Wednesday, October 31, 2007
I'm not really sure why the Fed is cutting rates when we are a couple hundred points shy of an all-time high on the Dow Jones Industrial avg. I thought you were supposed to cut rates when the economy was slowing, and that when the economy started slowing, the stock market went down. Hmmm.
Seems like the Fed is being irresponsible to me and focused more on what their core constituents (banks) want - and less about the long-term welfare of the economy and general public. But what do I know...
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
"Scotty and I [Becker] were discussing the evolution of Halloween on Saturday. It seems - and not that we're complaining - that Halloween has become an excuse for girls to wear something "naughty." we noted that this has resulted in a phenomenon where girls seem to be able to take any costume - and make it "naughty."...For example, we saw three "naughty" referees on Saturday night. we also saw "naughty" pirates. and even, "naughty" Starbucks baristas. how far can this go? I'd like to see someone do some work to really explore how women choose their Halloween costumes. what are they trying to accomplish?"
Well ladies, how do you pick your costumes? I'm a red-blooded American male, so if things are moving towards "naughty," then that works for me.
Let me tell you one person it doesn't work for though, Mr. Joel Stein of the LA Times. He has some serious bones to pick with Halloween here. Umm, Joel, come on dude. Live a little.
Folks, let's hear your comments on this one.
By the way, I think this might be my favorite Halloween costume of all time, Krantz as Tobey McGuire in Seabiscuit.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Just this week I was lit up on the boards by none other than Tucker Callaway. Tucker has a special posting style where he turns some of your biggest strengths into weaknesses. I’m not even sure how he does it really. It’s a Zen thing.
“Orn [Kenny Kellogg] spends more time in the Yoga studio than David Hasselhoff.”
A great Post Board zinger can have you laughing for days. That's why we play Fantasy Football. It's just good times. Thanks for the laugh Tucker.
Harry, what can I say, you never disappoint. He's the man, pure and simple. If you haven't started reading Harry Potter, the Star Wars of the new generation, then you are a lucky person. Don't Fear the Youth! Start reading Harry today.
Chuck Klosterman spilled some ink on Harry Potter in this month's Esquire. Chuck is a pro and writes about 5,000x better than I do, but he wrote an article about something he hasn't read and experienced. Umm, isn't that why we have editors? Come on Chuck, you're better than that.
While you're skimming Chuck's article in Esquire, devote your full time to my friend Matt Belloni's article on Diablo Cody, a woman who worked as a stripper for a year because she was bored with her corporate day job. She knocked out a book after the experience. Cool article. She's also a blogger, and writes Pussy Ranch (no joke on the name).
On to the Wire, what can I say? It's pretty freaking unbelievable. The writers changed the whole focus of the story in Season 2, and still pulled it off. It's a must rent. Beware though, it takes a couple episodes to get into each season. The secret of the show is how well they develop all the characters. You come to really care what happens to them, even the drug dealers and crime bosses. I'm not saying they're likable, you just care. In fact, the Cops and Drug Lords aren't so different...
I'm getting towards the end of Season 3, and I'll give you an update when I finish.
By the way, if you have been debating watching the Wire, you should know that there is a certain element of personal redemption you can find in it. You see, Beth Stevens was not too happy about my John Mayer recs, but she agreed to forgive me because I love the Wire so much. Redemption on earth people...by watching TV. Awesome.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
One thing on the blog - if there is something I'm covering too much or not enough, please let me know. And as Bryan Kenna said, please reply via comments on the blog. Your emails are great but other can't see them and build upon them.
My first job out of school was doing Mergers and Acquisitions for Hambrecht & Quist in 1999. I caught the tech bubble full tilt and a giant merger I worked on, VeriSign & Network Solutions, was announced a few days before the top in the market. I was caught up in the mania as much as everyone and I still remember the analyst bullpen conversations around trading stocks. Every once in a while, a VP or Managing Director would drop by the bullpen to see what stock they should be buying. It was an amazing time.
So I watched the housing market explode with a sense that "I've seen this before." I'm not smart enough to call bottoms or tops, but I do have a great deal of experience working with debt, from my time at Lighthouse, and I can recognize a debt fueled implosion with the best of them. Well that is what we're seeing right now folks. The SF Chronicle details some pretty horrific foreclosure stats from the 3rd quarter.
The thing about debt, which housing was dependent on because so many people were putting 0%-10% down instead of the standard 20%, is that it accelerates the pain. When you have an asset that has decreased in value, but you own it free and clear, you don't have to sell. When you only own a portion of that asset, but owe payments, which you can't make, you have to sell...at fire sale prices. The sales, at rock bottom prices, are just beginning.
