“Got kitesurfing on the mind, mixed with some search & classification tech, and a dab of political ranting”

Archive for September, 2005

Icer Air 2005 – in PacHeights

Posted by direwolff on September 30, 2005

While some of us were slaving away at our daily grind, there were lots of folks enjoying the first of what will hopefully be several Icer Air 2005.  They built a ski jump on Fillmore and Vallejo and let some skiiers and snowboarders go to town on it.  It's worth checking out the Chronicle's coverage on it as the pictures are awesome with the Bay in the background behind the acrobatics.

Olympic skier Jonny Moseley was also in the mix.

As can only be expected, not everything about the event was smooth, but it's cool that they just went for it.  I'm sure there are several members of the Snowboarding FREAKS and SFSnowboarding tribes who wish they had been there for the action.  I'm one of them.

Above, JJ Thomas is pictured, who took first place and the $7,000 purse and a new Jeep…sweet! (Chronicle photo by Mike Kepka)


Posted in Just Fun | Leave a Comment »

No more delays for DeLay ;-)

Posted by direwolff on September 28, 2005

Sorry, couldn’t resist the play on words here. Looks like they finally got’em!…or is this just another left-wing conspiracy to muddy his good name?…at least that’s his and his party’s story and they’re stickin’ with it.

ABC News coverage here.

One down, three to go…up the food chain that is.

Would you really trust this man?

Posted in Public Policy | Leave a Comment »

Supreme Court, tabloids, you find the difference

Posted by direwolff on September 28, 2005


We as a society are definitely going to hell when this sort of case creep makes it on to the Supreme Court calendar.  Something tells me that it wouldn't take much to find a case of greater social importance for them to be considering in their next calendar than Anna Nicole Smith's inheritance feud.  It just feels like either the justices are watching too much day time television, want some more attention, or just don't care about justice in this country. 

Anyway, I guess I'm being a pissed off dude today because it just feels like yet another travesty of justice and we've had quite a few these past 6 years on a national and international level with surely more to come after the next justice gets named (as I'm sure we're in for quite a treat with whoever gets named after Roberts).

Read more about Anna's case here.

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And now for some good news…

Posted by direwolff on September 25, 2005


It's good to see the wealthier nations coming to terms with our global reality…

IMF debt forgiveness agreement nears passage

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A landmark agreement to forgive billions of dollars of debt for poor countries sailed toward final approval by finance ministers after the International Monetary Fund agreed how to pay for it.

"Agreement has been reached on all the elements," said Gordon Brown, the British finance minister who is chairman of the IMF policy-setting panel "That means this historic process of completing the debt write-off that started many years ago has ended today."

He said late Saturday the IMF's 24-member executive board would meet soon to formally approve the deal.

Read on

Posted in Public Policy | Leave a Comment »

Terrible events, wars and hurricanes, yet gasoline companies still thrive…what am I missing?

Posted by direwolff on September 25, 2005

Let me start by saying, that something seems wrong to me about all of this though I can't properly articulate it yet.  With that said, I'm ramble on briefly.So I haven't yet done very much digging, but I recall something about our country's oil & gas industry being subsidized some how.  And in looking at their year-to-date stock performance, I marvel at how well all of those companies have grown in value.  This of course, in the throes of two wars that have impacted oil supplies and more recently two hurricanes which have added to the negative impact.  So one has to ask the question, how could the oil & gas companies' stocks continue to do well.  Don't let the above chart's red numbers throw you off, that's just a one day blip, it's the 3 month and year-to-date numbers that you want to be checking out.

I'm no genius in these matters, but it seems that every policy that was in place to reduce our country's dependence on oil & gas was over turned by the current administration and congress, and all before all of these events took place.  So, does this mean that our $3.00+ per gallon gas prices and the gov't subsidies effectively mean that "we the people" are once again footing the bill?  Bearing the pain, coming and going?  What's the point of having a government for and by the people if this is what we get out of them?  Let's just make it a dictatorship so we don't have to be party to the abuses, then at least we can really just sit back and blame a government we don't take part in…kinda like the one we have now minus the pretenses.  SOS!!!

Posted in Feelings, Public Policy | Leave a Comment »

eBay buys Skype for $2.6B+…yikes!!!

Posted by direwolff on September 13, 2005


Something about that deal that I love.  eBay has continuously shown itself to be above the hubris of a big company.  They started out with the acquisition of Billpoint which was unfortunately ill-fated from the get-go, but this didn't stop them from keeping their pride in check and taking another bite at the apple with their follow-on acquisition of Paypal.  By all appearances, Paypal has continued to run as it always did, except that now some of its processes seemed tightened up.  Nothing gives me the eerie feeling of an eBay suspicious hand manipulating things behind the scenes, as I sometimes get with some of the other modern Internet behemoths after similar moves.

eBay then invested a token $25M into Craigslist in an arm's length transaction.  This had all of the potential for getting ugly, but so far the relationship and their respective competition has remained quite civil with no evidence that eBay is seeking to crush Craig.  There's something you have to like about that, again given how frequently cultures will clash and relationships turn ugly.

This new Skype acquisition however has the flavor of a Paypal deal all over it.  It's technology that eBay can certainly use in its marketplace that adds value to its members and their interactions.  However, like Paypal, its a service that extends significantly beyond the bounds of eBay's immediate business and broadens their agenda.  The use of both Paypal and Skype go far beyond their application on eBay and that's why I love this deal.  While $2.6B seems like a lot of money, at 54M global users that's a mere $48.80 per user to get an immediate global footprint (not that eBay didn't have one already).  Skype already has 2M people paying them an average of $4/mo. on either Net-to-landline or voicemail services.  Basically, at $4/mo. they can get payback on their acquisition in one year fm each member. 

So the question becomes how many people will start paying for Skype services.  Well, I don't believe it matters because eBay and Skype are in it for the long haul and the price was not prohibitive.  Even with the additional incentive payment of $1.5B based on performance, that just makes the deal even more worthwhile for eBay since it's obviously tied to user growth and financial metrics.  This was a smart deal, and while some might scoff at the price tag, I'm actually surprised one of the usual players (ie. Google/MSFT/Yahoo!) didn't act on it first.

Congrats to the Skype founders on a 3 year job well done…yikes!!!

Posted in Entrepreneurship, Online Community, Technology | Leave a Comment »

Gas prices at over $3.00/gallon?! What’s up with that?!

Posted by direwolff on September 6, 2005

Well to say that there's a gauging game going on would have to be an understatement. This weekend alone I saw a gas prices range from between $2.99 all the way up to $3.39 and that was within two blocks on a Monday (3 days after the insanity began). Moreover, the station with the lower number was a traditionally more expensive station, which is what gave away to schtick that's being played out in the name of recent hurricane Katrina.

Profiteering during tragedies is nothing new, but there's something that feels really wrong about this. Of course it didn't help that our President repealed all sorts of legislation requiring more fuel efficient vehicles by now in his last term. As well, reading news about how the gasoline companies are hitting record earnings isn't making any of this more comforting. They're doing so in opportunistic ways at the mercy of a gas dependent nation with leadership that refuses to find alternatives due to its special interests (and special friends).

Well, bitchin' and whining here isn't going to change anything, but this is all giving me lots to think about and I hope it starts stirring the minds of the more entrepreneurial of you out there. This might be just the time to find a completely new type of vehicle that people might just be willing to take a chance on given the perfect storm that's forming for such an alternative.

Posted in Just Fun, Public Policy | Leave a Comment »