Sunday, December 28, 2008

Friday, December 05, 2008

Could VC be a Casualty of the Recesssion?

The lack of capital barriers for internet startups means more competition for internet startups. Funding used to be a differentiating factor; it just isn't anymore. VC needs to refocus on capital hungry areas like alternative energy and healthcare.

The founder mentality needs to be imbued into graduating chemical engineers, mechanical engineers, biologists and physicists.

We need thousands of startups that work on our society's biggest problems.

Probably a platform for energy startups is needed. Something transformative to the energy industry as the internet was for software.

Daschle Launches Push for Health-Care Overhaul -

Maybe tt and I should hold a healthcare party?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


Everbody loves a winner. 
What's the most popular irish blessing? 
"May you have no idea how to make a long story short."

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Journalist's Beating Draws Kremlin's Ire -

From the article:
"Some suspect it is a ploy to defuse social tension at a time of financial crisis and to deflect attention from the closely watched trial of murdered investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya."

Boy it is tense these days. You know people are stressed out when a highly publicized beating softens the public mood.

Monday, December 01, 2008

wordle is cool

Wordle generates word clouds for any snippet of text or url. Here's the wordle of for today:

A Crude Awakening

A Crude Awakening paints a bleak picture for the supply of oil. Or, more poignantly, the bleakness of a world without abundant and cheap energy. The point ignored by the film, though, is the abundance of coal in the US. The most effective means of realizing the energy potential in coal is electric power plants. This is an unattractive option, because of the dire environmental impact, and the relative inconvenience of coal versus oil (pretty hard to fly a coal powered commercial airliner).

Friday, November 28, 2008

My Health Care Plan

My first principle for American health care policy is all tax payers should have _the best possible_ health care.

In modern society I believe health care should be a fundamental benefit of society, not a privilege. But, the question is: how can we guarantee coverage and still promote a competitive dynamic to drive American medicine to be the finest possible care?

To start, we completely shutdown the health insurance industry. In its place the federal government provides health care spending accounts. Each person physically located in the US, who is either a citizen, green card holder, work visa holder, or a tax payer for 1 year, you get an account.

The accounts are funded based on a licensed and boarded doctor's assessment of your health. Doc says you have no problems, you get a small fund sufficient for your annual checkups and such. Doc says you have diabetes or cancer, you get sufficient funds to buy services and drugs from the best institutions.

If you show up at the Emergency Room and a doctor says you need emergency care, Uncle Sugar picks up the tab.

We train physicians to make critical decisions. We should empower them to make those decisions and hold them accountable to the highest ethical standards. Our best minds should be drawn to medical professions by high esteem, social and ethical conscience, and pay commensurate with their talent. (Bias alert: My wife is a doctor).

If a medical professional acts fraudulently to score government dollars: jail. Real jail.

With your spending account, you can buy health care from any accredited medical provider. You can spend on whatever you deem necessary. Under normal, healthy conditions, when you run out, you run out. If you have a serious disease or condition, we as Americans commit to caring for each other; the ill should essentially have a blank check.

If you are wealthy enough to afford supplementing your account: God Bless America. But if you become sick, rich or poor, you receive the best care we can muster and the rest of us pay for it. We pay for it because we can, because we are in life together, and because caring for one another will restore a basic dignity to American society.

My plan will cost an absolute fortune. However, it is the most pervasive and sustained stimulus facility possible. We'll drive job creation in nursing, doctoring, pharmaceutical research, medical devices, imaging equipment, and fitness. Businesses will stay in the US because workers will demand the best health care. Those who can will compete for jobs here and we will restore immigration as one of the most potent drivers of American economic growth. We will relieve american business of the health care albatross.

Welfare state you say? Bunk. We throttle spending based on doctors' diagnosis of illness. We only release dollars for medical care. We spend on people when they need it. Medical service providers will have to compete on quality and on cost. If you want a car, a house, some pizza and tickets to the movies: get a job.

