Monday, January 31, 2011

The Future of Moving?

I'm packing this week to move to a new home. My life is being lived entirely in the realm of cardboard. I am deep in the corrugation.

I know how people moved before cardboard boxes: they were either rich, and used trunks, or poor, and didn't have possessions.

And I know how people have moved for the past 60 years: cardboard boxes.

But I find myself wondering: how might technology ease and improve this process, short of matter transporters? I can't imagine, but it seems impossible that such a primitive and painful rigamarole will remain the norm for centuries.

Assuming civilization survives and technology continues its advance, there will surely be some improvement. And the fact that I can't imagine it fascinates and intrigues me. The opaqueness means it will be something really cool!

(My friend Bill Monk speculates that photographic memory will be created by vitamins, allowing one to recall the location of every packed item).

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

SOTU For ADD Types

Whether you caught it last night or not, check out Brian Lehrer's excellent thumbnail summary of the State of the Union speech.

Report from Seat 53F

Me: Can you please show me how to turn on the light? Sorry I accidentally hit the "call flight attendant" button.

Sharri: Right here, sir. The "call flight attendant" button is only for if you're feeling ill.

Me: I feel great!

Sharri: That's super, sir.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Bad News Re: SIGA

Some bad news from the Pharmathene trial yesterday for defendent SIGA. At the close, Judge Parsons, who won't rule until at least April, said:

“It is very much of a crapshoot as to where this whole thing is going to come out,” Parsons said. “There might be a way to work through these uncertainties that leave both companies fairly well off and no company with an all-or-nothing position.
That's a nasty sounding statement, and I won't try to spin it positively. And, indeed, SIGA's stock price fell 5% when this came out late yesterday (though, reassuringly, it held steady in after hours trading). I've previously advocated settling with Pharmathene, and that settlement just got a whole lot more expensive. But really what the judge is saying here is what judges are always fond of saying: settle before I knock the bejesus out of one or both of you. So we could argue about which side most deserves knocking (I think PIP is a sleaze machine), but both know what must be done.

SIGA will soon receive a contract worth $500M to $2.8B. It's being held up by a technical challenge which the government has taken steps to sidestep. Foreign orders are extremely likely (see my previous writings on SIGA for more details), as is an update on SIGA's promising pipeline. And it's important to bear in mind that SIGA's stock price has been pre-suppressed by the uncertainty of this trial, a cloud over its head for the past few years.

Pharmathene may get an 8 or 9 figure settlement. They may even get a share of the proceeds of ST-246 (though, God, I hope not). But at least some of this peril was already "baked in" to SIGA's stock price - and yesterday's mere 5% fall reflects this. And because huge revenue is imminent, I'm still unconcerned about SIGA's long term prospects. I predict a big pop upon even a large settlement announcement, though it remains to be seen whether that or the government contract is announced first. Either way: up.

So if there's more selling next week, I'd strongly suggest scooping up bargains. The key to investing, after all, is a willingness to march against the flow.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

An Inside Report from the Spiderman Musical

The soon-to-launch $65 million Broadway production of Spiderman will be the most expensive, most ambitious, most hyped (and perhaps most delayed) Broadway musical ever. Julie Taymor ("The Lion King") will direct, and Bono (U2) wrote the music.

I have a very good friend in the company. And while she's a positive, upbeat sort of person, with incentive to hope for the best about what she hopes will be her meal ticket for years to come, she reports, glumly, that Taymor has overreached.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Apple: Told You So! ;)

So Apple's stock dipped to $328, then shot back up to $348, as I predicted it would. Congrats to all who made themselves a quick 6% gain (not a bad gain for an entire year in this economy)!

Apple's stock is twitchy. Negative news will throw it, even if it's about factors that can't thwart their overall progress. Buying on these twitchy dips is smart, because Apple's upward trajectory will remain nearly inexorable, at least for a while.

As I explained last year, most current computer users don't need computers, and would be far better served by iPads. And the remainder, who do need computers, would be far better served by iPads for much of what they currently use their computers for.

In time, iPad will face serious competition. But for now, Apple has unrealized "first mover" value to reap, having been first out of the gate (and out of the gate with a remarkably mature, thoughtful product...which will be improved and updated as aggressively as Apple's $50B war chest will allow). So I'll hold my Apple stock for at least another year or two, regardless of Steve Jobs' medical condition, antenna performance, stolen prototypes, or whatever other yadda yadda the chattering classes come up with. In fact, I'll buy more each time the stock price twitches downward.

Two Cool Web Pages

Thanks to the commenter on my previous article who recommended the thoroughly swell xkcd comics (particularly this one, which pertained to that article).

xkcd, in turn,
recommends Wikipedia's superlatively awesome List of common misconceptions, which I didn't previously know about.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Buy Apple Quick!

On October 13, with Apple stock at $300, I predicted it would go to $400. And, for that matter, I called the iPad success back in January of last year when shares were $200.

Yesterday, Apple closed just short of $350. Today, it will take a beating as a result of Steve Job's medical leave announcement. And that means a bargain!

I'd very strongly suggest buying when the price drops this morning. Apple will still reach $400. The iPad remains underrated for all reasons mentioned in the links above. And Jobs will continue to offer input, his stand-in, C.O.O. Tim Cook, did great work during Jobs' two previous medical leaves, and the Jobs-created pipeline will take a few years to play out.

Really, swoop in and buy some early, when the price plummets. Today's selling will be entirely irrational.

De-Slogging, Re-Slogging, and the Disappearance of My Chow-Dar

Why have I slowed down my posting pace?

Interesting story. For the past decade, my chowhounding was flawless (aside from one bakery disaster in Halifax back in 2005). Which is to say: every time I thought a restaurant looked good, it
was good. Every time! It was uncanny, and at first it made me anxious. I wondered whether I was losing my discernment, and whether I'd still appreciate peaks if I experienced no valleys. But eventually I grew used to it. If I knew in my bones that an eatery would be stunningly great, that knowledge alone offered full chowhounding satisfaction. Actually eating seemed nearly superfluous. I knew how it would all taste, even driving by at 40 m.p.h..

Then, about three weeks ago, I lost it. I've had a string of failures, interspersed with something even more galling: mediocrity. I can no longer tell good from bad from afar. I now venture into unfamiliar restaurants with absolutely no idea how the food will taste. I am a

But the law of conservation of freakiness has cut in. At the same moment my beloved chowhounding skills vanished, out popped, in its stead, the most clever business idea I could ever imagine. So I, who dislike business and who's never cared much about money, find myself back in the entrepreneurial death grip. It's still not about money, though. While the idea has nothing to do with food, it will, in a sense, complete the mission I started with Chowhound.

More details later (for one thing, I may be forced to spend the winter in Poland). But for now, I'll be pretty scarce. In the meanwhile, if you're looking for something to read, there are hundreds of entries here, most of them still timely and pertinent. Start, if you'd like, with the "Popular Entries" to the left. And I'll be back when I can!

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