Monthly Archives: January 2011

Wall Street 2 Quotes – The Best Ones..

If you are a fan of Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps then you will love these quotes. I can’t help myself watching the movie several times over just to pick up the extra nuance these words provide:

—-

Jacob Moore: If it weren’t for people who took risks, where would we be in this world?

—-

Gordon Gekko: Moral hazard is when they take your money and then are not responsible for what they do with it.

—-

Gordon Gekko: A fisherman always sees another fisherman from afar.

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Gordon Gekko: If there’s one thing I learned in prison it’s that money is not the prime commodity in our lives… time is.

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Jacob Moore: You wanna know what the mother of all bubbles was? Us. The human race. Scientists call it the Cambrian Explosion, from the Cambrian fauna.

—-

Jacob Moore: Bubbles are evolutionary. They kill excess, lean out the heard, but they are never completely destroyed. They just come back in different forms and when they burst they give light to a new day, always creating change.

—-

Jacob Moore: Are we going under? There are 15 thousand jobs on the line – 15 thousand! Are we going under?
Lewis Zabel (Frank Langella): You’re asking the wrong question, Jake.
Jacob Moore: What’s the right question?
Lewis Zabel: Who isn’t?

—-

Gordon Gekko: Don’t run when you lose, don’t whine when it hurts. It’s like the first grade, Jerry…nobody likes a crybaby.

—-

Jacob Moore: Mom, I love you, but I can not keep hemorrhage money for your insanity.What you need to do is go back to Henry and you need to get another job. Okay?
Sylvia Moore: Oh my god, do you mean like a real job? With a boss? Are you crazy?

—-

Jacob Moore: No matter how much money you make you’ll never be rich.
Gordon Gekko: That’s what you never got about these people. Its not about the money, its about the game.

—-

Gordon Gekko: When choosing between two evils, I like to try the one I haven’t tried before.

—-

Jacob Moore: Is this a threat?
Gordon Gekko: Absolutely.

Why “The Social Network” Should and Will Win Best Picture

It’s no secret I liked the Facebook movie, The Social Network. Not because Aaron Sorkin grossly sensualized or flat out changed details and aspects to make the story more compelling. Nor because Trent Reznor added a wicked awesome soundtrack that moved me to bop along to the melodic beats of base in my seat. And not because Justin Timberlake made Sean Parker appear significantly more attractive and cooler than I assume he ever was, is or will be. In all honesty, the film more closely resembles Clerks than The Hurt Locker.

I liked it because I identify and empathize with the nerds, geeks and dorks of the world and I was tired of seeing this stereotype beat up and bullied (or as I stated in this TV Blogo interview, “shoved into lockers”) time and time again in film and television. It was nice to see intellect triumph over brawn or prominence of family pedigree – literally the little guy prevail.

The world has changed. The Social Network demarcates a seminal point in the history of humankind – where more and more our lives are being lived in a virtual world and as I’ve noted previously, the people who are skilled in this environment wield tremendous power and influence. Senators and heads of states are literally flocking to Silicon Valley to understand – to comprehend – the power of technology. You control the medium, you control the process, you control the message and the outcome. This is Darwinism, this is survival of the fittest.

So while The Social Network is lacking in many factually correct details, whether folks like it or not, Mark Zuckerberg is our modern day Braveheart – the Gladiator of geeks. And he’s alive. Not simply a relic of the past. He is the future. The fact that his story was made into a major Hollwood film, an industry dominated by sports stars, war heroes and action figures, is significant.

Tinseltown makes no secret it loves a good “rags to riches” underdog story, which is why (although I have no doubt Colin Firth’s portrayal of King George VI will rightfully win him Best Actor), The Social Network should and will take home Best Picture. It is the true sequel to War Games. It is our zeitgeist.

Why "The Social Network" Should and Will Win Best Picture

It’s no secret I liked the Facebook movie, The Social Network. Not because Aaron Sorkin grossly sensualized or flat out changed details and aspects to make the story more compelling. Nor because Trent Reznor added a wicked awesome soundtrack that moved me to bop along to the melodic beats of base in my seat. And not because Justin Timberlake made Sean Parker appear significantly more attractive and cooler than I assume he ever was, is or will be. In all honesty, the film more closely resembles Clerks than The Hurt Locker.

