Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Sayonara, bubble!

Sayonara, bubble!

Recently, there has been a mini-bubble in articles claiming that the housing bubble is about to pop.

I don't pay that much attention to most articles, since a wise friend told me a long time ago that articles are simply the filler that publications jam into the holes between advertisements.

However, when one of the world's greatest investors, and certainly the world's leading expert on bonds says that the bubble's end is nigh, and backs it up with statistical analysis, I pay attention.

I refer you now to the great Bill Gross.

For those of you who are lazy, here is the rub:

"I think it’s pretty clear that real housing prices have peaked on average four to six quarters after the central bank first raises interest rates and following what appears to be 200 basis points of short-term rate hikes. The tightening then continues (too much exuberance!) another two quarters thereafter for what looks like a total cyclical increase of 300 basis points or so. With the caveat that many countries in this study have housing markets with greater sensitivity to short rates than our own, I find it illuminating that our own Fed has raised policy rates for nearly five quarters now to the tune of 275 basis points, dead on the average point where real housing prices have peaked over the past 35 years."

Monday, October 03, 2005

I Have Narcissistic Personality Disorder

I Have Narcissistic Personality Disorder
My wife often asks, "What's wrong with you?" Now we know.

Thanks to David Hornik, I can safely be diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), or as Hornik calls it, "VCitis."

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is "indicated by five (or more) of the following:"
  1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g. exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements).
  2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.
  3. Believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).
  4. Requires excessive admiration.
  5. Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations.
  6. Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends.
  7. Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
  8. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.
  9. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.
Hmmm, now that I'm officially mentally ill, I wonder if I qualify for protection under the ADA act?

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Link-O-Rama II: One Week Of Links

Link-O-Rama II: One Week Of Links
I recently spent a week away from my RSS aggregator, the product of the crunch of preparing for and participating in the BEAWorld trade show. As a result, I ended up reading a week's worth of posts on Friday.

While I can't recommend this sort of information overload on a regular basis, it did provide me with an interesting perspective, and simply allowing so many ideas to bounce around in my RAM generated at least on interesting business idea (good enough that I'm not going to offer it for free on this blog!).

At any rate, this is what I noticed this week:

More than 80 percent of the roughly $1.5 billion in contracts awarded by FEMA after Hurricane Katrina were done with no bids or limited competition. That's atrocious. Now compare that to my own experience with RentACoder--I had two projects that I needed implemented. First, I got a quote from a friend-of-a-friend: $40,000. I put the projects on RentACoder, and within a week, I had found good vendors to tackle both for less than $1,000. If only the government had the same kind of agility!

Another good tip from Worthwhile to overcome negativity. One CEO I worked with described this as the "whoop de do" syndrome. That is, people who would raise objections without offering options or solutions. To overcome this, for every objection, come up with five possible solutions. This will you develop the habit of focusing on solutions, not problems.

Worthwhile talks about how we now live in the "Passion Economy"--people are demanding emotional connection and satisfaction from their work, not just a paycheck. I couldn't agree more. Balance in one's life isn't simply a matter of working less--it's a matter of feeling fully alive when working. There are few things I'd rather do than my preferred work!

The other side of the passion economy is what constitutes burnout--I'll give you a hint, it isn't long hours. "Job burnout has more to do with the lack of appreciation and reward an employee receives for his or her efforts than an increased work load....Those suffering from job burnout feel no sense of accomplishment from and no control over their work lives."

One of the solutions to finding one's workplace passion is authenticity. I'm a big admirer of Marcus Buckingham's work, which shows that the key to success and happiness isn't ameliorating one's weakenesses, but playing to one's strengths and talents. Focus on doing what comes naturally, not being something that you're not.

One objection that some might raise to this approach is that it says that people can't change, while our own lives are replete with examples of such changes. Personally, the way that people perceive me has changed dramatically over the years. However, the key is not that I changed--it's simply that I was able to apply my strengths from less-visible to more visible areas.

What the hell is Web 2.0? Beats me, but reading this list might help. Personally, I favor Dave Winer's definition, which is that it's a term invented by VCs, entrepreneurs, and the media in the hopes of generating another bubble. And it seems to be working.

Ever feel like you're a techno-dinosaur? You're not alone. I try to talk with younger folks all the time to forestall my inevitable descent into crotchetyness.

As regular readers know, I'm obsessed with mortality and longevity. Which is why I was fascinated by this article on a strain of genetically-engineered mice that can re-grow severed limbs and vital organs. What's exceptionally exciting is the following: "When cells from the regenerative mice were injected into normal mice, the normal mice adopted the ability to regenerate." Now that's kick-ass. Will we someday be able to heal fatal injuries and illnesses with a simple injection?,1286,68962,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_1

Of course, skeptics will point out that mice and men are far from identical. Well, how about this story on how stem cells were able to restore feeling in a paraplegic? The patient had been injured in an accident 19 years ago. Yet after the treatment, the results were miraculous. "The patient could move her hips and feel her hip skin on day 15 after transplantation. On day 25 after transplantation her feet responded to stimulation."

Even more importantly, these are umbilical cord stem cells, freely available with no taint of abortion, so there should be no controversy in terms of their use. I hope that U.S. policy makers recognize this, and don't block research into this incredible technology.

Of course, stupidity knows no's leading Democrat Dianne Feinstein on the "peer to peers" menace.

From the terminator files....the South Koreans are planning on building combat robots. "According to design blueprints released during a meeting of science-related ministers, the robot will have six or eight extendable legs with wheels allowing it to move like an insect over uneven terrain. The robot will be armed with various weapons and will operate both by remote control and its own artificial intelligence system."

You know that a meme is overblown when people start using it to pitch their companies. "It's the Wikipedia of..." is the new "Long Tail."

And last, but not least, GIANT SQUID!