Thursday, July 29, 2010

Zach & Steve

Katie told me to watch this. I did and it's amazing.

New Blog: I Live Here - San Francisco

Awesome new blog I stumbled upon through a facebook friend's rec (Trey - I think). It's called I Live Here: SF and has terrific photography paired with cool real life essays about how people featured came to San Francisco. These are normal everyday people so their stories are great and the photo's are fantastic. Check it out!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Clapping Along

Loved this little anecdote from Buster Olney's ESPN Baseball column on Tuesday. It made me smile.

"There was another really cool moment after Matt Garza's no-hitter on Monday. As Garza and the Rays were hugging each other right after the no-hitter was complete, the cameras flashed to the Detroit dugout, where Justin Verlander was standing at the front railing, watching the celebration. And Verlander -- who knows what it takes to throw a no-hitter, and knows what it means to throw a no-hitter -- was clapping, with a small smile on his face."

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mark Lisanti's Mad Men Power Rankings

Mark Lisanti is back with his typically great Mad Men Power Rankings. Sweet new logo too!

My favorite little quote:

"Pete Campbell’s Expense Report (Partial)

*Whores (easily impressed), $300 (charge to Jai Alai account)
*Whores (fighting), $50 (charge to Sugarberry Ham account)
*Whores (male, discreet), $1,000 (charge to Lucky Strike account)  "

Not Good for Gold

Awesome presentation from Goldmach Sachs on the impending economic slowdown in the 2nd Half of 2010 via Paul Kedrosky. Normally these presentations aren't worth a lot because they are always way too optimistic. However, this one is sober and points out some great data points (like the housing market is still a disaster).
Second Half Slowdown

If you've been reading me for a while, you know I've been long term bullish on Gold. Well, this presentation makes the case for Deflation quite convincingly, which is bad for Gold. The true definition of Deflation is less dollars in circulation, which pushes down prices. However, the Press and Finance Community use the term Defalation to describe falling prices, whether it's driven by fewer dollars in circulation (which is not the case) or a monstrous debt overhang (which we have).

Deflation shouldn't be bad, it just means that people who have saved money, have much stronger purchasing power. However, the US is a heavily indebted country and Deflation makes the cost of servicing debt much higher. For example, your mortgage payment is a fixed dollar amount, call it $5k/month. If a dollar is worth much more, and harder to make because your wages are under pressure like everything else in Deflation, then coming up with that $5k every month get's harder and more expensive. Policy Makers are scared stiff by Deflation because that means less discretionary spending and eventually debt defaults when the cost of servicing that debt becomes too burdensome.

Personally, I'm fine with Defltion because I've been saving my cash and my student loan debt is coming down quickly. However, Deflation is bad for Gold because generally the price will come down, like most things affected by Deflation. My entire bet on the Gold sector has been because I've believed that the Fed will print dollars at a crazy rate to avoid Deflation. I've been right for a while but a lot of data like the presentation above is surfacing that contradicts that viewpoint. Jeremy Grantham, an investment guru I read and respect recently threw in the inflation towel and is going with deflation.

If you've invested in Gold you should keep tabs on the battle between the Fed's printing press and the deflationary effects of the slowing economy that Goldman predicts. I'll be watching closely and will share any moves I make. Right now, I'm still hanging in there on Gold because I believe the Fed will print.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Tardiness on Flowing Data

Flowing Data has become one of my favorite blogs recently after I was tipped off to it by my man Dave Eichler. The blog is really good at presenting cool graphics that convey neato stats and science things. It's a graphics heavy blog that makes for easy and interesting consumption.

The post I want to share with you is titled Tardiness Solves Statistics Theorems below and the anecdote comes from my alma mater, UC Berkeley.

"One day in 1939, Berkeley doctoral candidate George Dantzig arrived late for a statistics class taught by Jerzy Neyman. He copied down the two problems on the blackboard and turned them in a few days later, apologizing for the delay — he’d found them unusually difficult. Distracted, Neyman told him to leave his homework on the desk.
On a Sunday morning six weeks later, Neyman banged on Dantzig’s door. The problems that Dantzig had assumed were homework were actually unproved statistical theorems that Neyman had been discussing with the class — and Dantzig had proved both of them. Both were eventually published, with Dantzig as coauthor."