I liked it because I identify and empathize with the nerds, geeks and dorks of the world and I was tired of seeing this stereotype beat up and bullied (or as I stated in this TV Blogo interview, “shoved into lockers”) time and time again in film and television. It was nice to see intellect triumph over brawn or prominence of family pedigree – literally the little guy prevail.

The world has changed. The Social Network demarcates a seminal point in the history of humankind – where more and more our lives are being lived in a virtual world and as I’ve noted previously, the people who are skilled in this environment wield tremendous power and influence. Senators and heads of states are literally flocking to Silicon Valley to understand – to comprehend – the power of technology. You control the medium, you control the process, you control the message and the outcome. This is Darwinism, this is survival of the fittest.

So while The Social Network is lacking in many factually correct details, whether folks like it or not, Mark Zuckerberg is our modern day Braveheart – the Gladiator of geeks. And he’s alive. Not simply a relic of the past. He is the future. The fact that his story was made into a major Hollwood film, an industry dominated by sports stars, war heroes and action figures, is significant.

Tinseltown makes no secret it loves a good “rags to riches” underdog story, which is why (although I have no doubt Colin Firth’s portrayal of King George VI will rightfully win him Best Actor), The Social Network should and will take home Best Picture. It is the true sequel to War Games. It is our zeitgeist.

Steve Jobs Health, Forced Sabbaticals, and His Brilliance

“No one wants to die,” said Steve Jobs. “And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.”

Those words are from a famous keynote Steve gave at Stanford in 2005, nearly a year after his brush with cancer. It is well worth a listen to for it’s inspiring message of Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish (text version). A message that Steve says he wishes for himself and perhaps one he now is forced to live by.

Last week on Jan 17, 2011 Steve announced that he is taking a medical leave of absence from Apple. This is his third medical leave, with the previous two for removal of cancerous tumor and a liver transplant. One can only guess what painful problem the man is facing now. You could also guess how this changes a person, what it does to you. Facing death and triumphant returns over and over. It got me thinking what Steve has accomplished after each of these bouts with death.

To uncover this I did a little research and the story starts on July 9, 1997, when Steve was named interim-CEO of Apple. It was the first of his triumphant returns. Twelve years earlier he had been forced out of the company and watched it slowly turn into a disaster. Facing crippling financial losses, record low stock prices, and even a denouncement from Michael Dell, “I’d shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders.”

Then in 1997, an acquisition brought Steve back into the company and he quickly took the reigns as CEO. Not long after things starting happening like small tectonic shifts. Three major products were announced and soon the world was dramatically altered:

  • 1998 – iMac
  • 2001 – iPod
  • 2003 – iTunes Store

All three were huge successes and quickly put Apple back on top. The iPod sold over 100 million units, the iTunes Store sold over 10 billion songs, and the iMac breathed life back into their computers. Together they brought the company back to profitability and, individually, they revolutionized computers, consumer electronics, and music.

Then in July of 2004, Steve was again forced to leave Apple, this time due to a cancerous tumor. After having it removed via the  Whipple procedure, Steve triumphantly returned and released the following:

  • 2005-06 – MacBook
  • 2007 – iPhone
  • 2008 – App store

Three even more successful products. Each one revolutionizing laptops, mobile phones, and, for the app store, creating a whole new paradigm. At this point the company was on the move with the stock price catapulting and revenues soaring.

Then, in 2009, Steve’s third forced sabbatical hit. This time it was a liver transplant, a common ailment arising from the Whipple procedure. Upon returning he released the:

  • 2010 – iPad

Another extremely successful product which appears to be revolutionizing computer operating systems and the entire computer industry.

This takes us back to the present day and the announcement of Steve’s fourth sabbatical. To which many are predicting not a another leave of absence but a final departure into the sunset. After all, Tim Cook is at the helm as he has been in the two previous sabbaticals. Plus, Steve has no need to keep going since he has already accomplished so much and left the company in such a profitable condition.

I can see that happening, but I can also imagine another possibility. One that is in line with the “stay hungry, stay foolish” mantra. Is it possible that Steve has come to love these vacations?

I mean look at what he has accomplished after each one, not even a delay in success or a few years for the product “to hit.” The gratification is so instant it’s like a perfect test for Dr. Pavlov.

