Archive for June, 2012

My older sister was in a wheelchair the last part of her life.

I know how quietly frustrated she felt.

I remember once she thought she wasn’t going to be able to go to a beloved niece’s graduation because of the difficult logistics that go along with being in a wheelchair.

Forget that!

I picked her up in my old International Scout… plenty big!

I carried her up the many steps into the house.

We shocked the hell out of everyone who thought she wasn’t going to make it… in the very best way.  She talked about that party for a long time afterwards… she always loved parties.

I’m not a reality show kinda guy… but The Business Insider recently ran a piece on Push Girls, from The Sundance Channel

… it’s about girls in wheelchairs… not letting life get them down… honestly talking about the challenges and frustrations… it’s like, “everything you ever wanted to ask a girl in a wheelchair but didn’t have the balls to ask.”

The girls said it best… I’m paraphrasing from something I read in USA Today about the show:

     “We’re trying to get people to look at the girl first and the chair second.”

One word sums it up:  Inspiring.

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I wrote some time ago how hard it will be for the European Union to coordinate… if for no other reason they all speak a different language!

The truth is, that barely scratches the surface… not only can these people not communicate freely with each other…

… but they operate in a totally different way… that is, live, work, eat, play, pray, etc.

Here’s a great example:

Retirement age is a deeply cultural thing.  And yet, it seems like all the countries in the European Union have different retirement ages!

How’s that going to feel… you working well into your golden years… to help pay off debts for others that retired well before you?

Not so hot.

This may be overly simplistic… but it feels like the EU needs some kind of reset.  Create Version 2.0.  They should create minimum requirements, like retirement age.  If a country doesn’t want the benefits associated with the union, they can choose to opt out.

Else… well, what Obama said the other day will be the least of their worries:

     “Imagine dealing with 17 Congresses instead of just one. That makes things more challenging.”

 

Update #1:  Wow… now they’re extorting each other… how’s this for “team play” from Mariano Rajoy, the Prime Minster of Spain?

     “We are powerful, and if they don’t give in, the whole thing will go down. It will cost Europe 500 billion if Spain goes bust, and then another 700 billion if Italy goes bust.”

 

Update #2:  Wow… this from Alexis Tsipras, front-runner in the Greek elections this weekend:

     “If they don’t give us the next loan installment, the euro zone will collapse the day after.”

 

All of this passion and consternation simply to get people to pay their own bills.  Scary.

Everyone thinks Facebook flopped in the public market.

Worse, that this might affect funding and public offerings for a rash of other tech companies.

Huh?

Facebook skyrocketed in the public markets… going from $0 to over $50 billion in market capitalization in less than a decade.

If anything, that should encourage future tech investment, not discourage it.

The problems everyone is having is where that value was created.

It was created on a new innovation — “private exchange” markets where people can publicly buy and sell shares in private companies…

… which means Facebook has been public for a LONG time…

… and it means Facebook was the first company in history to have its share price run-up BEFORE it hit the well established public exchanges.

If anything, THAT should be the headline in all of this… liquidity is now available for private corporations before traditional liquidity events.

P.S.  As to Facebook share price… at 10x sales and 50x profits, Facebook is already trading like a mature company.  That means it’s probably going to hang around the 20’s for a while.

Happy election day.

I voted… and got a little “I Voted!” sticker…

… written in three different languages.

I know I’ve written about this before… but need to do so again:

I don’t have issues with diversity, race, creed, color, sexual orientation, musical preferences, favorite ice cream, whatever.

But I do have an issue with communication… because the only thing that makes a community — unites a community — is the ability to communicate.

We can’t do that if we all speak different languages.

Or, worse, if our government encourages multiple languages… like balloting in different languages… like teaching in different languages… like something as simple as an “I Voted!” sticker.

My father, aunt, and grandparents came here from Greece and made it a priority to learn the language of their new country.

You’d think, of anyone, the government would understand the value of that.

There’s an initiative on the June ballot called Prop 29.  It levies a $1 tax per pack of cigarettes.  The opponents of Prop 29 — the tobacco companies — are using the worst kind of political advertising to combat…

… that is, citing themes that usually resonate with voters… but doing so without any real applicability and completely out of context.

For example, the Prop 29 people are crying, “no more taxes!”

Well, this isn’t more taxes on anyone BUT smokers.  The same people who have made a conscious decision to smoke and inevitably will be a HUGE burden on our health system.

They’re crying, “but the money won’t go to fix our state’s fiscal problems or help with unemployment or education!”

Yes, that’s right, it’s going to fund CANCER research… the very thing smokers NEED.

They’re crying, “but only 20% will be used for prevention!”

Yes, that’s right, because making smoking prohibitively expensive IS the prevention — tons of studies show price (affordability) is the greatest deterrent.  Truth is, we probably should raise it to $2 a pack and blow off any prevention advertising/activities and use 100% of the money for the needed research.

And so on.

It’s quite an effective approach being used by the tobacco companies.

It’s also absolutely offensive to thinking voters out there.

Hopefully we still have some of those left.

These days analysts are quick to draw comparisons between 2012 and 2008… in fact, many are saying we’re in for a repeat of global recession.

It’s tempting to do so.  The world is still a mess… even more so.

There are a TON of similarities and differences between 2012 and 2008… economically, socially, politically, etc.

But, according to my past writings, one counts above all else.

Not unemployment.  Not housing or subprime.  Not currencies or sovereignties-on-the-brink.

But, the behavior of oil.

In June 2008, oil was skyrocketing.  That made the cost of everything more expensive.  It was the biggest, most giant, humongous tax on the entire world.  So much so that the world said, “enough!” and stopped spending.

That’s when the engine of the world simply stopped.

When an engine stop, things stall.  And that’s exactly what happen to the world in 2008.  Bingo, global recession.

But that’s not happening right now.  In June 2012, oil is falling.

If oil continues this trend, things will become a cheaper… just like at the end of 2008… in fact, if there are any notable similarities, it’s that one.  Oil dropping in 2008 was the greatest stimulus in the world… hopefully falling oil prices provide a bit of a kick for us in 2012, too.

But, at the very least, if oil doesn’t spike, there shouldn’t be a cliff for us to go over quite yet.

That’s what I’ve been writing about for years.  Guess it’s time to see if my oil theory holds water.