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Via Papilicious

Cool graphic that illustrates one of the main points in Cognitive Surplus, a book I'm reading right now. The amount of TV that people in the U.S. watch is astronomical. Especially when compared to what I believe is one of mankind's greatest achievements, building Wikipedia and organizing the information in the world. Makes you wonder what we'll truly be capable of in 10 years when the world is online, software and hardware is better, and people start to realize how valuable these online resources really are.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I Want This for Christmas

via Papilicious. This drone is ridiculous.

P.S. Possibly the coolest music on a product intro video I've ever heard.

Monday, July 19, 2010

This Was Me...

...last Friday and I'm going to bike a lot more now. I always forget how much I like it. Hit me up if you want to ride with me.

pic via File Magazine.

Omar Samra at Ted Cairo

My buddy from London Business School, Omar Samra, has become a world famous mountain climber since graduation. I met Omar the quarter I studied abroad from Kellogg. He was a such a positive guy and you could see the gleam in his eyes that would guide his journey to great things. At the time, he was consumed by the idea of being the first Egyptian to scale Everest.

You can see his talk here, unfortunately, it's in another language, but I asked Omar for a transcript. I'll post it if I can get it.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Happy Sunny Sunday

There is something about the beat and the bass line in this song that always get's me going. Perfect for a sunny day in SF.

Kenny Kellogg on Twitter

Hegarty suggested that I start a Twitter notification for everytime I post something on so I obliged. The idea is to help people remember to check the blog in case they forget. No guilt if you forget. I'm here everyday posting away, but we'd love to have you. Most of my best material comes from ideas and comments from my friends. I hope you'll contribute!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Hathaway on Gold and the Dollar

The Tocqueville Gold Fund has been an excellent performer for me. I've owned it for almost 10 years and in that time it's up about 25% a year. This is staggering performance, especially when the S&P 500 (major stock benchmark) has returned -0.19% in that same time. I always read the annual letter to Shareholders by John Hathaway, the fund manager, because he is a very clear and respected thinker. This passage below seemed a little extreme to me, but I thought I would pass it on as a way to show what could be possible. It's clear to me that politicians will take the easy way out and try to inflate away debt, as Hathaway predicts. However, I don't think the entire Western economic model will crumble. However, it's worth a few thoughts as to how bad things could get, just so you are prepared.

Also, please remember that Gold is insanely volatile. While it has gone up 4x in 10 years, it's been a wild ride and you should not allocate a big % of your portfolio to it, unless you share Hathaway's conviction and his investing acumen.

John Hathaway: "We believe that the viability of the economic model of the modern democratic state is in serious jeopardy if there are finite limits imposed by markets on deficit finance. What is the alternative to tax and spend? We expect that disoriented politicians will soon gather under the banner of austerity. Of course anyone with a memory will not take such calls seriously. However, the bandwagon for belt tightening is likely to further damage the consumer psyche and strengthen the forces of deflation. This all leads, in our opinion, to the end of the dollar based reserve system for international trade and commerce. It could be only a matter of time before the dollar is sacrificed to the exigencies of domestic political pressure. This sacrifice would set the stage for a period of powerful inflation and further discredit for political leadership, financial institutions, and even social conventions. It is not too late to position gold, in our opinion."

Friday, July 16, 2010

"Never Give Up"

A post on Kati's personal blog titled "Never Give Up". She's a moderator on She felt compelled to write this because a young woman joined the network last night and said that she had given up hope and had stopped schooling and doing everything. She was down, very down. Kati wrote this to show her there is still hope and what a wonderful life you can lead.

I hope you read the whole thing so you can see what an amazing person she is. I hope you can apply Kati's story to your own life.

Friday Chill Music (July 16, 2010)

A few weeks back I put out a bulletin looking for the playlists from old Sunday Morning Mixes. As a refresher, every year I make a mix of sensitive music that can be used for Hangovers or Makeouts. Sunday Morning, as the mixes are called, have a good little audience and people always seem pleased when I give them the new ones. A few years back I switched computers and lost all the old mixes, but Scotty answered my bulletin and gave me the old playlists. I was able to reconstruct them and I'll be posting them every once in a while.