I’m not being callous about his health either. Pancreatic cancer is one of those rare, one-in-a-million forms that is completely curable. Most patients are known to have perfectly normal, healthy lives nearly indistinguishable from any other patient. However, there can be complications like liver failure, and this latest medical leave means something else is wrong.

All of these are painful problems and I empathize for Steve, but it does point out that he could likely be poised for another triumphant return.

Why not? Sabbaticals exist for this very reason. Leave at a point of high success and/or anxiety to recover and recoup. It’s a time honored tradition that is too often derided by others. Our community spirit says to work, work to death.

In some ways the move is inspiring. A CEO taking off time to improve his health, be with his family, and then return to change the world.

That is awesome. How many other examples like that do we have?

Have you ever taken a sabbatical?

What would it take for you to take some time off and recoup?

Photo by Peter Denton

No! Every Child Cannot Get Straight A’s

In a previous post I asked the question: Can Every Child Get Straight A’s?

Oh wow, did I get some interesting responses. Every single person, except one, said no. The only person to say yes was my lady’s father, thanks Ravendad.

The overwhelming outcry was that students should not get straight A’s. Or, that it was an unreasonable or an unimportant expectation. Innumerable explanations were given in the comments and on Facebook. Here are some of them:

  • “There has to be losers in life”
  • “If you lower the bar enough, yes”
  • “Some kids just aren’t great at school”

Those were real comments. Others did give more complex answers with references to various experts (or pundits). But, I think the point stands, we have very low expectations for our children.

It’s no surprise that our education is barely competing worldwide with so few adults expecting us to do well. Many of us would probably like to blame this on schools or teachers. The documentary, Waiting For Superman, provides amunition for just that by pointing out all the problems and inadequacies they have.

Which is exactly where I draw the line. I get so worked up when adults blame our problems on schools, I even walked out on that movie in protest.

We do not have an education problem. Our schools are doing fine, if not exceptional. In every aspect of education our teachers, principals, and schools are improving. They are establishing uniform standards, trying new teaching methods, and in some cases radical reforms.

The results have been pathetic. Tiny gains or no gains all across the board.

Which has befuddled the entire country. You mean that money, radical changes, and firing teachers can’t fix education?

To which any educator will give you the “no duh” response. There is something more important than that, something so overwhelming that it makes anything else impotent. Parents.

There is no single factor more important than parents.

To which I propose we switch our conversation away from education reform and into parent reform. Now, this is not another finger pointing exercise, we have enough of that already. This is an attempt to engage in discourse that is productive. Like two children beating each other up, nobody wins. But if you can get them to talk first, to understand each other, then they grow and everybody wins.

If given the stage here’s an example of what I would say:

During the teenage years the child brain suddenly becomes the adult brain. Experiencing a large growth in ability. Beneath the raging hormones is a mind that will soon be able to perform geometry, calculus, write abstract essays, and more.

Very few understand this and even fewer understand how to respond to it.

Fortunately, our middle schools do and they focus almost entirely on skill building. They teach the rigor necessary to enable those powerful minds.

During grades six to eight, the content suddenly becomes repetitive. Topics that were covered in earlier years are rehashed, only to be covered again in high school. Which leaves teachers free to focus on:

  • Writing outlines
  • Organization
  • Punctuality
  • Forming paragraphs
  • Structured notes (math, science)

If successful the classroom turns into an escape from the chaos of puberty by establishing daily routines and regular practice. You would be surprised how relaxing it is for teenagers to have a well disciplined and quiet place to practice writing outlines. It’s like a hush comes over the class.

The same is true for parents. I had so many successful parent-teacher conferences where the sole discussion was on how to organize a backpack. At first the parents would look at me with shock. Where was the typical laundry list of problems or successes. Instead, I would explain about their child’s growing brain and the need to build basic skills. Then a few weeks later they would come back and thank me profusely.

It is these basic skills that form the foundation for future success in high school and college. If delivered at the right age it is almost magical. Providing students with exactly what they need, simplifying the parents challenging role, and allowing teachers to, well, teach.

Further, I can provide an example of this at every age, every grade, and every stage in life. I can offer to adults and parents critical knowledge that will save them countless hours and headaches, while making straight A’s a reasonable achievement.

Now, not everything I would say is perfect and backed by all educators. But, it does set the foundation for productive discussions. I would love national debates that introduce these largely unknown facts to parents. Instead of the pointless and unhelpful debates we have now.