If you, as many people do, travel from abroad to seek medical treatment, you are welcome. You'll just have to pick up your own tab. Medical tourism could be a huge, profitable, and taxable industry.

If you are an illegal alien: you have to pick up the tab. If you played by the rules, and you have a work visa, we cover you.

Ultimately, we should double the student population at medical schools, nursing schools, and technician programs.

Without the perverse incentives of health insurance, where inefficiency means lower costs, healthcare efficiency and effectiveness will accelerate to an incredible degree.

Overall, we'll spend more on health care. But we will finally get what we pay for: the best medical system possible.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Treasury Not Planning to Buy Bad Loans, Assets -

Wait, what?
Matching funds sounds like a good idea, but wasn't the entire idea of the Troubled Assets Relief Program to purchase the troubled assets? Maybe this is better, but should Treasury be turning a $700 Billion-with-a-B plan on a dime?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

WSJ: Five Myths About the Great Depression

Are we sure we even understand the last financial calamity? It has only been 80 years, have we had enough time to sort it out? Seems to me that the new, and as yet not fully understood, factor for the US is the soaring and concentrated foreign debt we owe to China.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Thank goodness Saturday Night Live is funny again. All it took was the most important election in recent times, and the worst financial crisis since the depression. 

Saturday, November 01, 2008

If you are reading this blog, odds are you also know Nader. If you haven't read Nader and Allison's travelogue, you really need to check it out. They don't travel; they adventure (fencing, fighting, chases, escapes, true love). You should also look at n's photography website, it is the national geographic of blogs.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

NYT: Government Said to Be Discussing Plan to Aid Homeowners

Chairwoman Bair has been the lone voice in the administration advocating for increased focus on the homeowner and consumer. If memory serves, I think her first public criticism of TARP's lack of treatment for homeowners was about two weeks back.

The proposal is a little fuzzy to me, but the focus is brilliant: deleverage the consumer.

Monday, October 27, 2008

 Open Source Hardware reported by wired. Really interesting - the online ECB manufacturers mentioned in the howto section are even more amazing, if you ask me. Someone should build an opensource gaming system. That'd get some traction guaranteed.
Johnny Chung Lee is my hero. 

NYT: To Survive, Net Start-Ups Slow Their Metabolism

Hmm. Seems like everyone is on the hunker down bandwagon. I'm not positive, but couldn't investors shut down a startup and distribute the cash? Personally, I wouldn't expect an online music retail play to work, even with 3 years and $20 million. How many online music players does the world actually need?

Seems to me the healthy advice of "cut costs" is obfuscating the permanent necessicities of growing a business: solve a real problem for customers who will pay you, and do it as efficiently as you can.

The "hall pass" comment just ticks me off.,%20Net%20Start-Ups%20Slow&st=cse

Integration Watch: So, you want to write a little language? - SD Times On The Web

Oh, so very tempting. I'd design a language that was optimized for coding on a blackberry - limited character accessibility and a tiny screen. That way I could code while commuting.

The Age of Prosperity Is Over -

In case you wanted to believe swift action would save us from total ruin, read this editorial in the journal. You'll want to sit down first.

Thursday, October 23, 2008 foreclosures jump

The article says Americans living paycheck to paycheck could be at greater risk. Who in America isn't living paycheck to paycheck?

States passed legislation to lengthen the notice required to homeowners who default on their mortgages. So, actual foreclosures fell while the pipeline filled with notices. This month the first foreclosures affected by the laws are being processed. As a result, there is a big jump, and more to come. At least the states have more visibility into impending foreclosure rates.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Jack started move around more this fall, and find his way into more fun.
Sequoia Capital provided a grim presentation to investors earlier in October. The preso found its way onto the internet, and is embedded below. The WSJ BizTech blog noted the preso in a short posting about Sequoia's $15M third round for AdMob. Note that the first slide isn't the scariest. Only the stoutest readers should proceed. I recommend full screen mode so you can read the charts carefully.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Boomer Bust: How Will the Economy Rebound Without Post-War Babies Financing Their Harleys? -

This article makes an almost philosophical or ethnographic argument about boomers and their spending habits. It seems simpler to say boomers brought unprecedented demand to the housing market when they started buying, and they are bringing unprecedented pressure now that they are selling.

