Monthly Archives: May 2005

Dischub

The Disc Hub is a great way to store your CDs and DVDs. and it is the newest Silicon Valley 100 product.

Do you still have CDs? OK … I know most of you might think CDs are almost as useful as 8-tracks, but we all still have a lot of them lying around and I even use them (very occasionally) for music listening…

I love these DiscHubs … they’re my favorite way of storing and displaying CDs (and perfect for those of you who subscribe to services like GameFly or NetFlix so those packages don’t end up on your floor). And they look so cool.

MacWorld’s review of DiscHub was super:

Not only was the discHub a good idea, but that the company got the implementation right: The neoprene membranes lining each slot did a good job of holding the discs securely without scratching them, while the staggered slots themselves made it easy to see and grab any disc. One of those things I never knew I needed until I used it. 4 out of 5 mice.

And DiscHub is locally based (in San Francisco) with a great eye for design.

Book: Conspiracy of Fools

Summation: read this book. yes, read this book (or listen to the audiobook).

Conspiracy of Fools: A True Story by Kurt Eichenwald is a book on Enron. The book outlines in riveting detail all the schemes and general idiocy of the Enron employees — most notably, Andy Fastow.

Eichenwald is a New York Times reporter who goes in-depth to try to explain both the money laundering and also the personalities behind the crimes. This is a good example of an out-of-control company were all the compensation was tied to items not in the long-term interest of the company. Enron, more than almost any other company, was a true slave to the bubble stock market of the 1990s and began going downhill when it changed its revenue reporting standards to a mark-to-market system.

this is a very important book to get a glimpse behind the motivations of the stock perpetrators.

Audio Books story in New York Times

Today’s NYT has a great story about audio books — Loud, Proud, Unabridged: It Is Too Reading!.

For a growing group of devoted listeners, the popularity of audio books is redefining the notion of reading, which for centuries has been centered on the written word.

As any reader of this blog knows, i am a big fan of audio books. in 2004 i read 18 books but listened to 12 books. this year i expect those numbers to be reversed.

thanks Ben Casnocha for forwarding.

Power verses Integrity

Power is like cottage cheese — it has an expiration date. Integrity is like a Twinkie — if you maintain your consistency it can last forever. Do you want to be a Twinkie or cottage cheese?

taxation and the future of our society

At a discussion the other day about Fareed Zakaria’s book … the Future of Freedom … and it dawned on me the question I should be asking … thinking about … is … how stable is our own government? What could be the cause of the fall of democracy in the Western world?

And then I thought … taxation! … let me explain …

taxation is the cause of some of the most important revolutions in history. Nothing riles people more then unjust, unfair taxation. Especially when oppressing a strong minority …

The Protestant Reformation came about from the excesses of the Pontiff at the time. But the chief cause of discontent was taxes … people (especially people in Germany) were not getting much bang for their buck. They were sending cash to Rome only to see it squandered on opulent parties or ill-conceived wars. The people of Germany were primed to dislike Rome and when the revolutionary Martin Luther pinned his 95 points on the church door, the people were quickly behind him …

And of course, the American Revolution was the classic revolution over taxation. stamp act … tea act … do you think those people living in the 13 colonies at the time would have really revolted if they weren’t getting such a short stick on revenues? I think they would have been very content to remain under the umbrella of mother England.

Taxes devastated the German Weimar Republic. The taxes imposed on Germany by France, Britain, and US directly led to the rise of Hitler. There could not have been a worse consequence from the Treaty of Versailles

Taxes lead to revolutions. Some of these revolutions are good, others bad. All are highly disruptive.

Our own democracy might be in peril because of taxation. The burden on the young from social security and Medicare in the US — and similar social programs in Japan and Europe — is going to put a lot of pressure on democracy. This is going to be especially true in Japan where the young/old imbalance is particularly acute.

majority rule would rule in favor of the old … but might and force can rule for the young in a bitter reaction. As I think about the question “what might imperil our own democracy in the next 50 years” I think long and hard about taxation as our societies are sure to have a fairly redistributionist tax that puts a lot of burdens on peoples in their 20s, 30s, and 40s (the people who are the most effective at fighting wars and waging violence). And when we think of reforms of programs like social security, Medicare, and other “entitlements”, we must remember that reformation of these programs might be a necessity to save our society.