Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New (and End) Year

Lack of Posting = Death (to a blog)

I sort of fell off the wagon quickly trying to deal with a end of year work blitz and trying to help my daughter with looking a lacrosse schools. However, no blog should miss the chance of end of year summaries and predictions.

The ability to predict what will happen was one of humans many evolutionary advantages.

Predictions for 2013, not in any order

The Higgs Boson gets formally found.

Mitt Romney wins the Republican primaries.

The Presidential election seems like it is a coin flip right now - but call I must: Obama wins a 2nd term as President. The reasons I think this will happen are pretty mundane: 1) it is hard to dump a sitting President,  2) Obama has some genuine accomplishments, and 3) the Tea Party line the GOP is forced to tow is not popular with independents.  Even though the economic picture looks grim, the GOP has nothing new to offer except - you got it - tax cuts for the rich.

We will see little or no progress on the deficit this year and the reasons will be entirely political.

Iran will not detonate a nuclear weapon in 2012, but already has the material to make one or more bombs.

We will not make it out of Afghanistan in 2012, but we will by the end of 2014.

  • The Packers will (sadly) win another Super Bowl.
  • LSU will win the National Championship by defeating Alabama.
  • We will not get a football playoff system for BCS level teams, despite the fact that every other NCAA football division has a play-off system.
  • I don't care enough about pro basketball, baseball, or hockey to make any predictions about that. 

Highlights of 2011

My family and kids are all did well.

Son successfully left for college.

Family trip to Chicago and San Franciso. I highly recommend doing the Alcatraz tour. We also did Muir Woods which was highly enjoyable.

US gets OBL.

Michigan football is relevant again.

US gets out Iraq.

UNC won Men's soccer championship.

TCL cancels Kate plus 8 after more agonizing years of rants than ever should have been shown.

Best form of Teenage Birth Control: MTV's Teen Moms

Bad highlights of 2011

My sister passed away.

The VA earthquake that shook our office building was pretty exciting, but it damaged the Washington Memorial. Something I wanted to go to the top of.

The Japanese earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent reactor meltdown. It reminds us that if it did happen the past, it can happen again.

The Republican debates.

Celebrity nuisances: Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan (oh where have you gone Freaky Friday?), the Kardashian brand, Russell Brand,

TLC Shows that encourage irresponsible behavior: The Duggars/19 kids and counting, Sister Wives

The Tea Party holding the entire country hostage in order to prove they could hold the entire country hostage --- thus dumping the stock market down, getting the US downgraded, and adding to long term financial uncertainty.

Living with the impact of the sole of object of the GOP being to keep Obama from being a two term President.

Happy New Year!

Here is hoping for a prosperous New Year for everyone.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

(Belated) Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

Sorry I did not get a post out earlier on this.  My sister and brother-in-law are in town, so there were multiple family related activities.

Some friends of ours got news that a family member has a previously undiscovered late stage cancer in the last couple of days.  This family recently lost another member to cancer.  While I don't mention specific names in this blog, if you can say a brief prayer of strength for those are dealing with loss and an uncertain future, please do so.

While I got some nice gifts today, I was happier reflecting upon my family.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Killer B

This dog was promised by the pound to be may 50 to 55 lbs - max.  How, may you ask, could they be off by 60%?  He was supposed to be a lab mix.  Why do you think they thought that?  It boggles the mind.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Oh so quiet

Finally got the Christmas cards put together today.  Obviously all of them won't make to the recipients by Christmas day.

Here are some random thoughts:

  • Chaz Bono is probably the person I least want to hear about in 2012 ... clearly his/her 15 minutes of fame has gone on way too long.  Way too over exposed.
  • I have been intrigued by the news regarding the possible hints of the Higgs Boson.  Ignoring the ridiculous hoopla surrounding the nickname the "God particle," it will be cool if they actually manage nail it down.  I had a brief stint working on an accelerator experiment at Brookhaven National lab, but I make no claim to understanding anything that is going on.
  •  The E-Cat cold fusion story was somewhat mesmerizing as well.  It seems like a comet, flaring brightly then cooling to the point of disappearing.  Scam or no scam?  If it is real, it would be a game changer.
  • 35 Bowl games seems excessive, but why do some many sports people seem intent on complaining about it.
  • We were almost spared a season of the NBA.  Now we are almost ready for tip-off on Christmas day.  For basketball, college is where it is at.
  • In case you missed it UNC won the NCAA soccer championship.
  • This is a bit late, but a remarkable story about how my daughter's field hockey team won the NC state championship (for the 4th year in a row).  It might has well have been a TV story.
Happy Holidays all!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Turn that smile up side down President Romney

Romney's appearance on Letterman's show as pretty amusing.  It shows a nice sense of humor and the guy looked pretty handsome.  But that is not the story of the day.  The story of the day is PAC money unleashed to savage Newt.  Once Romney was actually threatened, the dogs came out.  And this is against a Republican.  Wait till the real election, when that unlimited money starts to flow. We're going to see the ugliest election in years.