I bring this up because 1) I feel sorry for the folks who are going through this, and 2) The problems in housing are going to affect all of us. If you can't pay your mortgage, you can't shop for the new car, the new tv, mattress or whatever other discretionary item you've been buying the last five years.
From most of our perspectives, it's going to be a slow deterioration. For others, it's going to get nasty. I've been through one of these, in Tech, so I know how it feels. Let's try to maintain some empathy and help out those who are going through it.
Friday, October 26, 2007
The second Dutch in my life is Dutch Evans, a new blog written by my man Greg Yeadon. He's one of the funniest guys from Kellogg and I'll never forget his "gunner" routine, firing an imaginary gun turret from the back row when people were "contributing" a little too much in class.
Here's a shot of Greg and me, just so you know how dapper he can be.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
I followed her down the aisle, noticed the middle seat was open next to her and went for it. We struck up a nice conversation a few minutes later and this girl told me that she was a singer but sang, "mellow music." For most people, that's not as cool as Rock'N'Roll, but you, dear reader, know that I like mellow music. Now, this whole conversation had gone without me asking her name. I'm smooth like that. I asked her name and she responded Sia. Never heard of her, bummer.
Anywhoo, we talked about the book she was reading, Tipping Point by Gladwell, my life @ Kellogg, and later on we got to talking about traveling. It turns out she was coming back from South by Southwest, an epic music festival in Austin, Texas that I had the pleasure of attending this last year. SXSW is a great showcase event for upcoming bands and the fact that she played it piqued my interest...and then I remembered this profile of her in the SF Chronicle.
It turns out that Sia sings in a band I really like, called Zero 7, but her solo career had almost ended before it got started. Despite her Zero 7 success her music label had dropped her and things weren't looking good...until the folks from Six Feet Under decided to use her song, Breathe Me in the final scene of the final episode. It's a pretty awesome song and it adds a lot to the moment. Just one catch, no one told Sia.
A funny thing happened after the show aired. Her CD's started flying off the shelves of record stores across the world. One problem though, because she had been dropped, there were no more cd's in production. There was a worldwide shortage of Sia.
And that is where she was when we talked on that Southwest flight. She had a four way record label bidding war going for her next album and she was flying to Australia to cut another Zero 7 album in about a month. Things had turned around for her and it couldn't have happened to a nicer person. She was even cool enough to leave me some tickets when she played in Chicago a few weeks later.
Sia is playing at the Fillmore tonight. I'd be there in a second but I have the flu. Sia is as nice as can be, she's very cute and she has some serious pipes. My friend Meghan Coles is going, shouldn't you?
P.S. Here is the Six Feet Under clip with the song. It's a lot cooler if you are a fan of the show.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Apologies on the lack of posts this week folks. Unfortunately, I caught the flu bug and have been out of it a bit. The only saving grace is that I've watched 11 episodes of The Wire in the last 24 hours, and let me tell you, it is amazing. I can't stress this enough. Start renting now.
Supposedly this New Yorker profile of David Simon, one of the creators of the Wire is really awesome. I haven't read it yet, but I plan to.
Finally, I thought I would bring Merrill Lynch's monster write-down to your attention. The firm is writing down about $8 billion, with a "B", of mortgage related bonds. Here is the Wall Street Journal's coverage. Merrill's existing exposure is still about $12B -$15B on these type of debt instruments, depending on whose numbers you use. Kudos to Merrill for aggressively writing down these instruments, but there is probably much more to go. At the same time, there are a lot of finance companies with huge exposure in this area that aren't being proactive. Expect write-downs up the wazoo later in the year.
No matter how you slice it, credit markets and aggressive lending have powered the U.S. economy for a very long time. It's going to be tough to sustain growth while finance companies pay for their past sins and the credit markets return to more normal behavior.
Monday, October 22, 2007
We made a bee-line for the pool table and ordered a few drinks. It's not easy to feel macho when the girl you are with orders a darker beer than you, but I think I pulled it off. As we struggled through a game of pool, Jessica started hob-knobbing with Todd & Julie, a couple waiting to play us. Who knew that Todd was a bonafide pool shark and Julie could take care of business despite claiming she hadn't played in 20 years? More importantly, they were a total blast.
A few beers, an indulgence in a feel good shot, and we were ready for Ian. Todd staked out a good spot and we spent the show digging the music, making fun of a scary, stalker-ish dude right in front of Ian and having an awesome time. After making a few adjustments to the settings on her camera, very impressive to a point and click guy like me (that's what she said), Jess took some cool photos.
|Ian Ball Night|
Here's a YouTube clip of Ian playing a portion of one of Gomez's best songs, In Our Gun at Cafe du Nord.
