Month: February 2008

Article: Hitting It Off, Thanks to Algorithms of Love

January 29, 2008
Findings
Hitting It Off, Thanks to Algorithms of Love
By JOHN TIERNEY

PASADENA, Calif. — The two students in Southern California had just been introduced during an experiment to test their “interpersonal chemistry.” The man, a graduate student, dutifully asked the undergraduate woman what her major was.

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Article: America Risks Mother of all Meltdowns

A good Nouriel Roubini summary from the Financial Times. This is the damaging, scenario that’s motivating the Fed and politicians to stuff their CYA (“cover your ass”) files. [Read Roubini’s complete article here: The Rising Risk of a Systemic Financial Meltdown: The Twelve Steps to Financial Disaster]

February 19 2008
America’s Economy Risks Mother of all Meltdowns
By Martin Wolf

“I would tell audiences that we were facing not a bubble but a froth – lots of small, local bubbles that never grew to a scale that could threaten the health of the overall economy.” Alan Greenspan, The Age of Turbulence.

That used to be Mr Greenspan’s view of the US housing bubble. He was wrong, alas. So how bad might this downturn get? To answer this question we should ask a true bear. My favourite one is Nouriel Roubini of New York University’s Stern School of Business, founder of RGE monitor.

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The Australian Pink Floyd Show

Last night, here in Gothenburg, Sweden, some friends and I saw The Australian Pink Floyd Show and were totally blown away.

If you love Pink Floyd and you get a chance to see these guys, do it. They have a totally smoken’ band, complete with saxophones, slide guitar and a 3-woman vocal section. One of those women, Amy Smith, will knock you to the floor and make you cry like a baby when she does her Great Gig in the Sky solo. Just phenomenal. Don’t even get me started on the Wall songs, the Comfortably Numb, the Wish You Were Here, and on and on.

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Article: The One-Guy Theory

An interesting article highlighting the agility and decisiveness that comes with “one-guy” leadership. Also covered, of course, are some of the drawbacks.

February 14, 2008
BusinessWeek
The One-Guy Theory

Diffuse power begets confusion. Companies led by one guy get things done.

There is a central truth about Time Warner (TWX) that new CEO Jeff Bewkes must grapple with: Things. Move. Very. Slowly. There. The stock market yawned after his initial earnings call with analysts on Feb.6, perhaps because two of the major initiatives he mentioned—revamping AOL to sell its dial-up access business more easily and moving toward some decision about Time Warner Cable (TWC)—already have spent a few seasons percolating as possibilities in the press. Furthermore, readying AOL would be “fairly complicated,” Bewkes warned. The process could take several months.

This touches on the fundamental media conglomerate problem: There are too many layers. There are too many fiefdoms. There are too many…guys. Guys strolling the corridors, guys clustering around the boardroom, guys slowing things down. (The litany of executives that follows shows they’re, still, almost exclusively guys.) This, in a time of great uncertainty and fast-shifting consumer appetites, when sheer speed may determine which companies successfully molt and which simply melt.

I was chewing this over with a dealmaker pal and, inevitably, the alacrity and decisiveness with which News Corp. (NWS) makes its moves came up. Said pal had a two-word explanation: “One guy.”

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Article: Empty-Stomach Intelligence

I’ve been meaning to post this for about a year… finally got around to it when I wrote this post on my startup’s blog: Bootstrap, Then Raise Funds If/When Necessary.

Update: Also this post: Simulated Startup vs. Real Startup.

December 10, 2006
New York Times
Empty-Stomach Intelligence
By CHRISTOPHER SHEA

Hunger makes the best sauce, goes the maxim. According to researchers at Yale Medical School, it may make quadratic equations and Kant’s categorical imperative go down easier too. The stimulation of hunger, the researchers announced in the March issue of Nature Neuroscience, causes mice to take in information more quickly, and to retain it better — basically, it makes them smarter. And that’s very likely to be true for humans as well.

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Real Estate Market: Confirmation Bias on Display in Bozeman, Montana

UPDATE: See the comments to this post for discussion of this story plus continuing updates to the “S.W. Montana Meltdown.”

I find this fascinating:

I pulled this chart from Zilow.com in about 10 seconds. It shows the 1-year percentage price change for Gallatin County, Montana (down 10%) and Bozeman, MT (down 12%).

Yet the below article contains the following quote: Dennis Carlson, government affairs director of the Gallatin Association of Realtors, said “Housing prices are holding in the Gallatin Valley.”

It just goes to show you that the media and special interests will say what they want to say, regardless the facts. And people will believe what they want to believe regardless of the facts. It is a well known principal of psychology (called “confirmation bias“), but it’s always interesting to see it on display.

Makes me think of Bush’s quote after the New Orleans disaster: “Heckuva job, Brownie!” Or his “Mission Accomplished” fantasy. Right now we see the same thing going on as the media, and much of the public, continue in their recession denial.

Note: I do hope the housing contraction bottoms soon (it will be a great buying opportunity when it does), along with the credit crisis and stagflation, but I do not deny their existence. Now on to the article:

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