Thursday, December 30, 2010

Income Inequality and the 'Superstar Effect' -

I found this really neat article via Alex Bain Favorites.

"But broader forces are also at play. Nearly 30 years ago, Sherwin Rosen, an economist from the University of Chicago, proposed an elegant theory to explain the general pattern. In an article entitled "The Economics of Superstars," he argued that technological changes would allow the best performers in a given field to serve a bigger market and thus reap a greater share of its revenue. But this would also reduce the spoils available to the less gifted in the business.

The reasoning fits smoothly into the income dynamics of the music industry, which has been shaken by many technological disruptions since the 1980s. First, MTV put music on television. Then Napster took it to the Internet. Apple allowed fans to buy single songs and take them with them. Each of these breakthroughs allowed the very top acts to reach a larger fan base, and thus command a larger audience and a bigger share of concert revenue."

Matt Belloni with Robert Redford

I have a few rules in life and one of them is that anytime a friend of mine interviews Robert Redford, I highlight it. Tip of the cap to Matt Belloni. My favorite line:

"When I was a kid, nobody told me I was good-looking. I wish they had. I would’ve had a better time."

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The National Parks: America's Best Idea: History Episode 1 Page 1 | PBS

The National Parks: America's Best Idea: History Episode 1 Page 1 | PBS

I really love Yellowstone Park, it's one of my favorite places in the world, and its formation serves as the main plot driver of this incredible episode of Ken Burns' documentary on the National Parks.

Bonus points for the terrific feature on John Muir as well. Can't reccomend this episode (and series) enough.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Good Show - Radiolab

The Good Show - Radiolab

I've been training for a half marathon in February and had a long, 11 mile run last weekend. I passed a lot of the time listening to this excellent podcast. One of my favorites of the year. There are three acts and each a  is terrific in their its own way.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Why 2011 isn’t 1995 for Apple — Scobleizer

"In 1995 Microsoft had a HUGE marketshare lead with DOS. That meant it had a huge army of developers who didn't want to switch over to Apple's system, which they saw as very closed and inflexible. I remember developers coming into the consumer electronics store I helped run in the 1980s and they'd complain bitterly about Apple's policies (Apple was far less flexible back then than it is today and forced developers to fit into a "look and feel" set of guidelines).

But I look at who is making money. Back in 1995 developers were mostly making money from DOS. Remember, this caused WordPerfect and Borland to make bad bets. They bet on DOS for too long, while Bill Gates went and built some of the first and best Macintosh apps. The lesson, though, doesn't pass from 1995 to 2011. Today where are most of the developers making their money? iOS (according to Sephora, Starbucks, OpenTable, eBay, and many other developers). So, Android has to convince developers to switch, or do both platforms at same time. That's quite different."

Saturday, December 25, 2010

around the tree

[daily dose of imagery]

around the tree || Canon5D2/Sigma12-24@12 | 2s | f7.1 | ISO200
Merry Christmas!

Sent with Reeder

Happy Holidays!

via Fuel for Friends

Here's a peaceful little song that captures the mood of all the holidays this time of year.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Love Adorned | Contax T3

Sent with Reeder

Ben's Friends Holiday Video

Greatest Holiday Video Ever!!! - Ben's Friends patient support groups thanks the members and moderators! Thanks so much Shalon!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Could Facebook Save California?

Fascinating. I never thought of this. I'm sure home prices in nice parts of SF and the Peninsula will go crazy too. 

"To make things much more realistic and recent, in 2006 California received $11.3b in personal tax receipts, $4.3b more than the previous tax year. A main difference? One company: Google. The newly-public company's executives and rank & file employees cashed out stock & options at a furious rate, accounting for much of the increment.

At the time, Google's public market capitalization grew from $70b to $100b. The lower end is approximately the current secondary market capitalization of Facebook, the current IPO market object d'ardor. There are more California companies coming public, however, almost certainly including Zynga, Linkedin, et al., which would add materially to this total market capitalization of newly public companies seeing option exercises.

All else being equal, I'm guessing California will report a surprise spike in 2011 and 2012 personal tax receipts. It is over-leveraged to personal income, of course, and, within that, to stock  option exercises and capital gains. But those will all jump much higher in the coming 24 months, and seems to have escaped most analysts' scrutiny as they project California flat-lining into being the next Greece."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

@scottorn, 12/21/10 7:45 PM

scottorn (@scottorn)
12/21/10 7:45 PM
I bought one -> "@am1019: The 20 Wine Cask: the ultimate gift for the wine-lover in your life!"