Romney was smiling it up for Letterman, but behind the scene he's hot under the collar and that smile has been turned upside down.  (Of course, if you had just spent the last 5 or 6 years running for President only to have Newt face you in a few weeks - you would do the same thing).

The Tea Party continued it's single-handed attempt to re-elect President Obama by yanking John Boehner's chain.  The nasty human lap dog needed only to know how high to jump.  Even if it meant hosing Senate Republicans and making himself look that like an idiot.

So, what's next?  I don't know.  But I am sure it will be stunning.

Worse yet - after mangling various portions of his Presidency by either ignoring Republican's completely or by kowtowing to the Tea Party Republicans - Obama is now campaigning.  Something he has proven extremely capable at doing.

I am not the biggest fan of the job Obama has done, but if the stock market is higher in October than it is right now and the employment rate is better - in the face of 18 months of likely Republican obstructionism - the GOP will be rightly punished.

Then may be we will get grown-ups back in control of the GOP.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Holy Smokes, What are they Smoking?

Republicans continued to take aim at their own feet today when the House decided not to take up a bill that would have provided a two month extension to the payroll tax cut.  I am not sure that I know the reason other than it must be a tea party snit fit.  The whole tax cut extension debate smacks back to the summer and the willingness of the House Republicans to shake the confidence of the world in the US willingness to fund our debt.   Have no doubt, these are the kind of people that would shoot your dog for barking, yell at your kids for walking on their lawn, and make fun of the poor.

My favorite GOP point about the tax cut is that "it ought to be funded."  

May be we should repeal all the Bush tax cuts unless they were funded.  Stunning and deafening silence.  Of course, but the GOPers are the world's biggest hypocrites on that front.  Oddly though, there are some of them  that are angry at George W. because he created massive systematic deficits by cutting taxes without addressing spending.  Of course, one can abort history, and all they had to do was "just say no."   So, like I tell my kids, if you did it, then you've got to own it.

Sorry my Tea Party pals, but you guys are just as responsible as George W.

What ever that Koolaid is that they are drinking, I think it is time to cut off Newt's supply.  Perhaps we could just abolish all courts and elect Newt King of the United States.  Sheesh.

I will, however, point out my dismay that Obama seemed to take personal claim to the US getting Osama.  Obviously it was the culmination of years of hard work but the intelligence agencies and the military.  A gutsy call, but lets be real

Kind of reminds me how Republicans seem to attribute the fall of Communism to Reagan, even though it was the culmination of years policy that started after the end of World War II.

Please grow up before you screw this country up for even a longer time.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Are Entrepreneurs Patriots and why Taxing the Rich is OK

I spend some of my time attending venture capital (VC) meetings where companies with novel products seek out investors for their products.  The products are a mix of common sense applications, sure misses, and some technological brilliance.  Many of these ideas are developed at public universities, which have offices whose sole job it is find companies to move that technology into the private sector.  Other times the idea comes from an expert teamed with engineers who come up with a solution to an identified problem.

There is nothing automatically unhealthy about all this - thought it comes with a couple of observations:  the research at public institutions sometimes seems poorly focused around economic realities and the research often done at significant public expense does not seem to provide much return on investment to the public.   The first problem is, I think, largely a problem of how we fund research in this country.  The government puts a lot of tax money into research, without enough thought given to what it will mean economically.  This is not intended to slight basic research, but what I see coming out is often too far from what the VCs want.  The second issue is that the deals seem to heavily put the money into VCs, but gain little back to the institutions, where this money could fund other research or fund the education of future researchers.

I suspect other countries do a better job of this.  However, I've talked to some Canadians once and it seemed like the government was funding the research and then taking the next step of developing the products - then they would sell the product farther down the line.  This smacks of government being in direct competition with the public, which seems like a very dangerous path to follow, since the government never will never go out of business because it is inefficient or makes bad decisions.