I can only imagine how much improvement we would see if our education reform suddenly was about education and not money or blame.

What do you say, did I make a convincing argument for parent reform?

No! Every Child Cannot Get Straight A's

In a previous post I asked the question: Can Every Child Get Straight A’s?

Oh wow, did I get some interesting responses. Every single person, except one, said no. The only person to say yes was my lady’s father, thanks Ravendad.

The overwhelming outcry was that students should not get straight A’s. Or, that it was an unreasonable or an unimportant expectation. Innumerable explanations were given in the comments and on Facebook. Here are some of them:

  • “There has to be losers in life”
  • “If you lower the bar enough, yes”
  • “Some kids just aren’t great at school”

Those were real comments. Others did give more complex answers with references to various experts (or pundits). But, I think the point stands, we have very low expectations for our children.

It’s no surprise that our education is barely competing worldwide with so few adults expecting us to do well. Many of us would probably like to blame this on schools or teachers. The documentary, Waiting For Superman, provides amunition for just that by pointing out all the problems and inadequacies they have.

Which is exactly where I draw the line. I get so worked up when adults blame our problems on schools, I even walked out on that movie in protest.

We do not have an education problem. Our schools are doing fine, if not exceptional. In every aspect of education our teachers, principals, and schools are improving. They are establishing uniform standards, trying new teaching methods, and in some cases radical reforms.

The results have been pathetic. Tiny gains or no gains all across the board.

Which has befuddled the entire country. You mean that money, radical changes, and firing teachers can’t fix education?

To which any educator will give you the “no duh” response. There is something more important than that, something so overwhelming that it makes anything else impotent. Parents.

There is no single factor more important than parents.

To which I propose we switch our conversation away from education reform and into parent reform. Now, this is not another finger pointing exercise, we have enough of that already. This is an attempt to engage in discourse that is productive. Like two children beating each other up, nobody wins. But if you can get them to talk first, to understand each other, then they grow and everybody wins.

If given the stage here’s an example of what I would say:

During the teenage years the child brain suddenly becomes the adult brain. Experiencing a large growth in ability. Beneath the raging hormones is a mind that will soon be able to perform geometry, calculus, write abstract essays, and more.

Very few understand this and even fewer understand how to respond to it.

Fortunately, our middle schools do and they focus almost entirely on skill building. They teach the rigor necessary to enable those powerful minds.

During grades six to eight, the content suddenly becomes repetitive. Topics that were covered in earlier years are rehashed, only to be covered again in high school. Which leaves teachers free to focus on:

  • Writing outlines
  • Organization
  • Punctuality
  • Forming paragraphs
  • Structured notes (math, science)

If successful the classroom turns into an escape from the chaos of puberty by establishing daily routines and regular practice. You would be surprised how relaxing it is for teenagers to have a well disciplined and quiet place to practice writing outlines. It’s like a hush comes over the class.

The same is true for parents. I had so many successful parent-teacher conferences where the sole discussion was on how to organize a backpack. At first the parents would look at me with shock. Where was the typical laundry list of problems or successes. Instead, I would explain about their child’s growing brain and the need to build basic skills. Then a few weeks later they would come back and thank me profusely.

It is these basic skills that form the foundation for future success in high school and college. If delivered at the right age it is almost magical. Providing students with exactly what they need, simplifying the parents challenging role, and allowing teachers to, well, teach.

Further, I can provide an example of this at every age, every grade, and every stage in life. I can offer to adults and parents critical knowledge that will save them countless hours and headaches, while making straight A’s a reasonable achievement.

Now, not everything I would say is perfect and backed by all educators. But, it does set the foundation for productive discussions. I would love national debates that introduce these largely unknown facts to parents. Instead of the pointless and unhelpful debates we have now.

I can only imagine how much improvement we would see if our education reform suddenly was about education and not money or blame.

What do you say, did I make a convincing argument for parent reform?

Can Every Child Get Straight A’s?

Over the weekend you missed a stellar debate I had with Amy. It started from the piece, Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior, by Amy Chua in the Wall Street Journal. You have to read it and then come back and tell me how deeply it offended you.

The thing that got us going was a debate over straight A’s.

My point of view is that I will demand straight A’s, no matter what. I mean with the ultra-low requirements of our schools getting an ‘A’ simply means turning in homework. It is amazing how few can even do that. Just thinking about it makes me want to set the bar even higher, with honors classes and extra projects.

Simply put, I do not see any reason why students in America should not get A’s. I think that striving to do so is the only way to fix our schools because it requires resetting parental expectations – both to get parents more involved in homework and to get us as a group and a nation to expect nothing but the best.

I don’t know, maybe I’m being naive about this. Maybe I should consider those students who have trouble in math and let them off.

What do you think, am I a complete tyrant for thinking this? Will you hold your children to the same standard that I and “Chinese Mothers” do/will?

If not, please give a reason why.

Update: a response to this post was added: No! Every Child Cannot Get Straight A’s

 

Can Every Child Get Straight A's?

Over the weekend you missed a stellar debate I had with Amy. It started from the piece, Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior, by Amy Chua in the Wall Street Journal. You have to read it and then come back and tell me how deeply it offended you.

The thing that got us going was a debate over straight A’s.

My point of view is that I will demand straight A’s, no matter what. I mean with the ultra-low requirements of our schools getting an ‘A’ simply means turning in homework. It is amazing how few can even do that. Just thinking about it makes me want to set the bar even higher, with honors classes and extra projects.

Simply put, I do not see any reason why students in America should not get A’s. I think that striving to do so is the only way to fix our schools because it requires resetting parental expectations – both to get parents more involved in homework and to get us as a group and a nation to expect nothing but the best.

I don’t know, maybe I’m being naive about this. Maybe I should consider those students who have trouble in math and let them off.

What do you think, am I a complete tyrant for thinking this? Will you hold your children to the same standard that I and “Chinese Mothers” do/will?

If not, please give a reason why.

Update: a response to this post was added: No! Every Child Cannot Get Straight A’s

 

Save the Sea Otters!

I know you have a favorite animal. Mine is the Sea Otter!

These furry little creatures are smart and devilish. They have pouches like kangaroos where they store their toolset. After diving to the bottom for some tasty crustaceans they head back to the surface and lay on their backs to crack open their delights (using the tools!). They’re super smart which means they have loads of free time for high jinks.

baby sea otter

To see them you have to visit west coast since they only inhabit the northern Pacific Ocean. There discovery by the early explorers brought about an international market in Otter pelts. The story since then has been the same old one of decline. It does end with some good news including an internatioanl ban in hunting and a population recovery.

That makes me proud but also serves as a constant reminder. I live zero waste, reduce my water use, walk more, and eat at farmers markets because of these little guys. I love them so much they make me cry and the thought of them in pain makes me angry!

Did You Know:

- Sea otters have the world’s densest fur—up to a million hairs per square inch! (You have 100,000 hairs or less on your whole head.)

- Sea otters live in loose-knit groups called rafts. Otters in rafts often sleep side-by-side, wrapped in strands of kelp so that they don’t drift far from each other.

Check Out These Links:

Baby Otters at the Monterey AquariumAnother Baby Otter!Saving Sea Otters

Holding Hands!

Podcasts Are Saving My Life

I’m such a huge fan of podcasts that it’s insane. See I have this eye problem that prevents me from reading too much. My day job is in technology and my hobby is writing so I have no ‘good eyes’ left for everything else.

That’s where podcasts come in. I can listen to them while walking, cleaning, and building (my three other hobbies). It’s such a perfect blend that I want to share with you my favorites:

  • This Week in Tech
  • Slate Political Gabfest
  • Bloomberg Presents Lewis Lapham
  • History of Rome
  • Melvyn Bragg – In Our Time
  • The Economist (all of the shows)
  • APM: Marketplace Morning Report

The interesting thing about these shows are that none of them are from traditional TV/Radio. Half of them are writers of print media talking about their work. An interesting trend I expect to scare the beejeesus out of Hollywood.

Here are my second tier shows that I still listen to vehemently:

  • Slate Cultural Gabfest
  • Slate Hang Up And Listen
  • Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History
  • Tech News Today
  • Buzz Out Loud
  • TED Talks
  • NBC Meet The Press
  • APM: Marketplace
  • APM: The Splendid Table

Sorry for the lack of links but you can Google (or iTunes search) these titles and I guarantee you will find them.

Do you listen to any of these?