Thursday, March 13, 2008

Military history in food

This video is an entire course in Military history, combined with international cooking. I've got to talk to the Dean to see if we can get this added to the cirriculm.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I had the privilege to listen to listen to a presentation by David M. Walker, Comptroller General of the United States on his last day in office. He took the opportunity to go over a presentation that he has given in various forums over the past few months to explain how his generation, the baby boomers, have not been good stewards of our economy. He is concerned that, if things don't change, we will not be able to sustain our economy or our current standard of living. If his predictions are correct, the baby boomers will be the first generation in American History to leave the economy in worse condition than they found it.

The graph below is is one of the first in his discussion of trends in federal spending.

As you go through the brief, keep in mind
  • We are paying compounded interest on our growing debt
  • We are a rich nation today because nations around the world believe that we are a good economic risk, and spend lots of money in the U.S.
  • The U.S. economy would be in grave danger if the markets were to flee the U.S. dollar because we were no longer a safe investment
One last slide from his brief to help make the point.

In this slide Walker makes the point that the U.S. spending is already exceeding revenue, and if no action is taken by 2040, we will not have enough revenue to cover some of our mandatory obligations (like Medicare & Medicade) and discretionary spending such as National Defense and Diplomacy . Sad to say, if our economy gets to the 2040 scenario, the average American will have more to worry about than medical coverage and national defense.

Mr Walker presented a compelling argument for fiscal reform and restraint, I encourage everyone to check out his briefings posted on the GAO site and watch as he transitions into the private sector.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Did Enron Kill Innovation in America?

I was fortunate enough to sit through a presentation of a venture capitalist, I can't say who or what company because we operate on the principle of non attribution (you get better info that way). She had several extremely interesting points that I will attempt to weave together to get a little closer to the answer...

Up until 2003, IPO's were among the best ways for a company to acquire the funding needed to further a good idea. Granted there were several bad ideas that went public on the stock exchange but they were quickly weeded out by market forces. The bottom line is that IPO's are a great, market driven way for companies to raise money.

Sarbanes Oxley has increased auditing burden placed on public companies and discourages IPOs for companies less than 200 Million dollars in annual revenue because of the huge cost. To comply with the SOX (AKA Sarbanes Oxley), companies must hire a staff of auditors, accountants and attorneys to ensure their continued compliance with the new laws designed to prevent fraud in corporate America.

Congress mixed up market exuberance with fraud when they created SOX. Market exuberance is a natural psychological element of a market. Simply stated; when people get excited about an idea they throw their money at it. If the idea is really good it becomes self sustaining, making its investors a nice profit. If its not so good it falls short, costing the investors their stake in the company.
  • This is good!
  • This is Capitalism!
  • This is what our economy is built on!

Fraud is when people with malice of forethought enter into an agreement with the intention of bilking their counterparts in the agreement out of their stake. This was the case with Enron, MCI and others in the early 00's.
  • This is Fraud!
  • This is Criminal Behavior!
  • Protection from fraud is one of the most important roles a Government can have in a market based economy!

SOX was put in place in response to Corporate Fraud to protect investors from the massive criminal behavior observed in the Enron scandal. Unfortunately, Congress didn't take into consideration the second order effect that it would have on the American entrepreneur. We should re-look at SOX and ask our selves these questions:
  • Is SOX making it to expensive for startups to access public funds?
  • Is the reduced availability of venture capital hindering inventors and entrepreneurs?
  • Did Enron start a chain reaction that will stifle a major American Innovation Engine?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

More on Traffic

The guys over at cognitive daily noticed that even under perfect conditions where everyone is trying to avoid traffic jams that traffic jams occur.

So remind me again why we're not required to telecommute more? It seems that the human race is just a little to uncoordinated to handle driving without traffic jams.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

China's Competitive Advantage

Check out the Chinese Scaffolding:

Chinese Welding Mask:

Chinese Hard Hat:

Chinese Particle Free Breathing:

One thing we forget when we talk about how scary China is, the Chinese people are all just trying to make a living for their families. The above are some pictures from a Chinese shipyard, they obviously want to get home to their families and friends (or they would not be doing the weird things in the picture to protect themselves) just like we do here in the U.S. . Unfortunately, the workers in China are forced to take the same types of risks that our forefathers took for us over the past centuries.

Building a country is hard work, it takes great sacrifice by all of a country's citizens. I just pray that the Chinese Government is working as hard as its people to build the Civilization that its citizens deserve.

Solution for frustrating Bureaucracy

When I first moved back here to the Washington area I hypothesized that one of the reasons that our Government was so illogical was that our law makers are forced to drive on the hairball of a road system that surrounds the Washington D.C. area. It's not like California, where everything is laid out on a grid, and the shortest distance between to points is a straight line. Here goat paths, that have been in existence for centuries, are paved over and now make up the roadways. I can't tell you how many times I have been on a road, could see my destination and the road leading up to the destination and still had to drive 10 miles to get there.

I wonder if we straightened out the roads in Washington DC if our bureaucracy would become more straight forward and transparent?!?