The Eclipse from San Francisco

Cool photo of the Eclipse by my friend Julie. This is what it looked like from San Francisco. :)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Today I Will Smile and Feel Good

Shalon at Feel Good Gowns - Hospital Gowns with Style sent these socks to John Stamler before he ran the NYC Marathon for Ben's Friends. I posted it on the Ben's Friends blog but thought it should be here too. 

JibJab's 2010 Year in Review

JibJab's 2010 Year in Review is so well done. I'm lucky enough to work with the folks there so I get to see everything that goes into these. It's incredible amount of work, but they always do it with a smile. Talk about loving your job, everyone at JibJab truly does.

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Danny MacAskill

via Kedrosky

The music is really good and the landscapes are fantastic.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

What a great year for Ben’s Friends

via Haley Gallant, part of the Ben's Friends Team!

What a great year for Ben’s Friends

2010 has been an amazing year for Ben’s Friends Patient Communities.
We started 16 new communities:
and we tripled are membership to over 6,700.
Help us build even more communities in 2011 by simply visiting the Amazon store ( you do your normal shopping. A portion of your purchase will go to launching more communities.

Top 17 Albums of 2010: #14 The Wooden Birds

The Wooden Birds come in at #14 for 2010 in the Kenny Kellogg's Albums of the Year race. Beth Stevens introduced me to them early in the year and I've really enjoyed them. There is not much of their stuff out their on the Internet though so I'm embedding stuff from here and there. Unfortunately, the song Hailey is really hard to find despite being my favorite song on the record. Oh well, you'll just have to buy the album.

 Sugar by Koerschgen

Seven Seventeen - Wooden Birds

Hailey - Wooden Birds

Wishing for More Work on my iPad

The use case of regularly doing nontrivial work in Microsoft Office on a touchscreen, slate-type tablet is… optimistic" - 

I disagree with Marco. I wish I could do more work on my iPad. I need a better solution to the typing problem though. Right now I either peck on the screen with a couple fingers or I bust out the physical keyboard which takes time, I don't always have it, and most inconveniently, I have to prop up the iPad just the right way and at just the right distance. Sometimes it's worth it, other times it doesn't.

Btw - I typed this blog post on my IPad while on an airplane. I have two memos I need to write but I can't stand the thought of pecking through a whole memo and the plane seat Is too cramped for the keyboard. 

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Friday, December 17, 2010

Top 17 Albums of 2010: #15 Futurebirds

Brian Kenna over at TwoNiner turned me onto the Futurebirds and I've been listening to them constantly the last few months. Hampton's Lullaby is my 15th best album of the year. Here are my three favorite songs, but the album is great for a complete listening to.

Band of the Day (7.30.10) Futurebirds - "Johnny Utah" by NewBandDay

Futurebirds - Battle for Rome by frontporchmusings

Ski Chalet - Futurebirds

Word Lens

Mind blowing 

This is just flat out hold your iPhone running Word Lens up to some text in, say, Spanish, and you'll automatically see it translated into English.

Money well spent.

Lisanti Quarterly

Money well spent.

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

New Song from Ben Ottewell of Gomez

One of my favorite groups, one of my favorite voices. Ben Ottewell of Gomez is coming out with a solo album. This song Lightbulbs is the first release.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Seth's Blog: High margins, Groupon and the magic basket for price differentiators

One of the best Seth Godin blog posts of the year. The whole thing is incredibly insightful. I'm just sampling a quick passage on Priceline that blew my mind.

Seth's Blog: High margins, Groupon and the magic basket for price differentiators

"Priceline was a pioneer in figuring out how to isolate one customer type from another. The reason the original Priceline was so incredibly difficult to use (with blind reverse auctions, etc.) was that they wanted it that way. Anyone who was willing to through that hassle and anxiety to save $100 bucks for a ticket on Delta was clearly not someone Delta was going to have an easy time selling a regular ticket to. In other words, Jay Walker had figured out how to create a second type of air travel. One for cheapskates. The alternative to Priceline was a bus ticket or no travel at all... And Delta was fine with offloading excess seats to them, because they didn't have to worry about alienating their core customer."

Monday, December 13, 2010

I Don't Know What to Make of This...

