Monday, November 30, 2009

Solar Cells on way to becoming economical

From the BBC:

" panels would be cost-competitive with energy from the grid for half the homes in Europe by 2020 - without a subsidy."

Studies are showing that they last longer than expected, bringing down lifetime cost.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I found this incredible. Silverdome sells for $583,000.

I guess there's not much resale value for older sports stadiums or the land associated with them.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Fantasy Art

I've been getting into Fantasy Art recently and Todd Lockwood's work has stood out to me. This might be my favorite image of his - called Transitions. This one called Lava Magess is pretty cool too.


How about this story. Wow!

Belgian says he was alert but mute for 23 years.

Rom Houben says he lay trapped in his paralyzed body, aware of what was going on around him but unable to tell anyone or even cry out.... Houben's condition has since been diagnosed as a form of "locked-in syndrome," in which people are unable to speak or move but can think and reason.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Spider Silk Tapestry

As highlighted on the Marginal Revolution Blog.

Spider Silk Tapestry. Apparently it can be done.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Practicing Guitar some

The corporate band is starting up again, so I've been practicing and playing guitar a bit more than I normally would.

I guess I wanted to post a bit about memory, or muscle memory, or whatever it is. The last time I played the lines in the song "Smooth" (Santana/Rob Thomas) was about 6 months ago. It's amazing how a quick refresher can bring so much of a song back so quickly. And beyond that, why would my mind remember (with brief refresher from tabs) so well something so intricate as guitar lines from 6 months ago - guitar lines that I hadn't played once over that time period? And how long would that kind of memory last going unused?

From an evolutionary standpoint it gets me to thinking about seasonal things - like something you only do in the spring and forget about until the next spring rolls around. Are we wired to hold on to these learned skills for 1 year? 2 years? How long was it adaptively useful to program us to remember these things?

And does this type of memory preclude other new learning? Example: If my brain is saving the space for "Smooth" - is it preventing that space from being used for other perhaps more useful things?

Anyhow, that's the wondering of the day.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Green Tech

Here's a real good piece by Thomas Friedman for green tech. Basic argument is regardless of reality or non-reality of global warming, 2 other key trends make investing in green tech crucial
1. The world population is projected to increase by 2.5 billion people over the next 40 yrs. That's a 37% increase in population.
2. It's going to take a lot of energy to "feed, clothe, house and transport" an additional 2.5 billion people who want to consume more like Americans.
3. If we don't invest in green energy and energy alternatives, our enemies who dominate the oil producing parts of the world will only grow that much stronger.
4. Plus innovation is what we're historically good at - take advantage of our strengths.

Anyhow, I very much like the way he thinks on green tech - and note the case above is independent of how I may or may not feel about climate impacts.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Easing out of some stock positions

I raised a bit of cash. Still recovering from big losses in some positions, but sold my remaining shares of VDSI at a big loss - and sold some of my largest position in CTSH Cognizant Tech - more for diversification than anything - CTSH has been very good to me. CTSH is still my biggest holding, but just about 25% smaller now. I'm trying to be disciplined about selling both losers and portions of stocks on the way up to prevent getting top heavy in positions. Gives me room to buy back in on pullbacks too if I still like.

Also trying to adhere to stop loss rules of around 20% loss in a position over 3mo get's cut loose. I've mad a decent sized bet on RIMM/Blackberry and am down on it a bit now. It'll be a test of whether I can follow my new stop loss rule if it drops further.

current holdings:
CTSH Cognizant
RIMM Research in Motion
GRMN Garmin (down big on this)
DECK Deckers
HANS Hanson Natural
GME Gamestop
MLR Miller Industries
BID Southebys

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Detroit - back to nature

this article has some interesting pictures that show how large parts of Detroit are literally going back to nature. Portions look like today's version of ghost towns.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Heroic Fort Hood Policewoman

Read about the policewoman who charged and stopped the gunman at Fort Hood.


Sergeant Munley — a woman with a fierce love of hunting, surfing and other outdoor sports — bolted from her car, yanked her pistol out and shot at Major Hasan. He turned on her and began to fire. She ran toward him, continuing to fire, and both she and Major Hasan went down with several bullet wounds, Mr. Medley said.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

New word for the day: Florify

It's been a while since I contributed a new word to the English language and I figured today was as good as any. I stumbled across this word by a typo, but I like it.

Proposed New word: Florify
Definition: To enhance with flowers.
Usage: The landscapers florified the home with plantings around the walk and along the drive.

I did a google search and apparently florify is used by some company that rebuilds the natural bio in your gut/digestive tract, but that's not the usage of florify I intend here.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Why Healthcare costs so much in the U.S.

Here's an interesting story in the Washington Post that links to charts comparing the costs of common healthcare usage units in the U.S. vs. other countries. His conclusion is that we don't necessarily consume more healthcare - it's just that we're paying alot more for the same thing - our system isn't very good at buying healthcare.

Average cost per hospital day:
U.S.: $3181
Canada: $837
France: $1050
Germany $550
Netherlands: $502
Spain: $579

This is just one of many chart comparisons shown. Really good stuff.

I think we've gotta admit something is seriously broken/wrong with our health care system before we're willing to move on to try something else. To a large degree I think simply the idea that centralized healthcare can work better than the free market alternative is "ideologically incompatible" with the standard American mental framework that we discard the possibility that the free market has completely failed the country when it comes to healthcare. It's not even a close debate in my book but we still want to hang onto this broken thing we have for some reason.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

China authors concerned about copyright

I'm a fan of protecting intellectual property and copyright, however I do find it funny that China cares too given that it's widely considered the global home of pirated music and DVDs.

In general I'm a fan of Google's efforts to build an online book libraries mentioned above - especially for out of print books - provided compensation can be agreed to for authors and publishers. Google has produced considerable societal benefit through its web search engines, and I think there's a lot more to be gained by being able to search books.