Yet, letting "entrepreneurs" cherry pick the best things coming publicly funded research and turning big profits without a big pay back isn't great.  It is an insiders game.  Further, I've seen the very same people tying up the IP (intellectual property) in the US, but then developing the technology abroad where they can profit more quickly.  Again, cherry picking the intellectual fruits of the US education system, but blocking the development in the US while they profit from it abroad.

No ones breaking the law and entrepreneurs are not patriots.  It doesn't mean they are evil or that their actions don't bring some great products to the market that benefit the US.  Sometimes they do.  That is when capitalism is working its magic.  However, the source of these victories is because we paid taxes,  those taxes got used to build universities, those universities educated engineers and doctors, and these people did their research of the public dime.   But we won't all benefit equally.  This is just the type of thing that the Occupy movement understands at an abstract level, without articulating the details.

We need a better way.  Probably one that has government work in a more directed toward economically useful findings.  And, when the money (taxes) society investments generates a great idea, we ought to at least fairly tax those that derive large benefits from them.

Friday, December 16, 2011

DC Circuit

OK - I enjoyed the cut of Bachmann taking down Newt in the GOP debate.  Otherwise no politics today.  Ron Paul is my favorite of the current pool of candidates.  He is the most consistent candidate in his libertarian positions.  He had a few nutty moments in the debate, I do believe he is speaking the truth as he sees it.

I completed a round trip from NC to "the District" and back in less than 11 hours picking my son up from college.  Sadly with all of my Father's troubles this fall I was unable to visit him at school during the fall.  I met a few kids in his dorm.  When I pulled up there was a kid throwing up into the garbage can outside the front door.  I presume some irresponsible post-finals partying, at least I hope so.

The ride back was pretty enjoyable.  George Washington was rated as the most political active school in the US and we talked about politics for about an hour and a half.

The school sent a rather humorous note about how my child would be changed from his first semester in school.  I can't really cover it hear, just to say that going to college for one semester is not an excuse for boorish behavior.  If he starts acting like they implied he might, he is going to have a rude awakening coming.

My daughter is still getting recruitment messages from different Division II and III schools.  Some of these schools I know and others I have never heard of.  Mostly they seem to have losing records.  Once we see what her SAT scores look like, we'll try to see if any of these schools match up.  I am not too fond of the idea of her going 8 hours away to play DIII lacrosse where I will never see it.

I guess DI schools and perhaps DII programs get solicited by enough players that they don't have to fish as hard for talent.  Probably even more established DIII programs have a same situation.

The weekend my plans are:  take the youngest to a party, get a Christmas tree, visit with my Dad, and do some work.   We're also doing luminaries on Saturday.  Should be a busy weekend.

Everyone else - have a great weekend.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tell it ain't so - - - Newt is starting to fade

It looks like Newt may be starting to slip.  The GOP better find the Huntsman fast.  Otherwise they are going to find that Romney = Dukakis.  I'm just saying.

Huntsman has a historically conservative record . . . but we know what his mistake was . . . and you all remember watching him get off on the wrong foot.  I know the suspense is killing you, but he acknowledged that be thought that man's activities contributed to Global Warming.  I know, I know, Huntsman crossed the line and the base has yet to forgive him for it completely.   I think they will, eventually, but it may be a bit longer.

Huntsman's ability to actually take a position like could be magic in the general election.  The Global Warming Litmus test has never made a lot of sense to me for a couple of reasons, but, because it is kind of a recognized litmus test.  So Huntsman's ability to actually say something the majority will find reasonable, even at some political cost to himself within the base, he was able to do it.  Further, the guy is obviously very smart and very articulate.

It may be too late, but if the GOP rushes away from Newt, they may have to go to Huntsman.

Someone I'd like to talk about next is Ron Paul.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Donald Donald Donald Donald ... the next you decide to run another episode of the apprentice hold a debate, please make sure that the apprentices candidates are willing to appear on your show.

I still like Trump, but he was not and is not a serious candidate for the Presidency.

So, we are left to decide whether this was true ego or just a poorly over estimated stunt in order to gain publicity.  I am banking on the latter, that it was a stunt gone awry.

Donald, my friend, please call up Sarah P. and arrange a few motivational talks in stadiums away from the cameras for a while.  You guys can look back on your days of glory.

