Monday, July 21, 2008

SOTW: Sweetest Thing

A lot has been on my mind recently. This week's song, "Sweetest Thing" by U2 has a calming feel to it, so I think it fits nicely as a backdrop.

Check it out below:

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Rick, we should talk

An open letter to G. Richard Wagoner, Jr., Chairman and CEO of General Motors

Dear Mr. Wagoner,

Your company has been in the news lately, and sadly the reports have not been positive. Today a flurry of articles suggested worries of bankruptcy. Certainly, I want to give you the benefit of the doubt on this subject, but I’m worried. In many ways, the deck is stacked against you. Pension plan woes and rising healthcare costs are putting GM a big step behind foreign competitors. I know that your predecessor’s poor business decisions have put an incredible fixed cost burden upon your shoulders.

I notice that yesterday’s closing price of $9.69 per share is down over 60% year to date. I also notice that when you took the reigns as CEO on June 1, 2000, GM was trading around $70 per share. Can I be anything else than disappointed?

It’s not just about the financial that disturb me; it’s the lack of innovation. Now that Toyota’s Prius is over 10 years old, I ask you, how is GM competing in the Hybrid market? Unfortunately, adding an electric motor to the Chevy Tahoe isn’t a good answer. Anyone satisfied with improving an SUV’s highway fuel economy from 19 MPG to 22 MPG is completely missing the point of this technology.

I remember your 2007 Commencement speech at Duke when I received my Master’s Degree. You spoke of great advances coming for the automotive industry. Now is the time to step up our game. Once we start giving people more competitively priced options with American innovation, they will respond. They will be proud to own and drive GM cars and trucks.

My goal is defending my Ph.D. in Photonics early in 2009, so I’m on the lookout for job opportunities. My strong engineering and problem solving background would be an asset to your company. In particular, I’ve got some really good ideas for plug-in electric vehicles. Feel free to look me up in the Duke Alumni Directory if you want to talk.

Best regards,


Monday, July 07, 2008


It's back to work after the July 4th weekend. The Jackson Five brings you "ABC".

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

SOTW: From Simon and Garfunkel

This week's song of the week is one of Simon and Garfunkel's greatest hits. The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) features a nice little duet with great harmony. The last 2 measures of the song sound incredibly familiar, but I just can't place it. Please let me know if you have any thoughts.

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Countdown to Beijing

It was a windy day on June 29, 2008 in Eugene, OR, site of the the USA Track and Field Olympic Trials. The day before, Tyson Gay finished ran the 100m dash in 9.77 seconds setting the American record, and that was just the qualifier. Today, however, was the finals. Wearing a uniform designed in tribute to Jesse Owens, Tyson and 7 others approached the starting line. At first, the majority of runners jumped across the line, but no one was personally awarded the false start. The official ruled excessive crowd noise as the cause. At the sound of the gun, the sprinters exploded. It certainly wasn't a surprise to see Tyson Gay cross first, but the true magic was in his time. Finishing in 9.68 seconds, Tyson recorded the fastest 100m time ever run by a human. Even though faster than 9.72 seconds, his time does not qualify to set a new world record. Tail wind speeds of 4.1 m/s were measured, exceeding the 2 m/s threshold for official 100m records. What he did win, was a place on Team USA's 2008 Beijing Olympics roster. On the world's stage, countless eyes will be on Tyson Gay when he attempts to go for the gold, the world record, and the chance to become this generation's Olympic hero.

-Also note that Michael Johnson was also pretty good.
-Other links for those who don't remember the 1936 Olympics in Berlin or Jesse Owens. From what I can gather, Hitler had high hopes for the Nazi athletes under the theory of some inherent Aryan race superiority. Turns out Jesse had another perspective winning gold in the 100m, 200m, 4x100m, and Long Jump.
-This year in Beijing, swimmer Michael Phelps is a strong favorite for a number of events. However, his arrest in November 2004 for driving under the influence (at age 19) makes it considerably more difficult for me to appreciate him as a role model.
-In his spare time, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski is coaching the USA Men's National Basketball Team.
-The 2012 Summer Olympics will be held in London, UK. I'd like to go, so let me know if you want to as well.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Super Bowl, Super Tuesday, Superman

The New York Football Giants win Super Bowl XLII. In what could be the greatest upset in Super Bowl history, the Giants defeated the New England Patriots 17-14 with two (80 and 83 yard) touchdown drives in the 4th quarter. Just one win shy of perfection, the Patriots end their season with a glaring 18-1 record. T-Shirts are current available on eBay with the subtext "*Cheaters Never Prosper" which references this season's 'incident' where the Patriots were disciplined by the NFL for illegally videotaping New York Jets' signals. See Spygate on Wikipeida.

Steve Tisch, center right, and Steve Mara, left, executives of the New York Giants, ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2008. Source: NYSE via Bloomberg News

Today is Super Tuesday for the 2008 US Presidential election. We'll see what happens tonight as the Democratic and Republican Primary election poll numbers are tallied for 24 states.

Continuing this theme, the new Song of the Week (SOTW) is the theme from the movie Superman (1978). Composed by John Williams. Need I say more?


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Thriftville and Squanderville

I stumbled upon an interesting article written in 2003 by the "Oracle of Omaha". "Why I'm not buying the U.S. dollar" warns our nation about its expanding trade deficit, and proposes a policy control it. It's a little long, but I think it's well worth the read.

Here are links to the article and my archived copy:

To diverge a little, I'd like to talk about our national debt and relate it to a household mortgage. Currently our national debt is about $9.2 trillion. To put it in perspective I'd like to compare that against our national tax revenue. For FY07, this was $2.5 trillion. ( ) So I think I'm correctly calculating our Debt to Income 'front ratio' as 27%. That's right below the conventional limit of 28%. ( ) In other words, this would be the equivalent of a married couple with combined gross household income of $75k/year obtaining a mortgage of $275k.

Right now, I think our country's debt level is 'ok'. It's not great, but it's manageable. The problem is the rate of change of the deficit; it's increasing. Just as it is in Squanderville, excessive borrowing puts an unfair burden on the future generation of taxpayers. The United States has an incredible amount of collateral to back up our AmEx Platinum spending. There's no doubt we've got wiggle room and borrow at the best rates.

We just need to modify our policies to become more fiscally responsible because our margins are shrinking. From the consumer perspective, this means shying aways from buying quickly depreciating assets (like luxury goods) on credit. However, if we're talking about genuine ways to increase our country's value over the long term, I'm all for throwing in a few hundred billion dollars. Why not go for it?


Monday, January 28, 2008

Eye of the Tiger

This week's SOTW is Eye of the Tiger by Survivor. At this point, I don't have any supporting text other than encouraging you to check it out:

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