Thursday, June 03, 2004

Thursday, May 27, 2004

I guess I'm a freethinker....

I just saw this definition of a Freethinker, and thought it applicable:

"Freethinkers believe that 'Affairs of human beings should be governed not by faith in the supernatural but by a reliance on reason and evidence adduced from the natural world.'"

Friday, April 30, 2004

Spender vs. Spender

As Cato says, this fall's election choice is between Bush's big-spending record versus Kerry's big spending promises. Here's a list of public spending promises.

Also, check out one description of Kerry in this article: Kerry has "mastered the art of giving rousing stump speeches that say little by using vacuous statements, such as "we need a real deal that stands up to the powerful interests."" Hilarious and a very sad indictment of the political process at the same time.

Spender vs. Spender

Monday, March 15, 2004

I'm on a role....

Thomas Jefferson wrote that the U.S. Constitution gave Congress the power to criminally punish “treason, counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States, piracies, and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations, and no other crimes whatsoever.”

Yes, this is today's 3rd quote from an old, dead guy, but with good reason: these people appreciated the philosophical underpinnings of proposed legislation and governance. They also understood their role in building an impermanent form of government.

A tip of the hat to my favorite blogger-gone-mainstream, Radley Balko:,2933,113861,00.html

I guess the offshoring argument is at least 300 yrs. old......

"It is the maxim of every prudent master of a family, never to attempt to make at home what it will cost him more to make than to buy...What is prudence in the conduct of every private family, can scarce be folly in that of a great kingdom. If a foreign country can supply us with a commodity cheaper than we ourselves can make it, better buy it of them with some part of the produce of our own industry, employed in a way in which we have some advantage."

Adam Smith, in "The Wealth of Nations," Book IV, Chapter II

Just curious.....

2 of the bigger hot button political issues right now are 1) job outsourcing (to foreign locations) and 2) prescription drug prices.

I wonder how many people have a unified view of the 2 issues? This is a meaningful question, since the most common solution to problem #2 is problem #1 - i.e. lower prescription drug prices thru the direct importation of prescription drugs from other countries (use cheaper foreign sources to deliver lower prices.) Importing goods or services can deliver lower prices for consumers, but for some reason imported products = good, imported services = bad. Hopefully this is just a phase that we'll grow out of, but I'm still shocked by the naiviety towards these issues by prominent politicians.

One batch of naive politicians are the group that would tend to be pro-outsourcing and anti-drug importation. This is contrary to the free market point of view that would argue for transparency and low barriers to curency (or product) flow.

Worse so would be the point of view that is anti-outsourcing but pro-drug importation. Unfortunately, this is the current populist perspective espoused by far too many prominent politicians abandoning principles for vote$.

But even this policy is preferable over a legislated middle ground that would include price controls and some form of control over job transfers.

The States and Outsourcing

TJ on govt. spending & politcal power

"When all government shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another, and will become as oppressive as the government from which we just separated." - Thomas Jefferson

Enough Talking about Fiscal Responsibility -- Let's Cut Spending

Sunday, March 14, 2004

1 yr. ago: A Marine's Journal

Interesting journal entries from a Marine infantryman during the Iraq war. It seems so long ago, but it was only a year ago.

OpinionJournal - A Marine's Journal

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

The Road to Serfdom after 60 Years

I'd describe this as a reminder to place liberty - specifically economic liberty in front of whatever competiting priorities we may experience on a daily basis. Without this reminder, it might be easy to argue for a new social program that could act as a band-aid instead of foregoing the program at a short term cost but long term gain in liberty.

Another reaction: wouldn't it be great if these philosopies were in some way introduced to high school students during their formative years? I can't say that this would be easy or broadly effective, but if only a small handful of high school graduates were 10% more fluent in this topic - the spirit of which I believe is part of the American DNA - I'm sure the country would be better off.

The Road to Serfdom after 60 Years

Monday, March 08, 2004

Just saw this Twain quote.....

that is wisdom to live by:

"'Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do.'

Mark Twain"

Hasta La Russa?

I've said for a long while that Tony LaRussa - often branded a "genius" has recorded average results for more than a decade, which this article corroborates.

LaRussa's great innovation was the handling of relief pitchers, particularly 1) retread starting pitchers, and 2) the extreme reliance on favorable lefty-lefty or righty-righty matchups in high-leverage late inning situations. (i.e. his handling of Rick Honeycutt and Dennis Eckersley.)

