Friday, March 20, 2009

People Lie to Be a Michigan Alum

Apparently being a Michigan alum is worth more than I thought. Today the CEO of Concur admitted that he never graduated from Michigan (though he did attend for four years). This despite the fact that he said he did for some time. Apparently the market doesn't want to own stock of CEOs that blatantly (and inexplicably) lie. Concur's stock fell a lot (~20%) today. Why do I think a lawsuit is coming?

from Barron's:

Concur Technologies (CNQR) shares fell sharply Friday on reports - now confirmed by the company - that chairman and CEO S. Steven Singh does not actually have a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of Michigan, as Concur had asserted in many previous financial filings.

According to Bloomberg,a spokeswoman for the company confirms that Singh did not actually earn an engineering degree from the school. The claims was made in Concur filings from 1998 until January 2007; the company said Singh himself asked the company to remove the reference in future filings. “I deeply regret the mistake,” Singh said in a statement to Bloomberg via an e-mail sent by the spokeswoman.

The wire services reports that Singh was enrolled at Michigan from 1979 until 1983, but did not receive a degree. concur, which makes corporate expense management software, indicated that it would take no disciplinary action in the matter.

Bloomberg notes that the discovery was brought to light by the Fraud Discovery Institute, a San Diego firm co-founded by Barry Minkow, who served more than seven years in prison for fraud committed as CEO of the carpet-cleaning company ZZZZ Best. Bloomberg notes that Minkow, who has recently made something of a habit of uncovering public company execs who have provided inaccurate information about their educational background, says he’s bought put options on Concur.

CNQR today fell $4.47, or 19.75, to $18.20.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Stimulus Package

I know I haven't posted in a while and this isn't a fun post. I just wanted to put this down so I can reference it in the future. I still hope that Obama does a good job, but seeing a bill like this getting fast-tracked through Congress helps to remind me of why I voted for McCain.

source: WSJ editorial
A 40-Year Wish List
You won't believe what's in that stimulus bill.

"Never let a serious crisis go to waste. What I mean by that is it's an opportunity to do things you couldn't do before."

So said White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in November, and Democrats in Congress are certainly taking his advice to heart. The 647-page, $825 billion House legislation is being sold as an economic "stimulus," but now that Democrats have finally released the details we understand Rahm's point much better. This is a political wonder that manages to spend money on just about every pent-up Democratic proposal of the last 40 years.
[Review & Outlook] AP

We've looked it over, and even we can't quite believe it. There's $1 billion for Amtrak, the federal railroad that hasn't turned a profit in 40 years; $2 billion for child-care subsidies; $50 million for that great engine of job creation, the National Endowment for the Arts; $400 million for global-warming research and another $2.4 billion for carbon-capture demonstration projects. There's even $650 million on top of the billions already doled out to pay for digital TV conversion coupons.

In selling the plan, President Obama has said this bill will make "dramatic investments to revive our flagging economy." Well, you be the judge. Some $30 billion, or less than 5% of the spending in the bill, is for fixing bridges or other highway projects. There's another $40 billion for broadband and electric grid development, airports and clean water projects that are arguably worthwhile priorities.

Add the roughly $20 billion for business tax cuts, and by our estimate only $90 billion out of $825 billion, or about 12 cents of every $1, is for something that can plausibly be considered a growth stimulus. And even many of these projects aren't likely to help the economy immediately. As Peter Orszag, the President's new budget director, told Congress a year ago, "even those [public works] that are 'on the shelf' generally cannot be undertaken quickly enough to provide timely stimulus to the economy."
[Review & Outlook]

Most of the rest of this project spending will go to such things as renewable energy funding ($8 billion) or mass transit ($6 billion) that have a low or negative return on investment. Most urban transit systems are so badly managed that their fares cover less than half of their costs. However, the people who operate these systems belong to public-employee unions that are campaign contributors to . . . guess which party?

Here's another lu-lu: Congress wants to spend $600 million more for the federal government to buy new cars. Uncle Sam already spends $3 billion a year on its fleet of 600,000 vehicles. Congress also wants to spend $7 billion for modernizing federal buildings and facilities. The Smithsonian is targeted to receive $150 million; we love the Smithsonian, too, but this is a job creator?