...but it's really funny in a demented way (plus I think the movie guys did this themselves)

Facebook Disconnect

Saw Facebook Disconnect on TechCrunch. Pretty interesting, it let's you block Facebook from tracking you around the Internet. I'm going to try it out and see what happens. I wonder if my Ad Targeting inside of Facebook will get really bad? Either way, I think it's great that people will be able to make an informed choice about whether they want their data to be collected.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Bay Bridge

Hegs' tumblr

Bay Bridge

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God & The Internet via Mark Lisanti

via Mark Lisanti

"God will never give you more Internet than you can handle."

Top 17 Albums of 2010: 17 - Drive By Truckers & 16 - Notorious XX

I've been inspired by Bryan Kenna's Top Album countdown at TwoNiner so I'm going to do my own countdown. I listed my favorite albums of the year and came up with 17 so I'm counting down the The Top 17. Kind of random, but we strive to be different here at Kenny Kellogg. One of the nice things about doing this in Kenna's footsteps is that he's made some of the playlists already! So I'll be asking you to click through to his site, which you should be following anyways. :)

One more thing, I'm going to link to Amazon's store for all the albums that are available. If you buy something through this link (it's really easy to buy Amazon MP3's), then I'll donate the proceeds from affiliate sales to Ben's Friends. By the way, if you missed out on our fundraiser, we raised $7,300, pretty awesome. If you missed the fundraiser and your feeling good about the year and want to kick in a little cash, it would really help. Drop me a line!

#17 - Drive By Truckers - Big To Do - Kenna turned me onto the Truckers a few years ago. My favorite songs on the album are "You Got Another" with is sensitive and "Santa Fe" which is just plain cool. Here is Kenna's Truckers playlist which I fully endorse. My Truckers highlight this year came when John Hamilton and I went to their concert and at the end, they played their classic, Let There Be Rock. John turned to me and said, "I came to the concert mostly just to see this song." He was smart to do so, because it rocked.

#16 -Notorious XX - a mashup between Biggy and the XX. It's pretty freaking amazing and you can find the whole album here on Soundcloud. This is a completely independent fan of both Biggy & the XX and he put this together in his own time. It's one of the cooler Internet phenomenas in 2010. The music is terrific (language is for adults only).

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Chill Music (December 10, 2010)

Things got away from me this week and I didn't have a chance to put together a Chill Music mix. Here are two links to albums I enjoyed this year, both suggested by Bryan Kenna. He also reviewed the albums on the links. Good stuff from TwoNiner on Tumblr.

Drive By Truckers: The Big To Do

The FutureBirds: Hampton's Lullaby

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Zach Galifianakis at the Purple Onion

Absolutely loved this comedy video of Zach Galifianakis at the Purple Onion. Lot's of his stand-up along with little skits. Warning, you have to really like his comedy or I think it will be a little too raw.

Special Delivery from PaperWheel

I bought some holiday cards from PaperWheel Letterpress Stationary the other day, and when the packaged arrived, I got a nice surprise. PaperWheel included some personal stationary with my name on it! So nice of them! Definitely check out their online store. They have really creative designs and some really appeal to tech nerds and nerdets.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Bond Short

I usually don't call much attention to my stock portfolio but wanted to share a recent move. First, you can follow all of my trades and my performance on Covestor. I've been lucky in recent years and have returned about 70% since March 2008 while the stock market is at -10%.

I've been watching the Bond market for a long time because I think eventually all the money printing that the Fed is doing is going to hurt us. Eventually, I think Foreigners will get tired of buying our bonds, knowing principal value of those bonds will be devalued by the inflation the Fed is trying to generate. Once they realize that, foreigners will stop buying bonds (this has already started to happen) and bond prices will fall to reflect the reduced appetite. When bond prices fall, the implied interest rate on bonds rises. The Fed is fighting this though by buying bonds themselves. The Fed is very powerful in financial markets and will be able to sustain buying bonds for a long time. Therefore, betting on falling bond prices will likely take a very long time to play out.

Today I stuck my toe in the water and bought a tiny amount of TBF, a short bond fund that has no leverage (TBT has leverage but the leverage chews up your principal if you are not immediately correct). It's a very small amount, designed to get myself to pay even closer attention to the bond market. Now I have a little stake in the game and will pay more attention. Just wanted to get this on your radar screen too.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

How Pac Man's ghosts decide what to do

Alex's "favorites"
How Pac Man's ghosts decide what to do

I found this fascinating. A game I have loved my whole life. Seeing the internals of how the ghosts act is really cool. 