It's not mind-blowing, but was pretty cool when we were there. Here's version with better production value.
We had a great time. Ian was great but I think it was our new friends, Todd & Julie, who really made the evening. Thanks guys. See you at a show coming soon. You're the Cat! (Todd's go to pump up phrase for the evening.)
Here's some bonus Gomez for reading through a long post.
Gomez - Hamoa Beach (live)
Ping One Down
Bring It On - Funny Video from early Gomez days. Brings out the British humor.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
I bring this up because something interesting is beginning on Twitter. For those of you who don't know, Twitter is a 1 to Many texting service that allows you to send one text status update, and all of your friends who follow your Twitter stream are updated instantly. It's kind of like real-time and short hand blogging. It's a pretty interesting phenomena and you should check it out.
Well, I've just received my second unsolicited Twitter "Add" by a band I've never heard of. Twitter let's you know who is following you, so when I saw someone I didn't know, I checked them out. Not a bad way to get exposure for your music. In this soon to be ubiquitous WiFi enabled world we live in, it can't be too long before I can stream these unknown band's music over my phone.
Once again, the creativity of bands is driving adoption of new social Internet services.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Out of the angry aether came one (yes 1) constructive comment and it was by none other than Mr. Bryan Kenna. As Kenna so abley pointed out, Mayer's best album is Try! (I really wished he hadn't used the excalamtion point for macho-ness purposes).
It's a pretty awesome album with a lot of blues on it and Mayer's guitar talent really comes out. Dude, the guy can play guitar. He's so good at guitar, that he can do it with his eyes closed. :)
I've enjoyed every minute of this blogging experience and I want to give something back. I'm pointing you in the direction of the best blog on the Internet not named Kenny Kellogg.
His faux-profile can be found here. My favorite blog post of the year is probably his "Some Dude in B-School Wants to Shadow Me, from the other day. Fake Steve has a book coming out soon called Options, which makes fun of the Silicon Valley Stock Option irregularities which have hurt the industry and its biggest players.
Just start reading...today. There are a couple more posts below to get you started. As Fake Steve would say, Namaste.
Faceberg Declares War
Worried About Larry Ellison
New iBook Reader
Thursday, October 18, 2007
I've been called a wimp, people have told me they've lost respect for me, and I've even received emails asking if that was a joke.
Well guess what people, that was no joke. And furthermore, I stand by my man John Mayer. But I must redeem myself to you, loving reader...immediately. So to counteract that sensitivity, I'm highlighting the Silversun Pickups in a bonus post. This band rocks and has a female lead singer who compliments the guitar heavy music really well. Check them out.
My timing is good, (isn't it always?) because they are playing the Fillmore Friday night. Last I checked tickets were sold out but Craigslist is doing a brisk business in SSPUs (what the kids are calling them according to Ananda) tix. I've done the dirty work and here is the search for you.
I did the dirty work, cause I can't go and I'm hoping one of you can. If you do, and want to write an Epic Guest Review, give me a shout. For all you Out-of-Towners, or New-In-Towners, the Fillmore is a fantastic place to see a show and it's steeped in history. See here.
Kudos to Bryan Kenna and Laura Kreitler for bringing the Pickups to my attention back in the day.
Here are my favorite SSPU songs.
Silversun Pickups - Rusted Wheel
Silversun Pickups - Lazy Eye
Silversun Pickups - Three Seed
I like John Mayer...his music that is.
I feel a lot better now. I mean, if the Bob's can like Michael Bolton, can't I like John Mayer?
By the way, that was the most macho picture of John Mayer I could find, an artistic rendering of him on the cover of an album. Not a super macho dude. In an effort to increase his macho quotient, I'm enclosing a picture of his girlfriend.
Ok, I think we'll end this post on that note. In closing, John Mayer is sensitive, but his music is good. Check it out.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Paul Kedrosky points out that foreigners were big sellers in August.
You can find the full report here. Go to the August column, look halfway down and you see the -$85M on line 21. That is the net foreign outflows from the U.S. That means foreigners sold $85B worth of our securities. Now August was a terrible month with the mortgage market getting hit but instead of investors and banks taking their medicine, they tried to arrange bullsh*t bailouts like these: Big Banks Push $100 Billion Plan To Avert Crunch
Now, $85B in the grand scheme of things is nothing. It's not even a drop in the bucket, but it's an indication of where things could go.
Folks, a currency that is getting crushed and bankers begging for bailouts is not a recipe for continued financial health.