First up is Sunday Morning 7, probably published around 2006 but I don't really know. Here's the mix mostly intact, but I can't find the epic cover of Don't Be Shy by Eddie Vedder and an acoustic version of Here I Go Again that is equally awesome. Just know that those are probably my two favorite songs on the mix. :)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Writing Papers for Your Peers

I'm in the middle of reading Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirky. It's really good so you might as well go out and buy it (try it through the link below. All income I earn off of these type of Amazon links will be donated to More on the book later though.

For now, I'm linking to a Salon interview I found via Alex Bain's Favorites. There are lot's of amazing insights (that's why I'm saying buy the book), but one comment on the power of peer review really stood out for me. In high school or undergrad at CAL, when I was writing a paper, I would do my best, but my definition of "best" usually meant "best grade". I was writing for my teacher and trying to check all the appropriate boxes. I later realized that I was gaming the system at the expense of my true understanding of a subject.

As I got to business school at Kellogg, I realized that grades meant less and started writing for idea exploration and for an audience that consisted of my friends/classmates and me. This drastically changed the way I thought and learned, and that shift is one of the reasons I write this blog, it keeps me in the same mode -- learning everyday.

In the comment below, Shirky talks about how he tries to make his students write for each other and the broader Internet, and how he hopefully get's them to shift their learning objectives at a much younger age than I was able to shift at. I wish I would have understood this at a younger age.

"CS: What I mean is that what I wrote at Yale was for an audience of a single person, my professor, and that it was intended to convince him that I knew what I was talking about so he would give me a good grade, rather than being intended to communicate something to him that would convince them to change him mind, or trying to give him a framework for thinking about something. In a way, writing a college paper in its current structure is almost custom-designed to crush in the student the idea of writing as a communicative act, because it feels like a long, highly structured interoffice memo rather than an address to the world.

I'll tell you two things I've done here at NYU with the writing my students do for me. One, I assign them write for each other. So they think, "My peers are going to read this and also my professor is going to read this." You'd think they'd be more concerned about me reading it, but the quality goes up when they know their friends are going to read it.

The other thing I do, with some of their stuff, is publish it online. I took a whole bunch of papers by my students from a class we did on the effect of the Internet on the 2008 Presidential election, and I just put them in a big folder and put them online. People's reaction to this was: "Oh, I may actually be communicating something; I'd better get it together here."

Reblog: "iPad Useful for Ataxians"

Cool review by Kati on the new iPad. She's a moderator on Living With Ataxia. I published her partial review a few weeks back so thought I would publish her thoughts after using it for a while.

"One thing both Proloquo2go and my Lightwriter are missing are an ability to upload your own sound files which would be useful for Voice Banking.  when I first started struggling with my speech I recorded Inca’s (her dog) commands in case I ever lost my speech completely, with the iPad I was able to use an app called ‘Tap Speak’,  you record by either speaking into the iPad (has built in Mic)  or playing/uploading a sound file and you can record your voice for prosperity or your kids/pets." - Kati, A Moderator on Living With Ataxia

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Does Soccer Have a Scoring Problem?

Bain had a thoughtful comment on an essay in the Wall Street Journal titled Soccer's Scoring Problem.

"Great essay from an econ prof about randomness in sports. I’d never thought of sports this way before, but it’s true that basketball and tennis have so much scoring that an underdog victory isn’t worth waiting for, and hockey/soccer have so little scoring that a single blown call or brief burst of good fortune usually determines the outcome.

The author posits that baseball and football toe the randomness line perfectly, and I agree."
There are a few certainties in my life when it comes to my friends and their expertises. Schweifler is never wrong about efficiency (same with Barrett) and value oriented buying, Hegarty knows everything about beverages, Addy has never been wrong in trivia, ever,  Kenna knows sensitive tunes, Walmsley knows value investing and sunday brunch, Ziser knows t-shirts and hip things, Hamilton knows alternative bands that I should be checking out, and Alex Bain knows statistics. Like really knows statistics.
So I read Bain's comment on the Soccer scoring problem and how so few goals makes soccer results too random, and I nodded my head and moved on. But then something was bugging me. We all know how scarce goals are in soccer, so I appreciate the scoring chances (shots on goal). In fact, I find shots on goal almost as exciting as a real goal. Furthermore, it seems like the team with the most scoring chances usually wins. Now, I have no idea if this is true and I did some Google searches and couldn't find anything online drawing a direct correlation between # of shots & probability of winning.  However, if you assume that goals occur at a fairly constant % of shots on goal (big assumption), then soccer might not be as random as you thought. I looked at the World Cup Final results and the Dutch had 14 Shots and the Spanish had 21 shots. Again assuming the goals are a fairly constant % of shots, then it makes sense that the Spanish would win because they had 50% more shots. Take more shots and you're likely to win. Sunday's result wasn't random at all.
Bain & Others, what do you think of this logic? I've used the results from 1 game to validate what I'm saying so it's not like I'm making an argument based in Stats, but it seems to make sense to me. Maybe someone out there with better Google skills than me can find a mathematical analysis of this very problem. I'd love to read it.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