The next step is understanding exactly how the ghosts attempt to reach their target tiles. The ghosts' AI is very simple and short-sighted, which makes the complex behavior of the ghosts even more impressive. Ghosts only ever plan one step into the future as they move about the maze. Whenever a ghost enters a new tile, it looks ahead to the next tile that it will reach, and makes a decision about which direction it will turn when it gets there. These decisions have one very important restriction, which is that ghosts may never choose to reverse their direction of travel. That is, a ghost cannot enter a tile from the left side and then decide to reverse direction and move back to the left. The implication of this restriction is that whenever a ghost enters a tile with only two exits, it will always continue in the same direction.

However, there is one exception to this rule, which is that whenever ghosts change from Chase or Scatter to any other mode, they are forced to reverse direction as soon as they enter the next tile. This forced instruction will overwrite whatever decision the ghosts had previously made about the direction to move when they reach that tile. This effectively acts as a notifier to the player that the ghosts have changed modes, since it is the only time a ghost can possibly reverse direction. Note that when the ghosts leave Frightened mode they do not change direction, but this particular switch is already obvious due to the ghosts reverting to their regular colors from the dark blue of Frightened. So then, the 1/60-of-a-second Scatter mode on every level after the first will cause all the ghosts to reverse their direction of travel, even though their target effectively remains the same. This forced direction-reversal instruction is also applied to any ghosts still inside the ghost house, so a ghost that hasn't yet entered the maze by the time the first mode switch occurs will exit the ghost house with a "reverse direction as soon as you can" instruction already pending. This causes them to move left as usual for a very short time, but they will almost immediately reverse direction and go to the right instead.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Julian Assange and the Computer Conspiracy; “To destroy this invisible government” « zunguzungu

Via Alex Bain Favorites

There are some things that really concern me about wikileaks, mostly the military personnel safety issues, but below is what I like about wikileaks. Every corrupt politician and business person should have to worry whether the action they are contemplating will be the one that surfaces on Wikileaks. The beauty of the Internet is that once it's there, it's searchable. People become accountable whether they want to or not. That's good.

"This is however, not where Assange's reasoning leads him. He decides, instead, that the most effective way to attack this kind of organization would be to make "leaks" a fundamental part of the conspiracy's  information environment. Which is why the point is not that particular leaks are specifically effective. Wikileaks does not leak something like the "Collateral Murder" video as a way of putting an end to that particular military tactic; that would be to target a specific leg of the hydra even as it grows two more. Instead, the idea is that increasing the porousness of the conspiracy's information system will impede its functioning, that the conspiracy will turn against itself in self-defense, clamping down on its own information flows in ways that will then impede its own cognitive function. You destroy the conspiracy, in other words, by making it so paranoid of itself that it can no longer conspire:"

Friday, December 3, 2010

Paul Graham on Software

via Paul Graham of Y Combinator

"In 1938 Buckminster Fuller coined the term ephemeralization to describe the increasing tendency of physical machinery to be replaced by what we would now call software. The reason tablets are going to take over the world is not (just) that Steve Jobs and Co are industrial design wizards, but because they have this force behind them. The iPhone and the iPad have effectively drilled a hole that will allow ephemeralization to flow into a lot of new areas. No one who has studied the history of technology would want to underestimate the power of that force."

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Google & Groupon

I really liked James Siminoff's post on the benefits of a Groupon & Google merger.

"Between Android, Google Maps, AdmobAdwords, etc., Google has the best suite of advertiser tools for the local business.  But their penetration into that market has so far been lacking.  And where they do have penetration a lot of it is through middle men companies like Yodle, which is not at all in their best interest.

So if by buying Groupon, Google is able to do even a $1 billion in additional sales to local businesses of either the Groupon product or their other suite of services (which would not be crazy) and because of their very low cost on that revenue they are able to do $500 million to the bottom line then the Groupon deal is worth $12.5 billion in market cap (Google’s current P/E is 25)."

Note: I also think there is a nice Google Checkout play here. Groupon is highly transactional and is a great beach head for getting massive amounts of consumers to sign up for Google Checkout. Google Checkout has struggled because there were few natural tie-ins into Google's other businesses. There was nothing I needed to buy from Google so badly that I would tolerate signing up for Google Checkout. Groupon is to Google Checkout what eBay was for PayPal. This problem is solved for Google now and opens a lot of doors in online payments.