Over time, the rest of the league either imitated him or anticipated his moves, and he has largely come back to earth. He's had the benefit of one of the top budgets, but has continued to NOT develop young pitching - a common thread wherever he has managed - thus he's posted mediocre results, though his apologizers say that he has unfairly not had enough pitching (but he would if he developed any!)

All of this comes with one of the most expensive price-tags in the game. I'm stunned that the Cardinals have accepted LaRussa's performance at his price.

Hasta La Russa?

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Courier News Story

Quoted again - also regarding our meeting with the Deputy First Minister of Scotland, Jim Wallace.

Courier News Story

Gatecrash Wall St Wallace tells Scots - [Sunday Herald]

Hey, I'm quoted!

Gatecrash Wall St Wallace tells Scots - [Sunday Herald]

Buffet's 2003 thoughts.....

One document that I try to read every year is Warren Buffet's annaul letter to shareholders - I've read every one since about 1990. I find this annual letter important for 2 reasons. For one, the guy always has some lucent observations about what's going on in the world and the financial markets.

More importantly, though, it is important to hear an eminently qualified voice like Buffet espouse more conservative, long term managerial strategies, such as his dislike of stock options as managerial incentives, his avoidance of fads (such as investing in the internet in 1999-2001), and his willingness to sit on huge piles of cash when most observers argue that this destroys value.

Here's this year's edition. If you're interested, all of the old letters are also on the Berkshire site.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Irony: SI breaking CU rape story.

This from a typically hilarious sports parody site. Read the first paragraph on the page - it's less humor than a good point. - The Sports Humor and Satire Site on the Internet

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Colin Powell for President

I just thought that I'd post this article to get your neurons working. You heard it here first: at the '04 Republican convention, Bush will drop Cheney as VP and elevate Colin Powell, thus positioning him for an '08 run for Pres.

Think about it: my only impression of Cheney from the past 4 years is his connection with Halliburton, and if others have this P.O.V., he's definitely a liability. Powell, on the other hand, is firstly an extremely capable leader, a veteran politico (both as Sec. of State and Chief of the JCS) and finally a great demographic counter to the Democrats.

(I'd really like to see what the chances of a minority VP do to minority voting. I'm hoping (and believing) that (ignoring the merits of the candidates) minority voters would opt for the qualified minority candidate over the party candidate.
My read on the '04 Nader run for President is much like this article The Village Voice: Nation: Mondo Washington: Dems Call Ralph by James Ridgeway

I think Dems should view Nader more like an option - from now until November he's another accredited anti-Bush voice, but if the race is close he can bail out, and even boost the Democratic nominee's campaign by formally endorsing him (Kerry?)

Yes, if Nader goes the distance he's a net siphon on the Dems' candidate, but don't put it in the books yet.

INcidentally, while I don't very much agree with Nader's politics, I do appreciate the passion and consistency that he has.

On a related note, this marks the fourth election in a row with a major independent (or, more accurately non-Dem or non-Republican) candidate. (Perot and Nader.)

Perot peaked at 19% of the vote, and Nader gained 9% in '00. I sure hope that someday soon another independent candidate can build on this momentum and present a candidacy free of typical party politics.
As far as I'm concerneded, this article is the beginning and the end of the argument over foreign outsourcing.

Not only does it intelligently ask 'why do we care about where our coding is done if we don't care where we get out sneakers or our fruit?' but also provides a roadmap to our competitive future ("INNOVATION.")

This article may have really resonated with me because I'm already professionally in a similar situation - we would consider outsourcing less vital 'grunt work,' while retaining the high-value innovative work.

Wired 12.02: The New Face of the Silicon Age
The Agitator is always a good place to find intelligent contrarian analysis that makes you wonder why - in spite of all of the evidence to the contrary - we still let politicians make important decisions. Lou's Blues: Comments
I'm shocked......

at how easily I'm given access to an insane amount of credit.

I'm in the process of buying my first home, and yesterday dealt with my mortgage pre-approval. Now, standards may tighten as a I move from pre-approval to final mortgage, but the laxity still shocked me. For example:

I was pre-approved for 4.5X my annual salary, or 33% higher than my calculated ceiling.. How did I manage this? I mentioned my recent bonus (20% of my salary), which my broker promptly assumed would occur every year (and at the same payout level.) Gulp.

Not only that, but my broker also suggested a loan structure that while still representing 95% of the prospective value of the house, didn't include PMI, as 15% of the loan was in the form of a home equity loan (or 2nd mortgage.)

While such generous credit terms won't really affect my personal choices, I'm wondering how many other loaded guns are walking around out there with an excess of mortgage debt and NO PMI!
one aspect of the California-gay marriages hub-bub that everyone seems to be missing......

is the complete disregard for the rule of law in the midst of a socially charged issue. No matter what your stance on gay marriages, I just can't find any rationale that would permit the mayor of SF to "break the law" by sanctioning such weddings.

