Category Archives: Business

How Intel Killed AMD

From a commenter on Reddit:

“AMD had the Athlon 64 put ahead of everything Intel had available and they were making tons of money off its sales. But then, suddenly, sales went dry and benchmarks began to run better on Intel despite real world deltas being much smaller than synthetics reflected.

“Can you guess why? Because Intel paid PC manufacturers out of its own pocket for years to not buy AMD’s chips.

“Although they were faster, manufacturers went with the bribe because the amount they made from that outweighed the amount they get from happy customers buying their powerful computers. And thus, the industry began to stagnate a bit with CPUs not really moving forward as quickly. T

“They also attacked all existing AMD chips by sabotaging their compiler, making it intentionally run slower on all existing and future AMD chips. Not just temporarily, but permanently; all versions of software created with that version of the compiler will forever run worse on AMD chips, even in 2020 (and yes, some benchmark tools infected with it are still used today!).”

Further reading at

Image from

How can the derivatives market be worth more than the world’s total financial assets?

From Slate:

Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin issued a call on Tuesday for regulation of the “over the counter” derivatives market, which has an estimated size of about $596 trillion. By contrast, the value of the world’s financial assetsincluding all stock, bonds, and bank depositswas pegged at $167 trillion last year by McKinsey. How can the derivatives market be larger than the entire world’s financial wealth? [link]

Shining Shithole on the Hill

The good thing about being an INFJ is you see patterns in everything all the time but stay quiet and introverted enough that you pack down your suspicions labeled as paranoia. I don’t blog much lately because everything I’m feeling is so hopeless. I guess that is a bit extreme. Things locally are wonderful. Ron and I are great. My parents and sister and brother-in-law are all fine. But there’s a curdling unease.

Sometimes I can’t believe how fucking stupid Sarah Palin is. My next line should be, ‘I mean, really,’ but there isn’t any way to say more than that. She’s the worst example of the Ugly American. She an empty husk of consumerist hope wrapped in her own ignorance, proud of being uncurious and always at the ready to mumble ‘jingo all the way!’ She may have lipstick but she is no pit bull. She has the tenacity of a manatee and the intellect of tree stump. One blogger described her as a Pretty Hate Machine. Through the vice presidential debate, Ron and I sat there in a 90-minute cringe while a cowed Gwen Ifill rolled over and couldn’t muster the gumption for hard reporting like stalwart journalist Katie Couric.  She is an insult to smart women everywhere with her ‘I WEAR GLASSES TO SHOW I SMART’ styling and gosh-darn-gee-willickers cadence.

She is the conservative vision of women reduced to an icon: an obedient vagina with a gun.

It isn’t sexist to call a stupid women a fucking idiot.

I dreamt of Biden simply saying: ‘I’ll give my time for rebuttal to the governor so she can give you a direct answer.’ I dreamt that when McCain said he might not make that first debate that Obama would say ‘That’s okay. Nader and McKinney can come.’

I have been rather surprised at how poorly the GOP’s campaign has been executed. John McCain must really be out of his mind and not listening to his advisors. There’s no unity, no narrative, no metaphor aside from HE’S BROWN AND HE GON KILL YOU.

And McCain has turned himself into an embarrassment. His constant flogging of his own flogging has grown tired. I don’t disagree he sacrificed for his country but that doesn’t mean we owe him the White House. And for him to call Obama an elitist when he married into wealth with a blonde trophy wife while his first wife laid in the hospital disfigured. And the multiple houses. And the multiple cars. And the jet. But see, he means elitist as in That Colored Boy Think He Smarter Than You. And if there’s one thing Americans hate it is a nerd. Especially a nerd that isn’t white since he points out the possibility that if you work really hard and are smart you can succeed instead of falling into wealth by marrying it or betting your life in an economy reduced to porn, bullets and casinos.

Obama won’t change anything. He is a civil rights scholar and an expert on the Constitution but rolled over with FISA and telecom immunity. He hasn’t said dick about stopping our torture programs and other gross human rights violations. He will continue the imperial project that is driving the country into financial ruin. As more former prisoners come forward and detail the systematic abuse at the hands of Americans we learn how morally bankrupt we are, and now we’re learning how financially bankrupt we are as well. Yes I love Obama and Michelle as symbols but if there’s no there there than the symbol is just an empty totem. Maybe I should give Obama the benefit of the doubt. I dream on day one he’ll dissolve all those executive orders that set up the levers for a dictatorship and martial law – I think he could have run on a ‘restoration’ type message.

