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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Sunday, January 27, 2008

What is Benjamin Moore?

Last and this weekend I undertook a painting project in my townhouse. The stock 'builder beige' was altogether too bland and speckled with scuff marks. It was exciting to shop for color and create my own palette. Choosing just the right formula brings out a new visual dimension which adds tremendously to my house's warmth. The walls now 'reflect' personality. (Great pun, right? Technically, the paint's pigments absorb certain wavelengths upon reflection.)

My design was to segment the living room from the kitchen/dining room with different colors. My downstairs floor plan is open, but I've been able to create a much different feel within each area. I hope to paint more rooms and hallways as time goes marches onward. I am very satisfied with my color choice, but I will not publish the details at this point. I may in the future. My selection in brand, however, is no secret. I highly recommend Benjamin Moore paints. Their quality is well worth the premium whether you're doing the job yourself or hiring someone else. As a non-professional, I found the paint to be very forgiving, coating extremely well. Two thin coats worked great, blending together the rolled areas with the perimeter brush strokes ('cut in').

Now we arrive at the Final Jeopardy clue of the day:
Warren Buffett (likely) chose this brand of paint for his corporate headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska.

For those who didn't know, Benjamin Moore & Co. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Midnight Train to Georgia

This week's SOTW is a 1973 Motown favorite by Gladys Knight & the Pips. As today is Martin Luther King Day, it's appropriate to choose a song performed by an African American artist. This title also intimately relates to this past week's DARPA review meeting in San Diego. The Duke DISP crew took the red-eye back to RDU Friday night, and our flight plan routed us through Atlanta. So figuratively we were on the Midnight Train to Georgia. Enjoy.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Baba O'Riley

This week's song is Baba O'Riley by The Who. I recalled the song's usage in an episode of House M.D., and noticed a descriptive annotation on the Wikipedia page. Scanning the other notable soundtrack uses, I learned that it was also used as the entrance music of former New York Yankees right fielder Paul O'Neil. At this point, that trivia probably qualifies as 'old school'.

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Monday, January 07, 2008

Bill Gates CES 08 Keynote Video

Bill Gates CES 08 Keynote Video

Bill Gates gave his final keynote at CES this week. This is a video documentary about his last day at Microsoft and what he's been up too lately with his free time when he isn't working with his foundation. Extremely funny.


2008: It's a New Year

It's 2008, and Classic Portnoy has resumed a regular posting schedule. To start things off, I'm instituting a new program called the Song of the Week (SOTW). I plan to update it on the first work day of each week. Last week's song was "Start Me Up" by the Rolling Stones, and this week's is "Ants Marching" by Dave Matthews Band. If you seek just a little more motivation, maybe this will help you start your week strong. Feel free to sing along at home.

Song of the Week