A deeper question is whether the GOP primary process and sideshow nature of the primaries is going to continue long enough to hurt the GOP next November?  Greater minds than I will have to figure it out.  I kind of assume that it will settle down pretty soon once a few candidates run away.  But, this stuff is just too rich to not enjoy.

Meanwhile, Obama is slowly honing his message and act.  Must be making more than a few conservatives crazy with worries right now.

Sleep well my liberal friends, sleep well.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Will the Tea Party elect a Gingrich for Christmas?

Certainly Dr. Suess must be spinning in his grave.  Spray Newt green and add some facial hair, and you can almost see Jim Carrey’s version of the Grinch.  Who else but a Grinch to say that the Palestinians are a made up people and have no claim to the land where they were living.  Of course, at some point, Jerusalem may have been populated entirely by Jewish people.  However, if you are going to use that kind of grounds to expel inhabitants of the land and give it to someone else – then most Americans better start packing because – by Newt’s rules, we’re going to have return the continuous 48 to Native Americans.  I am sure Newt will give his house up first to demonstrate his high ideals (unless may be he is a hypocrite or something).
So who gives us Newt - certainly a much more dangerous candidate that Romney - none other than the world's angriest constituency:  the Tea Party.  They are angry because there exists a government that has the audacity to collect taxes.  Because they are angry they need an angry candidate.  Granted, they tried Rick Perry - but he wasn't ready for prime time.  They tried Bachmann - but she wasn't ready for prime time.  Finally, they figure out that Newt's actually smart enough to make Tea Party politics somehow sound rationale - and he can do angry.  
Bless his soul, though, because Gingrich may actually spare us serial candidate Mitt Romney.  Mitt's seems like a great family guy, but if you've spent the last 6 years running for President and failing, you are not meant to be President.  This also spares us the whole excuse that people don't like Mitt because he is Mormon.  No - he changes his positions like a wind vane and is weak.  What GOP candidate gets whiny about the way he is handled by a Fox reporter?  Really, the interview was too rough?  Aren't you supposed to be man enough to be leader of the free world?
So - take a few minutes to thank the GOP - because they have scored a Christmas hit.  The Grinch (oh I mean the Gingrich) is here for the holidays.  We still got 12 more shopping days to do - let's see what else appears under the tree!
PS - To prove things could get worse for me personally, we had to put down our older dog today.  We had him for 15 years, which is pretty old, but he had dropped from 18 to 14 pounds in about a month.  That can be many things, but nothing we were going to save him from.
PPS - OK - I got some perversely good news:  once I write off my losses for the year I won't owe almost any federal or state taxes.  Meaning, I will possibly be able to get all of my estimates taxes back.  That is like two years of tuition payments for my son's college.  Woo hoo.  (Yes - it also means that I made so little that my write-offs come close to equaling my profits - but I'm trying to be positive).

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Commerative Blogging

Admittedly, I found that I have a tendency to make a bold statement or two about planned activities - only to abandon the effort. 

None the less, I will attempt to come back to this blog over the next year as a small tribute to my sister.  She died of a heart attack at the age of 54 in October.  My sister was a somewhat avid reader and supporter this blog, particularly my more extremist political posts.  She lived in Wisconsin where she was active in various left wing political causes, was a fan of the Ed Show, and supporter of numerous liberal organizations, such as the South Poverty Law Center (which I find somewhat annoying).

The past few years have been pretty tough:  my Mother died at the beginning of 2010, my business has shrunk from 25 employees to 15, my Father was diagnosed with Parkinson's, moved to be closer to us, and now is in the dying; and my sister passed away.  My Father has stopped eating very much, developed a bad wound, and mentally is often significantly disoriented.  Those are the bigger things, but there have been other defeats and insults along the way.

In any event, as I shrink down some of my efforts, I will try to take a little bit of that time to write.  Now that the world has been prematurely deprived on my sister's liberal outrage, I feel that she would have wanted me to express a little for her.

While  I am admittedly a bit beaten down, I hate to be a whiner.  I have numerous things to be thankful for, which is part of slowed down my blogging in the first place.  My kids have been gems - one a freshman at George Washington, a daughter who has good grades and is getting recruited to play lacrosse in college, and a wonderful middle school student.  My wife remains amazing.  Our dog Baxter is destroying significantly fewer things than he did previously.  I still have a business and a job (even though I did lose a lot of money this year).

So, what does the future hold?  Hopefully a better balance between the good and the bad. 

Peace to everyone!