There’s no fucking money. Why won’t McCain or Obama say that? There is no money. We are beyond running on fumes. At least fumes can be inhaled for a high. We don’t even have wooden nickels dipped in shit. We don’t even have shit.

That 2 and a half page that McCain didn’t read had been cooked up months before by the White House. That congressional showdown was so suspicious to me. Any time they want to ram through legislation that fast I remember the Patriot Act and the Authorization for Use of Military Force. You can sense the hubris. They didn’t even bother making it a really long bill that nobody would read. It was just under three pages and enough of that language to include that no decisions could be undone or reconsidered. Why didn’t someone simply ask: What is the value of having no oversight?

Then came the second version of the bill that fellated any pissed off congresman with earmark/bribes so they’d say yes to anything. And then the $700 billion became $818. Like that is some sort of solution. ‘Oh it didn’t past the first time, we must need to add more bullshit to it.’ And they just came up with the number anyway. And then AIG’s big party.

Listening to a This American Life episode from NPR the question I’d kept asking myself was answered. They were talking about Credit Default Swaps – the blurry financial instrument that had undermined AIG and caused the collapse of the commercial paper market. I’d kept wondering about oversight and guessed that there was probably no regulation – and I was right. But worse than that, there was no disclosure. All the free market monkeys are always talking about how markets self-regulate if there is trust and public information (i.e. no insider info). Congress had a chance to say they wanted transparency but the greedy-grabbers decided they wanted to go without and so that is why I think there should have been a big ‘Um no, fuck YOU’ to those parties that engaged in risky business knowing full well all of the ramifications of their behavior and rewards and losses. We get to learn the lessons of the 1920s and 1930s all over again. Which means a world war should be coming any day now.

In the book American Theocracy, Kevin Phillips writes:

It’s finally happened: moving money around has surpassed making things as a share of the U.S. gross domestic product.

He then goes on to detail the decline of manufacturing and the rise of the finance, insurance and real estate industries. When I first read that I kinda shuddered. I may be a traditionalist but I don’t believe an entire country can survive on service jobs and ‘knowledge work’. We have to make something. Besides weapons. But that is what has happened. Has there ever been a case where globalization didn’t result in a race to the bottom? Phillips also details in the book the current crisis in national, global and household debt.

So the reason the car companies are failing isn’t because they make such shitty cars – they do – but that the cost of pensions is skyrocketing. I’m waiting for the generational war to begin between the boomers and everybody else.

Okay who ever has their goddamn Blackberry IM going off can please please please silence it.

I feel like I can’t find enough creative ways to say ‘we’re fucked.’

Here in Silicon Valley the VC firms are locking up and money is going to slow to a trickle. Hopefully my company is well capitalized and has reserves to weather the crazyness. I hear conflicting views on ad spending during recessions.

On the lighter side my time in the gym seems to be paying off. I’m not getting lean like I wanted to but Ron and I can barely fit side-by-side on the Muni. A co-worker noticed I’ve been getting broader. A stroll through the Castro Street Fair brought welcome glances at my chest or smiles. Ron always like this. He likes to know I’m coveted.

Okay the muffins are wearing off.

Bank of England Bailout Kept Secret Forever

£50 billion later:

Requests under the Freedom of Information Act are to be denied. Details will be kept secret even after 30 years – the period after which all but the most sensitive state documents are released.

Any Bank of England employee leaking the names of institutions involved will face court action for breach of contract.  Even a figure for the overall amount advanced will not be published until October. Meanwhile the Bank is expected to issue at least £50bn of Treasury bills to banks in exchange for their mortgages – entirely in secret. This hypersensitive official stance is thought to be a response to the events of last year when a huge stigma was attached to any lender suspected of going to the Bank for cash help.

Americans Don’t Think It’ll Get Better

via Krugman in the New York Times:

The Survey Research Center of the University of Michigan has been tracking American economic perceptions since the 1950s. On Friday the center released its latest estimate of the consumer sentiment index — and it was a stunner. Americans are more pessimistic about their situation than they have been for more than a quarter century. Meanwhile, a recent Pew report found that the percentage of Americans saying that they’re better off than they were five years ago is at its lowest level in 44 years of polling.

