Thursday Nov 20, 2008

In Need of an Economic Strategy

Michael Porter, the business strategy guru from Harvard, writes about "Why America Needs an Economic Strategy".

His essay deserves a careful read by business and political leaders in the U.S.


Tuesday Nov 18, 2008

Generation Graphics

This graphic display of U.S. housing starts, based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau and published by The Wall Street Journal, grabbed my attention.

Real Estate prices are actually a complex non-linear function of interest rates, housing starts, employment, and existing re-sale inventory — and yes, location.

Tuesday Oct 23, 2007

Occupational Hazards

Another Washington Post report ("US Raid of Baghdad Sadr City Kills 49"), published only yesterday, should make it plainly clear why vast majorities of Iraqis want US occupation of their country to end. (For 2-year-old Ali Hamed's picture, in the aftermath, see here.)

From the Iraqi perspective, besides the inhumanity of even a single occurrence of it, the killing is hardly an isolated accident. In fact, the regularity of such "incidental" killings are so predictable that it seems to have been judged by most US media to be no longer "news worthy," and we hear of it not, in the regular course of our life, in this land.

[If you wonder why I'm writing this, see here.]

Monday Jul 09, 2007

Early July

This first week of July, I spent about three days in Vancouver Island, including the ferry trips. It was very warm and pleasant--a good place to relax and spend some vacation days. I know I should have used a few more days and explored the island some more towards its northern tip but I also had the ambition to drive the Oregon coastline and see some of its vast, although windy, public beaches.

Saturday Jan 20, 2007

Little Canadian Comedy on the Prairie


Zarqa Nawaz

U.S. TV broadcasters continue to debate the desirability of Zarqa Nawaz' Little Mosque on the Prairie before showing it to their American audience. 

In the meantime, you can find torrents for Little Mosque here. To load these torrents, consider Azureus which has a great Java torrent client fit for various platforms.

Last time I checked, the "swarms" for these torrents were quite large, composed of several hundreds. Most peers were complete and sharing, and download rates were very high. So, the whole thing can probably be down-loaded in less than 1 hour, perhaps in 1/2 an hour if the number of peers continue to be large.

I've included YouTube renditions of the first episode below. Apparently, this first episode of Nawaz' little sitcom has become the most watched Canadian sitcom episode ever. The ads are mixed in. (The second and third episodes seem to have been broadcast in Canada but cannot yet be found on YouTube.) 

InsideCBC.Com, the official blog of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation covers the show. CBS carries an interview with Ms. Nawaz.

 


Monday Jan 08, 2007

Green Colonialism

Guy Dinmore, the Washington reporter for Financial Times, has today (January 8, 2007) written one of his best pieces of journalism about the largest embassy in the World being finished in Baghdad.

[Read More]

Friday Jan 05, 2007

Somalia vs. U.S.A.

One of my daughters read these statistics for me this Christmas holiday while we were at Lake Tahoe

US has the largest number of cars per person: 1/2.

Somalia has the smallest number of cars per person: 1/1000 (Or was it 1/10,000 ? I'll have to check when the book returns form my daughter's school desk!)

Source: Guinness World Records 2007.

Notes:

Guinness World Records web site can be found here.

A recent article offering an alternative view on the situation in Somalia can be found here.

Thursday Dec 14, 2006

Disruptive with TV

Roberto Chinnici puts some probing questions to non-mainstream English language TV channels. His solution to their problems to break into the U.S. market: Use the web to your advantage to be disruptive with conventional TV programming.

To address the complaint regarding economic cost of bandwidth, finding a way to include decent advertising may prove sufficient. Furthermore, there can be a web-based subscription model that collects small subscription fees (or micropayments) for access to programming. This will work because bandwidth will still be able to serve all users particularly if programming does not emphasize real, real-time news and breaks content into pieces available separately.

Tuesday Dec 05, 2006

The Tale of Two Diverging Economies

Chris Giles and Ralph Atkins of Financial Times tell the tale of two diverging economies.

While there are many "good examples of the new European economy: robust, diversified and able to sustain growth without a US motor...anecdotes cannot supply conclusive proof of Europe’s new resilience," they write. "In recent months, the debate has been fierce, with opinion among economists split roughly equally between optimism and pessimism." Wild differences seem to be part of the common course when it comes to much of economic opinion. It seems that Europe is finding its own internal growth engines, and having continually improved its infrastructure and expanded on trade with others while paying very little military tax, it has braced itself to weather changes.

A similar story by Marcus Walker appears on page one of The Wall Street Journal on December 6: "Europe is Giving Global Economy A Surprise Boost Amid U.S. Lull."

In the meantime, ties remain and mutual investment between the two economies has dwarfed all others.

Friday Nov 24, 2006

State of US Education

Valerie Strauss of The Washington Post writes about U.S. educational institutions. The article summarizes findings in "Condition of Education" reports published by the U.S. Department of Education. There is a wealth of information in the original reports. For example, at the undergraduate level for every school year from 89-90 to 03-04, more business degrees were awarded than any other degrees.

Sunday Nov 12, 2006

Koppel on Social Change

People in their 30s and 40s may still remember Ted Koppel from "the hostage crisis." He made a career out of reporting it. Now, for the Discovery Channel, he has filed a new video documentary on Iran, speaking to a number of individuals and opinion makers. While still rooted in the common biases of the Western and American discourse on Iran, it provides a platform for a potentially better understanding of the immense transformations that have followed the Islamic Revolution of 1979 by virtue of interviews conducted with a relatively broad range of Iranians. (Most of those interviewed, either appear to know little about those biases or, out of sheer politeness, let Koppel get away with them. A good training in journalism would make it clear to anyone that every question can come loaded with assumptions. However, one needs a good sense and training as a politician to respond or to unload and disclose the assumptions.)

Sunday Nov 05, 2006

From Yorkville to San Francisco

There is a big difference between bloggers and blogging and professional journalism. For an example, see this video production by two British journalists (from The Guardian) on the mid-term U.S. elections which shows how professional journalists with a bit of resources and a bit of freedom of action can easily outdo any media-caster (of any variety of media) in very good style even if not in the full range of content.

Friday Nov 03, 2006

Productivity Growth Slows

A recent Wall Street Joural article reports a decrease in productivity growth rate in the U.S. from an average of 2.8% in the last decade to 1.3%. While we commonly hear that productivity can grow by the rise in population and by the application of technology, we should also remind ourselves that organizational and process innovation as well as a healthy social infrastructure can also have a tremendous impact on economic growth. Productivity growth represents "a crucial factor in controlling inflation, boosting profits and improving living standards."

Productivity also matters to policy makers at the Federal Reserve. If it slows, the economy's growth potential -- the "speed limit" at which it can grow without stoking inflation -- also declines. Recently, Fed staffers have been nudging down their estimate of the economy's future growth potential, a move that reflects lower estimates of productivity growth. In the current environment, that means the Fed might have to keep interest rates higher for longer to keep inflation under control.

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