This is Going to Start Happening More Often

A brand talking directly to a person. It's authentic, novel and it doesn't hurt that the one person has a monster following on the Web.

"I didn’t grow up in a June Cleever household"

"I’ll admit now that I didn’t grow up in a June Cleever household.  My mom owned her own business with employees and big ambitions so I never had any expectations that parents should always and only be thinking about their kids.  On the other hand, she picked me up from practice every evening and when I was sick, she would come home for lunch to make me soup.  Now that I am a working adult, I can just imagine her announcing to her business partners in the middle of a busy day - whoops gotta go make soup." -- Stuart Roseman via Bijan

I wouldn't want the June Cleever mom either. My mom built an awesome business called Elegant Clutter while she (and my dad) raised us. She employed over 50 people, helped them take a lot of pride in their own work and raise their own family because of Elegant Clutter's flexible hours and policies. The whole time my brother and I were watching and learning, not just about how to run a business, but how to lead a complete life where you can take pride in your work, build something lasting and raise a family on the income it generates. I wouldn't trade that experience for the world.

Love you Mom!

Monday, July 12, 2010 up to 15 Networks

Another proud moment on the patient to patient support sites I'm involved in. Our complete list of communities can be found here.

Some more very exciting announcements coming soon too!

Amazing (if you're a sports fan)

Selling Your Credit Rating

Bonus financial nerd reading today because it's a little slow at Kenny K Headquarters, what with Summer vacation and all.

Long, but interesting post by Bronte Capital on the bond insurers who were basically selling their credit rating in the name of bond guarantees. Folks like MBIA looked to have a wonderful business model. They guaranteed a bond rating on a bond in return for large fees. The thought was that with some savvy analysis, they could identify the bond offerings that were destined to default and avoid guaranteeing them. Of course they would miss some, but they could diversify that risk away if they guaranteed a lot of bonds. Both true, but the gentleman from Bronte makes the case (convincingly) that they stopped doing the analysis and then were hit by the unexpected whammy of fraud in the mortgage market. The firm is still alive but on its last legs. The article is worth a read. I found it riveting, but I'm a finance nerd.

Comic Sans

In case you missed it, the Cleveland Cavaliers owner sent out a statement the night Lebron left. While he had some points, crazy public rants at midnight are never a good idea, especially if they are done in Comic Sans font.

The quote below is from an awesome McSweeney's column about Comic Sans. via Fillup.

"While Gotham is at the science fair, I’m banging the prom queen behind the woodshop. While Avenir is practicing the clarinet, I’m shredding “Reign In Blood” on my double-necked Stratocaster. While Univers is refilling his allergy prescriptions, I’m racing my tricked-out, nitrous-laden Honda Civic against Tokyo gangsters who’ll kill me if I don’t cross the finish line first. I am a sans serif Superman and my only kryptonite is pretentious buzzkills like you."
-- From Timothy McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: I’m Comic Sans, Asshole.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

This Might Be Me Tonight

Three birthday parties in one night! This might be me around midnight. via Daily Dose of Imagery.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Friday Chill Music (July 9, 2010)

While catching up on vacation email this week I was doing my usual music listening on I realized that I've been using this excellent Internet music service for about a year to publish my mixes and have never given it a shout out. Well here it is!

8Tracks is the best for compiling and playing epic music mixes and then publishing them. A really nice feature is that once you are done listening to the current mix, it rolls you over to another mix with many of the same types of music. The result is that I listen to 8tracks for hours and I discover a ton of good music.