Numerous Countries Drop Dollar as Reserve Currency

From Reddit:

In the past couple of years, the following countries have stopped using the dollar as their reserve currency or have dropped their currency’s peg against the dollar: China, Japan, Kuwait, Syria, Iran, Libya, Russia, Malaysia, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Switzerland, Norway and some other Scandinavian countries, Some Balkan countries, Many East European currencies.

Porn and Casinos, Bullets and Prisons

I was talking with a trusted colleague last night on Skype and we were batting back and forth what we thought would be the effect of the recession on the online business scene. I’m kind of a pessimist. Each time the credit crisis spreads to a new sector of the financial ecosystem the Fed dumps in money hoping to stanch the bleeding. Nobody in the US seems particularly alarmed that the UK had to nationalize one of its banks… the government took control of a bank. (isn’t nationalize just another word – gasp! – socialize?) The dollar continues to collapse and oil prices continue to rise. I know you think I’m just being a big commie for being concerned about this. I feel like I know enough to be scared shitless but not enough to feel at ease. And I know there will be a bailout. Industries get bailed out, individuals don’t. Those that made stupid mortgage choices will not be required to pay the piper – and the loan officers that convinced uneducated customers into loans they could never afford will never be punished. People seem so desperate to find some example of constant and ever-expanding growth. I’m all for abundance and attraction but come on. I don’t think it will ever get as bad as it did in Argentina where the entire banking system collapsed. But do you really trust the nation’s leading financiers to do the right thing for all of us or just for themselves?

This coupled with my complete and utter disgust at our Presidential election wear on me every single day. As we become willing torturers and nourish ourselves on the hateful fearmongering and war-profiteering of the smallest minds who knows how that will affect business.

I’ve said before that the entire reduction of online business cooks down to porn and casinos. I think that the entire reduction of offline industry boils down to bullets and prisons. I don’t think it matters who gets elected. No one is willing to dis-assemble the surveillance state that is being built up systematically and shifting it’s eyes from foreign nationals to citizens. The boundaires of constitutional rights continue to blur and no one seems particularly alarmed that habeas corpus no longer exists. You probably just rolled your eyes and called me a name. Or you have the defense that if you are’t doing anything wrong then you have nothing to worry aobut – well if I’m not doing anything wrong then why do you need to watch me or track my online usage or my Tivo recording dhabits or credit card purchases or geographic incidence of purchase patterns.

So the recession that most economists agree that we are in will do two things to online business: bring in more desperate people hoping to strike it rich.

Guys Wins $5.15M Jackpot; Manager Unplugs Slot Machine

Speaking of dry heaves:

Shortly after putting a $20 bill into one of the machines, Paulson said he hit the jackpot. “Next thing I know there’s bells and whistles going off, the place is going crazy,” he said. The machine indicated he’d won $5.15 million; but as the quarters began to pour from the machine, Paulson said a manager came over and shut off the machine.

Bank of America Asks Government for $739 Billion

Context and commentary from Mischa:

“The proposal warns that up to $739 billion in mortgages are at “moderate to high risk” of defaulting over the next five years and that millions of families could lose their homes. To prevent that, Bank of America suggested creating a Federal Homeowner Preservation Corporation that would buy up billions of dollars in troubled mortgages at a deep discount, forgive debt above the current market value of the homes and use federal loan guarantees to refinance the borrowers at lower rates”

The reason they are at “high risk” is twofold. Prices are too high and Congress and this administration is spending too much money weakening the dollar. Home prices need to come down, the war in Iraq needs to be stopped cold turkey, and Congress needs to stop bailing out banks and homeowners when they do something stupid. While we are at it, we need to abolish the Fed.

Deficit Under-Reported: It’s $54 Trillion

Trouble with a Capital T:

The real accrual number, a figure that is almost never reported, can be determined only by analyzing yet another document, one put out by the U.S. Treasury Department. That analysis reveals a startling truth: Not only is the real federal deficit consistently under-reported, it is uncomfortably high, even with the ballooning revenues and improved cash flows in recent years…. Sadly, irresponsible federal government spending and commitments have nearly wiped out all of Americans’ equity. The federal government’s net debt and commitments of $54 trillion is nearly equal to the $58 trillion of equity held by American households.