If the mayor or others felt that this law was in error or unjust, there are many channels to address the perceived injustice. How about suing in state court (as in Mass.), lobbying the state legislature, or perhaps starting a drive to have this on the ballot during the November elections ("Proposition XXX," or the like)?

Regardless of your feelings on the gay marriage issue (and I haven't yet figured my feelings out yet), I don't think the mayor of SF can choose which laws to enforce and which to openly flaunt, any more than I can choose which traffic laws to obey. ("I don't agree that this road should be only 25, so I'll just go 50 mph.")

I'm gonna predict that it's just a matter of time before some clever mayor does to the drug laws what the SF mayor has done to the marriage laws.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

excellent article on Apple's product faults and "what they need to do." I only wish the current situation wasn't quite so glum.
Apple is debt-free....(good news or bad news?)

Taking a look at the numbers for a second, the stock market values Apple @ $8.58B, but of that value, $4.8B is cold hard cash, meaning that ignoring the bank account, AAPL as a company is worth only $3.78B. (Or roughly 1/23rd of the value of Dell.)

(Hmm, funny how this is roughly AAPL's marketshare too.)

Anyway, if the next digital media product from Apple after the iPod mini is a hit, expect somebody like Sony to scoop Apple up for little more than a a rounding error (in Sony's terms, $3.8B is peanuts.)

Alternatively, some larger but weaker player could buy AAPL mostly for the cash.

Regardless of Apple's fate, there's a strong implied message when more than half of a company's value is simply it's bank account: "we can't find a better use of the money!" This is especially sad when Apple's $4.8B is cash is earning an interest rate of probably only 1-2%. Apple is in effect saying that investing the cash into R & D, or any other operating expense will do less than earn a 1-2% return on investment.

Personally, I'm stunned that Apple can't find any interesting partnerships or acquisitions to make to spend some of this money, and I'm stunned by what this implies. (To me, it says one of 2 things: either we're so in love withourselves that we can't find any partners worthy of our loot, or because Macs have such a small share of the market and developer interest, there aren't any Mac-based (software or hardware) business worth investing in. (by extension, all of the innovation starts on other platforms.)

The other option, that Apple has somehow avoided, is to return the cash to the shareholders, either thru a dividend or a share buyback. (That's what I'd like to see.)

99mac - 99% Macintosh - Powered By vBindex
I noticed this list of best-selling books by country while traveling a couple of days ago. I was struck by what canbe implied from the best-selling non-fiction in Germany and India: 2 of the top 5 in Germany are whiny books by Michael Moore, while #2 in India is Jack Welch's autobiographical how-to "Jack."

Which country do you think is cultivating an era of growth and which is heading further down the road to serfdom?

IHT: A glance at bestselling books around the world

Monday, February 09, 2004

Glad to see that I'm not the only one disappointed that the real critical piece in Apple's quest to leverage their position in the music biz is the iMac and is currently disappointing.

I've also got one other thought on Apple's future: 70% share of downloaded music, 30% share of the player market. Since Apple's is a closed system, I'd bet a lot of $$$ that the former figure approachs the latter over time.

PC Pro - Computing in the Real World

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Here's a great financial look at Apple's future, or at least one possible scenarios.....

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Prospective topics include:

Apple marketing strategy
Why in the world do people think Tony LaRussa is a good manager?

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Welcome to Cogent Passion!

Upcoming topics may include:

-B1-JPM deal hype: how in the world does this deal make sense, and why are the pundits caught up in Dimon's glow.
-Apple's product strategy
-ACC expansion: who's the greater fool(s): John Swofford or the ACC school presidents?

More entries coming soon......

With my new friends on the Great Wall of China

With my new friends on the Great Wall of China
Click to go to my online photography

World sun clock

Uncommon Man's Creed

"I do not choose to be a common man. It is my right to be uncommon -- if I can. I seek opportunity -- not security. I do not wish to be a kept citizen, humbled and dulled by having the state look after me. I wish to take the calculated risk; to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed. I refuse to barter incentive for a dole, I prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence; the thrill of fulfillment to the stale calm of utopia. I will not trade freedom for beneficence, nor my dignity for a handout. I will never cower before any master, nor bend to any threat. It is my heritage to stand erect, proud, and unafraid, to think and act for myself, to enjoy the benefit of my creations, and to face the world boldly and say, "this I have done." All this is what it means to be an American." -- Anonymous