways that our brain tricks us, really impressive!

Oh and Steve Jurvetson makes a guest appearance at the end, must bother him as well because he's a fantastic engineer.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


For those who don't know, this is Sputnik. I figured the name of the blog was appropriate simply because my interests are varied and where is there to get a better view of everything than from space? :)

Expectations are tricky part of our everyday lives. I can think back to multiple times in college, high school, and even elementary and middle school when I would get back graded tests and be disappointed or excited. Now the score that one gets would be relevant to the amount of studying they put into the exam, hence 'what you expect to get'. There were times when I would get back a test with a meager 75 on it and I would think how amazing is the fact that I managed to pass a test when I did not even pick up a book to study for it! There were, however, just as many situations where someone else in the class (or yours truly) would get back an 89 and be furious! Furious, why? Well when you have spent hours upon hours and days upon days studying for an exam and you miss the A by 1 point it can be rather frustrating.

Fast forward many years and we still see this on a daily basis. Take for example public companies announcing their quarterly and yearly reports. It is less relevant whether or not they make a profit as opposed to whether or not the clear their expectations. The best example of this is Exxon Mobil's recent quarterly report. They set yet another record of quarterly profit for a company! $11.68B in ONE QUARTER! That's $1,485.55/second! You would imagine in a world sans wall street this would be impressive, however, its not, the stock went down immediately!

You see, that's not a problem, its necessary for us as a community/society/family/individual to push each other. If we know we are capable of running a mile in less than 8 minutes, then setting a goal of 10 minutes would be an easy hurdle for us to clear. We [should] instead for ourselves put a goal of 7 minutes and work towards it, bettering our performance.

As a newly minted blogger, I am asking that you set your expectation level fairly high for me. This is ironic even for me, because at the beginning of the writing of this post my point was to state at the end that the expectation level be low, but then I would not be able to better myself. I cannot promise on the consistency of my posts, but whenever an idea, a quirky topic or something of interest beckons, then believe me, I will write about it!

Till next time.