This week I published my short list of favorites off of 8tracks. You can find my favorites by clicking on my profile and then click the "Starred" icon. I don't use the favorite button as much as I should, but I'll do it more often so you can see what I'm really digging.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Anthony Bourdain: Kitchen Confidential

Thanks to Taylor for the rec and for turning me on to his tv show, No Reservations, too.

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly (updated edition) Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Brought back so many memories of working in restaurants. Loved this book and I'll never eat seafood on a Monday again.Scott

View all my reviews >>

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Kedrosky, Tennis & Investing

Epic post by Paul Kedrosky using Tennis as a metaphor for investing. Actually, he never says it but I think that is the connection he is getting at. Anyways, his post is visual and too hard to paraphrase, so just go read it so you can see the pictures.

Here is a nice quote though:

"Look once again at the picture of Center Court from this year’s final. See anything like what you saw during Borg/McEnroe? No, not at all. As most tennis fans know well, the game of tennis, even on grass, has been transformed by technology in recent years, with a “power baseline” game becoming dominant. Players like Rafael Nadal wallop the ball from the baseline, hitting unreturnable shots (“winners”) from parts of the court where players like Connors, Ashe, Borg and McEnroe would never have imagined it possible."

The serve and volley game of the 70's & early 80's are the Nifty Fifty of investing in the 70's & 80's (50 stocks that supposedly never would go down, but of course did just that). The point is that like Tennis, things in investing change. And then they chance again, we just don't know which way. Many of those Nifty Fifty stocks bounced back in the late 80's & 90's (note I just picked the Nifty Fifty because it is a semi-famous example in investing of something that can't miss, but does).

My bet is that something in Tennis (and investing today) changes. Golf responded to the kind of technological advancement that Tennis has seen with longer courses. Maybe Tennis needs to change the parameters of the court, making it longer so the degree of difficulty on baseline shots increases. Computer trading is changing the way the stock market trades and prices in information, making it more difficult to understand what the market is saying. Monetary stimulus from the government is changing the relationships between different kinds of bonds and the market too. Something will change and throw the new world we live in out of whack again. The hard part of investing is seeing it before (or at least while) it happens.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Pearl Jam's Oceans Initiative

Cool move by Pearl Jam dedicating a part of their home page to Ocean Conservation Efforts. They even released their new video for Amongst the Waves on the page so the page is sure to index well and the cause will get a lot of Google attention. For what it's worth, this is one of my favorite songs off the new album so it's worth checking out musically and from a cause perspective.

Pearl Jam Oceans from Pearl Jam on Vimeo.

P.S. Here is the original video for Oceans, one of my favorite PJ songs ever.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Getting a Job

One of the pleasures of my day job is that I get to connect my smart, talented and driven friends to portfolio companies, which are desperately looking for these exact people. It's a match made in heaven for the company & friend and I get to read the fan mail from both sides:

"Thanks for introducing me to XYZ Corp. Awesome people, great business, but do you really think I have a shot?" - Kenny K Friend

"Scott, really appreciate the candidate you sent us. We love her. Do you really think we could land her?" - Portfolio Corp Management

It's fun for me and benefits both sides which is why I love to do it. If you read this blog and are looking, let me know. After that, read this awesome post by Derek Sivers on How to Get Hired. After I read it, I realized that in addition to being the playbook for getting a new job, it would work well for finding a Girlfriend/Boyfriend, New Client and probably even buying a house. He gives such great advice.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Sports Basement's New Community Page

Sports Basement has a new awesome community page called the Basement Buzz. If you're like me and live in San Francisco, you probably buy all your sporting goods from Sports Basement. There is something wonderful about the tone of the store. You feel like you are finding little gems all over the store, yet it's a big box store so everything you could ever want is there. And of course, you can't beat the scenery at their Presidio store. It's an anchor for everyone active along Chrissy Field.

My favorite part of the Basement Buzz is the Store Events Calendar. Sports Basement has a bunch of cool promotions and speakers. Seeing the schedule is really helpful for catching these events. Sports Basement is one of my favorite stores, and even if you don't live in SF, you should check it out because they ship across the country and a lot of their content is still applicable to you.