Monday, October 20, 2008

NYT: Taking a Peek at the Experts' DNA

The story below announces a remarkable social experiment. I can't imagine this information creating more bias than something far simpler and probably more telling like your age, your parents life span, or whether you smoke.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

In the debate tonight, McCain essentially proposed my plan for the credit crisis:
“I would order the Secretary of the Treasury to immediately buy up the bad home loan mortgages in America and renegotiate at the new value of those homes, at the diminished value of those homes and let people make those, be able to make those payments and stay in their homes. Is it expensive? Yes.”
(quote taken from the ny times)
while I think Obama heeded my advice: to explain the situation to Americans:
"OBAMA: Well, Oliver, first, let me tell you what's in the rescue package for you. Right now, the credit markets are frozen up and what that means, as a practical matter, is that small businesses and some large businesses just can't get loans. If they can't get a loan, that means that they can't make payroll. If they can't make payroll, then they may end up having to shut their doors and lay people off. And if you imagine just one company trying to deal with that, now imagine a million companies all across the country. So it could end up having an adverse effect on everybody, and that's why we had to take action. But we shouldn't have been there in the first place."
(quote taken from cnn)
In the debate of regulate versus free market, I believe there is a pretty simple rule. The larger the institutions and markets, the greater risk they pose to the economy as a whole, the graver the need for regulation. The trillion dollar size of the credit default swap market is a simple, clear, unequivocal signal that the CDS market needs regulating. 
Bill O'Reilly launched into a withering diatribe against Barney Frank, while Frank was a guest on the show. Virtually every member of congress was influenced by Fannie and Feddie's lobbying machine; Mr. Frank was  almost certainly depending on company management for information and insight. But, does Mr. O'Reilly need to shout like a Boston commuter on the pike at 5.40pm? 

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Monday, September 29, 2008

FDR Moment Needed

Franklin Delano Roosevelt had a gift for explaining even the most complex challenges in a way that the majority of Americans could appreciate. FDR explained the depression and the second world war. In so doing FDR lead the way through the most trying challenges in US history (current events included).

Either President Bush, Senator McCain, or Senator Obama needs to explain the current crisis. The credit crisis hasn't yet tightened consumer access to financing, so it is difficult to appreciate how the problems extend beyond Wall Street. We need a leader who can articulate the source of the problems and the implications of typical Americans.

Only then can broad support among voters be built to support the kind of dramatic intervention needed. It is unrealistic for party leaders to expect congressmen and senators to vote counter to overwhelming constituent opposition.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Since I know as much about the financial crisis as McCain, Obama, or any member of Congress (which is to say nothing), I figured I could propose my own plan. The root of all the financial troubles is bad mortgages. Too many Americans bought houses they could not afford, by using "innovative" financing like adjustable rate mortgages, or even better, interest-only adjustable rate mortgages. Home buyers stretched as far as possible to finance purchases, the mortgage industry handed them more rope to hang themselves, and housing prices surged into a bubble because of the escalating availability of funds. So, to me, this just means many houses are mortgaged for more than their "real" market value, and many home owners are living with mortgages they can't afford. Everything else - mortgage back securities, mortgage insurance, credit defaults on institutions that own mortgage backs - are all financial leveraging and hocus-pocus. These instruments are evaporating and causing the financial industry to "de-leverage", which is a polite way of saying lose a huge amount of paper wealth. The game on Wall Street has been to re-package and pass around all these mortgages because Wall Street basically makes money on transactions. The more money changes hands, the better. So, besides the poor sobs who innovate on Wall Street, who cares about these paper losses? Pretty much anyone who needs to borrow money, which in America is everyone. Banks are folding at such a clip that banks are afraid to loan money to each other. To compensate, the banks charge each other more interest. To continue to make a profit, the banks charge businesses and consumers more interest. Taking loans is much less attractive, so fewer are taken, and basically the economy hits a real recession, maybe worse. So, what the hay is my plan? So far in this crisis, we've been shuffling the levered paper around. Everyone who holds the bad paper eventually suffers a credit downgrade, which means you need to post more collateral for loans and pay higher interest. That kicks off a spiral that leads quickly to insolvency. Now, I know Lehman Brothers is the proverbial fly on keester of the elephantine US Government. But we're talking about three quarters of a trillion dollars; the Federal Reserve's entire balance sheet is "just" a trillion dollars. I don't think it is a good idea for the US taxpayer to attempt to swallow all that bad debt. Instead, what if the individual property owners appeal to the US government in the event they are at risk of foreclosure. The government then buys the property from the bank holding the mortgage for tax appraisal value, and writes a new, affordable mortgage for the home owner. The difference, I think, is the US avoids absorption of the leveraged instruments. By only paying the current value of the underlying real estate the US would hold physical assets (the real estate) as well as mortgage obligations from home owners. It also focuses the expended funds to fend off foreclosures (many of the bundled mortgages are not at risk of default). Also, while this plan would stem a panic, it does not completely isolate irresponsible financial institutions and individuals from the free market.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Paulson's Deal-Making Skills Face a Crucial Test -