Actually I want to tell you about a cool book I just finished, called Soon I Will Be Invincible.
It's written by a first time author who is a grad student at CAL right now and it's a total spoof, satire, whatever you want to call it on the Comic Book and Super Hero worlds. Imagine a book about the Fantastic 4, except one of the 4 has a PR agent, another has a cosmetic line, and yet another is a spokesman for General Electric. It's a funny, wacky book and a quick read.
Where did I find such a great book? Well Rakestraw Books, in Danville of course. Nicest place and the guy behind the counter recommended it to me.
I'm not giving Soon I Will Be Invincible, "Best Book Ever" status but it's a good entertaining read that is easy on the brain.
Monday, October 15, 2007
Fred takes pictures of just about everything. I've highlighted a lot of his Bridge work here because they are some of my favorites...
...But his landscapes are incredible too.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
It's ok though. Riley's a freshman quarterback and we are CAL after all. We all knew secretly, deep down inside that the undefeated run couldn't continue. Hey, we got to be #2 in the country for a little while, and those fantasies about being #1, pretty cool. Kind of like dating Elle McPherson or something. Oh well, it's ok.
I'm here to cheer us up though.
First Catharsis. We need a dose of Eddie and the epic performance of Daughter (the It's Ok version). Watch this, I promise you'll feel better.
I was right, wasn't I? Probably the best 3 minutes of your week.
Next, we need to feel better about ourselves. We're CAL gosh darn it. Watch this.
I feel better already. Kudos to you, Kevin Riley for leading us down the field twice in the final 4 minutes. You deserved better. We deserved better. But hey, we're the science nerds and literary geniuses, not the QB who get's to date Elle McPherson.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Quick game of Word Association:
Me: CAL Berkeley
You: Football Powerhouse, Oski, Physics, Computer Science, Hippies, Telegraph, Scott Orn's Alma mater, Jason Kidd, Haas
They're all right, but the newest association will be Education Innovator. You see, the kind, peace loving people at Berkeley are slowly turning the academic world on its head. They're offering video courses over the Internet. How cool is that?
You get the full Berkeley classroom experience...and it's free. Somewhere in China, Africa, Bosnia or Clear Lake, a teen age kid is getting her first Berkeley experience. So cool. This makes me a proud Bear.
Thanks for sending this in from sunny Minnesota, Mr. Greg Yeadon.
Friday, October 12, 2007
It's always a little refreshing to smell the water on the concrete and to break out your favorite rain jacket. Well guess what? I'm going to recommend a jacket to you but it's not a piece of clothing (which can be bought at Sports Basement), but one of my favorite bands, My Morning Jacket.
MMJ is a pretty epic rock band introduced to me by Mr. Bryan Kenna at Kellogg. They're from Louisville and they just plain rock. However, Jim James, the lead singer, also has a sensitive side (recurring theme in my blog: sensitive music) and they cut one of the best acoustic albums I've ever heard. It's called Acoustic Citsuoca and is for sale at iTunes. It's 5 wonderful songs that are as mellow as you can get. It's headlined by Golden but Sooner is really good and Bermuda Highway is in contention for MMJ's best song.
Acoustic Citsuoca is the exact kind of jacket you should break out on the first rainy day of the year.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Goodman knows his stuff, and tonight declared The Wire as his favorite show...ever. That's as in forever. Let's just say I'll be renting Season 1 very soon. Another highlight was the brother of a Wire cast member asking a question. That was our brush with stardom tonight, and it felt alright.
On a personal note, my intramural hoops team recently suffered a series of crushing defeats at the JCC (some by 60 points and that is with a running clock). I played so badly that I can barely remember the high school hoops hero I never quite was but who was 2nd in the EBAL in free throw shooting.
It was nice to return triumphantly back to the JCC. I'm so bad at hoops that I now define triumphant as a great night with friends listening to a cool, knowledgeable dude, and putting down two sugar cookies. Two points or two cookies and 7 friends? I'll take the cookies and friends everyday.
I'm charged with making sure my man Wilson leads a happy, healthy life. As you can see with those shorts, he's a tough guy, just like his old man.
Kids are cool. They are just are. Like Ron Bergundy says, "That's just Science, you can't argue with that." So I was happy to hear that the Wilcox's are having a baby. Tim was a notorious skater/punk guy as a teenager in Simi Valley, so I asked if the kid would grow up like his old man. Like a good father, Tim's going to let him go his own way, but he did say he would mix in a few PJ posters in the kids room. Kudos Tim. May I recommend these epic pics?
Pearl Jam, like Godfathers, are pretty cool.