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Showing posts from October, 2012

The Mongoliad Saga Continues

Neal Stephenson doing a book signing at the National Book Festival (Photo credit: Wikipedia)When I wrote a review of Mongoliad Book I, I noted that I was going to keep that book handy because there were so many characters and so many plot threads that I would need a refresher.Of course, the authors (Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Mark Teppo, Nicole Galland, Erick Bear, Joseph Brassey, and Cooper Moo) anticipated that, and the front pages list the characters by the area of the world they are located in. This was particularly useful, since the opening of book II picked up with a thread that I didn’t immediately recall, and some of the characters that I remembered the most clearly didn’t reappear until later in the volume.
Of course the core plot remains unchanged.A group of knights, the Shield Brethren, similar to the Knights Templar as an order under the direction of the Pope, have concluded that the only way to save all of Europe from being conquered by the Mongols, lead by a descendant o…

Solid Advice For Tech Start-ups

Guy Kawasaki in Sunnyvale, California at the Plug & Play Center signing his book Reality Check (Photo credit: Wikipedia)Cover via AmazonAs part of my continuing education in the world of venture capital, I’m reading Guy Kawasaki’s various works.His Art of the Start is still widely referenced as a must-read for anyone in a start-up, and in particular anyone considering raising venture capital.I’ve previously reviewed it here.There is clearly some overlap in the content between Reality Check and Art of the Start..Reality Check is larger and more fulsome, covering more aspects of starting and growing a business, while continuing to develop and update the topic of meeting, “beguiling” and working with venture capitalists and associated professionals. Some of the content was previously included in his blog.If you were a loyal follower of his blog, you might have already seen some of this material.
Kawasaki writes with a great sense of humor, much of which is self-deprecating. Like his p…

Access to Birth Control

In every election at any level nowadays, there are attempts to create an issue from whole cloth.  Generally these fail.  One recent attempt at issue creation concerns "access to birth control". This seems to have made an impact despite being spurious.
There may be candidates running for office who really would restrict access to birth control.  Clearly no one who is running for President plans to reduce access.
One could have a legitimate discussion of who pays for birth control, but not access.  My very rough guess is that there are six or seven thousand Walgreens, and a similar number of CVS stores.  Probably 1,500 Rite-Aids.  That alone would mean condoms are available in over 15,000 locations.  The real number is certainly much higher; I saw one report stating there are over 80,000 pharmacies in the U.S.
Once upon a time, long ago, there was health care insurance.  Individuals or employers paid a premium, and insurance companies shouldered the risks. It was similar to on…
Musings on the 25th Anniversary of the Great Stock Crash
Twenty-five years ago – the stock crash of Oct 19, 1987, the senior team of troubled consumer electronics firm Curtis Mathes was in the main conference room of its headquarters office.Getting a major chewing out by our bankers, Jack Koslow and Gretchen Ford Smith of Texas American Bank, known locally as “TAB”.Curtis Mathes was in serious financial difficulty and in violation of several loan covenants.This was greatly exacerbated by TAB’s problems.TAB was the long-standing premier bank based in Ft. Worth.
Banks and Savings & Loans in TX were failing.At one point TX was home to many of the U.S. largest banks.But the sudden collapse in the price of oil had bankrupted numerous oil and gas companies, with their defaults erasing decades accumulated equity in the big Houston banks.Dallas banks experienced a fair amount of that, but would likely have survived but for two other businesses.The defense industry was suffering from gove…

Warning Signs of a Brain Attack aka Stroke

Periodically I publicize the warning signs of a Brain Attack – AKA a stroke.I would like to give credit to the physician that stated that strokes should really be called Brain Attacks like heart attacks because they are equally serious.If you read this and can attribute it, please let me know.
But I want you to remember how serious these attacks are.If you, or a co-worker, or roommate, or anyone you are around exhibits any of these symptoms (e.g. warning signs), do NOT f*&! around- every second really does count.
1.Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
2.Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
3.Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
4.Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
5.Sudden, severe headache with no known cause.
I have witnessed the devastating effects of a stroke first hand.Fast treatment in a properly equipped ER can make a remarkable difference. I can’t over emphasize this: see thos…

Reveiw of Knocking on Heaven's Door, by Lisa Randall

English: black and white picture of lisa randal at interview at cern 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)MUNICH, GERMANY - JANUARY 22: Lisa Randall of Harvard University speaks during the Digital Life Design conference (DLD) at HVB Forum on January 22, 2012 in Munich, Germany. DLD (Digital - Life - Design) is a global conference network on innovation, digital, science and culture which connects business, creative and social leaders, opinion-formers and investors for crossover conversation and inspiration. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
As I recall, I purchased Knocking on Heaven’s Door by Lisa Randall after reading a review in Barron’s.Subtitled How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World, it is an exploration of both cosmology and particle physics, and a spirited defense of scientific analysis, hypothesis and testing.I refer to the prior review because I expected (perhaps unfairly) reporting on the state of knowledge on the specific physics t…