History will judge Secretary Paulson and Congress' action, or lack thereof, in this financial crisis. But, I have to believe Paulson will always garner high regard for his anticipation and preparedness. The WSJ mentions Paulson's "Break the Glass" scenrios. I find it remarkable, laudable, that he and his staff were ready with a plan ahead of the current turmoil.

Who knows if the Paulson plan will work or even pass. Regardless, I am impressed by the foresight to prepare the plan 9 months ago.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Quite a lot happened this summer. Todd graduated from Harvard. Jack went campin' with Nana and Grampin. Jack and Will hit the beach for the first time. We had a ball, despite the sleep depravation. I hope the fall is half the fun.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

wow Advent to Acquire Leading Research Management Solution (RMS) Provider Tamale Software

Monday, July 28, 2008

Dinner time means unbridled glee and cuteness that could stop a hurricane. Little man is sporting some fawcett hair and three teeth (one up, two down).

Friday, July 11, 2008

My wife is a physician. In doctor-speak she is in "medicine", which means she isn't a specialist. She works in a practice, caring for adults. As is typical for physicians, her earnings are proportionate to the number of clinical hours -- hours spent with patients. An arrangement that seems totally reasonable. But she spends (in my completely unscientific estimation) about 1-1.5x her patient time filing paperwork, much of which is for insurance purposes. Medical treatment depends on thorough records, so the time investment is understandable and necessary for the patient's care. But, no one pays for the hours of paperwork (besides the doctor of course). Insurance forms are extensive, but bear no cost for the insurance companies - they are only billed for clinical time. Paperwork is the most infamous time drain in medicine. But there is no incentive to reduce the time spent on paperwork because there is no cost - doctor's don't bill for it. It's just a hunch, but I suspect that if doctors billed insurance companies for hours spent on paperwork and other vital, but non-clinical time, we should quickly have a far more efficient medical system.

Monday, June 09, 2008

My brother Todd graduated from Harvard last week. In addition, he also won the class speaker award. If you have 6 minutes, you can watch Todd C. Fawcett regaling the crowd with his musings on "Personal Transformations":

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Introducing William Cornelius (and JackJack in a party HatHat):

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Friday, January 25, 2008

My mom ferreted out a picture of me when I was just a few hours old (yes the hair is real), so we wanted to compare. Kudos to mom for figuring out her scanner. Nothing motivates grandmas to use technology like grand kids -- both sets of grandparents have installed, configured, and repeatedly used AIM w/ video to call Jackie boy.
JF version 2.0JF version 3.0

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Meet Jack.

These are some pictures from when Jack was younger than most pastries:

And this is a video of Jack at about 1 hour: