Saturday, 22 November 2008

Complete results of 2008 US presidential election

pic from Wikipedia - popular vote by county

pic from Wikipedia - red denotes states/districts won by McCain/Palin, blue by Obama/Biden. Numbers indicate the number of electoral votes allotted to each state

Election results
  1. Barack Obama 67,981,686 votes--------52.77%--------365 electoral votes
  2. John McCain 59,082,002 votes--------45.86%--------173 electoral votes
  3. Ralph Nader 720,227 votes-------------0.56%----------------------------
Barack Obama/Joe Biden (democratic party) won in 28 states + DC + NE2
(California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, DC, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachussets, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska2, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin)

John McCain/Sarah Heath Palin (republican party) won in 22 states
(Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississipi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska1, Nebraska3, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming)

Barack Obama is going to be the first president (since John Fitzgerald Kennedy) who has been neither a governor nor a vice president. If John McCain had won, it would have been the same (but McCain spent 4 years as a member of House of Representatives and 22 years as a member of Senate)

The night of 4th November 2008, Obama gave his acceptance speech:

McCain gave his concession speech (click here)

It's impossible not to talk about another famous speech:
28th August 1963 - Martin Luther King's speech (I have a dream) in Washington during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

MLK: "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

If MLK had been alive today, what would he has said? Is his dream real today??

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Best DJs of 2008!!

record needle on technics 1210 (pic from Flickr)

I talked about it one year ago and I can't miss it this year!
DJ magazine wrote the TOP 100 DJ of 2008, the first two positions haven't changed:

1 Armin Van Buuren - (Netherlands)

2 Tiësto - (Netherlands)

3 Paul Van Dyk - (Germany)

4 Above & Beyond - (England)

5 David Guetta - (France)

6 Ferry Corsten - (Netherlands)

7 Sasha - (Wales)

8 Markus Schulz - (Germany)

9 John Digweed - (England)

10 Infected Mushroom - (Israel)

11 Deadmau5 - (Canada)

12 Carl Cox - (England)

13 Sander van Doorn - (Netherlands)

14 Paul Oakenfold - (England)

15 Richie Hawtin - (England)

16 Hernan Cattaneo - (Argentina)

17 James Zabiela - (England)

18 Andy Moor - (England)

19 Eddie Halliwell - (England)

20 Axwell - (Sweden)
To know the whole TOP 100, click here

Friday, 14 November 2008

Investment banks and financial crisis 2007-2008

Leverage ratios of investment banks (from Wikipedia)

US Gross Federal Debt, unadjusted for inflation (from Wikipedia)

If we want to try to understand the global financial crisis going on now, we need to try to understand the role of investment banks in USA.
There is an interesting paper about investment banks, the paper was written and it's called
The Demise of Investment-Banking Partnerships: Theory and Evidence
written in 2004 by Alan D. Morrison (University of Oxford-Said Business School; University of Oxford-Merton College) and William J. Wilhelm Jr (University of Oxford-Said Business School; University of Virginia-School of Law)

Until 1970, the New York Stock Exchange prohibited public incorporation of member firms. After the rules were relaxed to allow joint stock firm membership, investment-banking concerns organized as partnerships or closely-held private corporations went public in waves, with Goldman Sachs (1999) the last of the bulge bracket banks to float. In this paper, we ask why the Investment Banks chose to float after 1970, and why they did so in waves. In our model, partnerships have a role in fostering the formation of human capital. We examine in this context the effect of technological innovations which serve to replace or to undermine the role of the human capitalist and hence we provide a technological theory of the partnership's going-public decision. We support our theory with a new dataset of investment bank partnership statistics.

This is a very important issue: before 1970, the New York Stock Exchange (the famous Wall Street) prohibited investment banks from going public (in USA "going public" means starting an IPO in order to enter the stock exchange).

We can read from the official site of NYSE:

Public Can Own Member Firms
March 26 1970
Public ownership of member firms is approved for the first time

And, maybe, it was the beginning of the end...

James Surowiecki wrote (29 September 2008; The New Yorker):

[...] All, then, seemed good. But, for Wall Street firms, going public was a deal with the devil, because it meant exposing themselves to what was, in effect, a minute-by-minute referendum, in the form of the stock price, on the health of their operations. This was fine as long as things were going well—the higher the stock price, the richer everyone got—but, once things started to go bad, that market referendum started to look like a vote of no confidence. And that made the problems that the companies were already facing much, much worse. [...]


[...] All companies, of course, worry about how their stock is doing. But for most the stock price is a product of performance, rather than a cause of it. If Procter & Gamble’s stock plummeted tomorrow, people would still keep buying Tide. By contrast, if an investment bank’s share price tumbles, it not only wrecks people’s confidence but also can lead to credit-rating downgrades, which provoke a further decline in the stock price, and so on. The downward spiral can be stunningly fast and near-impossible to escape. [...]

After 1970, investment banks could enter the stock exchange, and theese are the dates when they decided to do so (NYSE):

1971 Merrill Lynch
1985 Bear Stearns
1986 Morgan Stanley
1994 Lehman Brothers
1999 Goldman Sachs

What happened to the 5 investment banks that we can see from the first image?

Merrill Lynch: acquired by Bank of America
Bear Stearns: acquired by JPMorgan Chase (with the help of the Fed)
Morgan Stanley: changed its status from investment bank to bank holding
Lehman Brothers: bankruptcy
Goldman Sachs: changed its status from investment bank to bank holding

On 23rd September 2008 we heard:

The FBI is investigating Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc and insurer American International Group Inc and their senior executives for potential mortgage fraud, CNN reported on Tuesday.

Well, who is going to investigate the role of the Sec about the subprime crisis??

Monday, 3 November 2008

35 innovators

Last year I already talked about this (35 beautiful minds) and I'm glad to write about it again.

Since 1999, the editors of Technology Review (magazine of Massachussets Institute of Technology) have honored the young innovators whose inventions and research they find most exciting; today that collection is the TR35, a list of technologists and scientists, all under the age of 35. Their work--spanning medicine, computing, communications, electronics, nanotechnology, and more--is changing our world.

Theese are the winners of 2008.

2008 Innovator of the Year: JB Straubel
2008 Humanitarian of the Year: Aimèe Rose

Blaise Aguera y Arcas (33 years old - Microsoft Live Labs)
Building immersive 3-D environments

Theodore Betley (31 - Harvard University)
Re-creating photosynthesis

Martin Burke (32 - University of Illinois)
Molecular diversity

Dries Buytaert (29 - Drupal)
Simple, flexible Web publishing

Cristopher Chang (33 - University of California, Berkeley)
Probing chemical reactions in the body

Michelle Chang (31 - University of California, Berkeley)
Designing microbes to make fuels and drugs

Jenova Chen (26 - Thatgamecompany)
Gaming with the flow

Tanzeem Choudhury (33 - Dartmouth College)
Inferring social networks automatically

Peter L. Corsell (30 - GridPoint)
Making the electric grid smart

Jack Dorsey (31 - Twitter)
Personal updates made simple

Stefanus Du Toit (25 - RapidMind)
Programming for parallel processors

Nicholas Fang (33 - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
Superlenses for watching cells

Ric Fulop (33 - A123 Systems)
Energizing rechargeable batteries

Julia Greer (32 - California Institute of Technology)
Revealing how materials behave at the nanoscale

Hossam Haick (33 - Technion-Israel Institute of Technology)
Sniffing out cancer

Seth Hallem (28 - Coverity)
Deconstructing software to find bugs

Donhee Ham (34 - Harvard University)
Portable nuclear magnetic resonance

Konrad Hochedlinger (32 - Harvard Medical School)
Turning adult cells into stem cells

Xian-Sheng Hua (34 - Microsoft Research Asia)
Enhancing video search

Sundar Iyer (31 - Cisco Systems)
Making memory at Internet speed

Jeffrey Karp (32 - Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology)
Gecko-inspired surgical tape

Farinaz Koushanfar (32 - Rice University)
Locking microchips to prevent piracy

Johnny Lee (28 - Microsoft)
Streamlining human-computer interactions

Meredith Ringel Morris (29 - Microsoft Research)
Searching websites jointly

Andrew Ng (32 - Stanford University)
Building household robots

Kostya Novoselov (34 - University of Manchester)
Two-dimensional transistors

Milica Radisic (32 - University of Toronto)
Patching damaged hearts

Aimèe Rose (34 - ICx Technologies)
Ultrasensitive detectors to sniff out explosives

Bilal Shafi (34 - University of Pennsylvania)
Preventing congestive heart failure

Adam Smith (23 - Xobni)
Making sense of e-mail madness

JB Straubel (32 - Tesla Motors)
Engineering electric sports cars

Joo Chuan Tong (31 - The Singapore Agency for Science, Technology, and Research's Institute for Infocomm Research)
My vision: Personalized vaccines

Eric Wilhelm (31 - Instructables)
Putting DIY projects online

Robert Wood (31 - Harvard University)
Building robotic flies

Ronggui Yang (34 - University of Colorado, Boulder)
Efficient electricity from waste heat
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