Another "stimulus" secret is that some $252 billion is for income-transfer payments -- that is, not investments that arguably help everyone, but cash or benefits to individuals for doing nothing at all. There's $81 billion for Medicaid, $36 billion for expanded unemployment benefits, $20 billion for food stamps, and $83 billion for the earned income credit for people who don't pay income tax. While some of that may be justified to help poorer Americans ride out the recession, they aren't job creators.

As for the promise of accountability, some $54 billion will go to federal programs that the Office of Management and Budget or the Government Accountability Office have already criticized as "ineffective" or unable to pass basic financial audits. These include the Economic Development Administration, the Small Business Administration, the 10 federal job training programs, and many more.

Oh, and don't forget education, which would get $66 billion more. That's more than the entire Education Department spent a mere 10 years ago and is on top of the doubling under President Bush. Some $6 billion of this will subsidize university building projects. If you think the intention here is to help kids learn, the House declares on page 257 that "No recipient . . . shall use such funds to provide financial assistance to students to attend private elementary or secondary schools." Horrors: Some money might go to nonunion teachers.

The larger fiscal issue here is whether this spending bonanza will become part of the annual "budget baseline" that Congress uses as the new floor when calculating how much to increase spending the following year, and into the future. Democrats insist that it will not. But it's hard -- no, impossible -- to believe that Congress will cut spending next year on any of these programs from their new, higher levels. The likelihood is that this allegedly emergency spending will become a permanent addition to federal outlays -- increasing pressure for tax increases in the bargain. Any Blue Dog Democrat who votes for this ought to turn in his "deficit hawk" credentials.

This is supposed to be a new era of bipartisanship, but this bill was written based on the wish list of every living -- or dead -- Democratic interest group. As Speaker Nancy Pelosi put it, "We won the election. We wrote the bill." So they did. Republicans should let them take all of the credit.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

One More Thought On Tonite

I first really got into politics in the 1988 race for the White House (I was a huge Dukakis supporter at the time). Dan Quayle's daughter actually attended my elementary school until after the election and I remember that really made politics personal for me. For the last 20 years I've followed politics closely and despite getting upset from time-to-time over the winners and losers in various races it's hard for me to feel anything other than pride in my country tonight. The United States is a country where we elect our leaders. We have months of debate, but in the end we have an orderly (non-violent) transition of power. It's easy to live in the US and take that for granted, but if one is a student of history (and I fancy myself one) then it's not hard to find a plethora of examples (many recent) where this isn't the case. We're all very lucky to live in a country where we have the ability to pick the leaders that we want in power (even when the "other guy" wins).

I was very pleased with both the concession speech of McCain and the victory speech by Obama. As I said earlier, I certainly hope Obama is successful. This country is in a tough spot right now, but I hope Obama is able to lead us in the right direction. Despite the fact that I didn't vote for him tonight, I'd love to be in a position to vote for him in '12 -- that would say he (and the rest of our government) did a number of things right between now and then.

Why I Voted for McCain

I've considered this race over for some time, and I expect in the next couple of hours it will become official -- Barack Obama will be the next President of these United States. I haven't posted in a while (apparently since July) and I didn't think it was right to campaign on my blog, but I would like to explain why I voted the way I did. First of all I voted against Bush twice. I'm a right-leaning centrist who is a fiscal conservative and as liberal as they come in the case of social issues. I believe in low taxes, limited government, free trade and very strict separation of Church and State. I want the government to stay out of my personal life.

I've been a big fan of McCain for a long time for a very simple reason -- in my opinion I think that McCain does what he believes is right, not what he believes is popular. People can say what they'd like about the decisions that McCain has made in this campaign, but the fact of the matter is we know who this man is. He's served this country for a long time. Probably my biggest problem with Obama is that I don't know who he is. He's certainly a very smart man. He's likely very capable. However 4 years ago he was a newly elected Senator to Illinois. He's done very little since then other than campaign for President (as near as I can tell anyway). I feel as if he purposely didn't make any waves so he could de-throne Hillary. His messages in this campaign have been about change and linking McCain to Bush. They're smart tactics for sure (especially in this environment), but they don't tell me what he'll do in a tough situation. I don't know what he stands for. Most of the policies that Obama has laid out are ones that I disagree substantially. I hope he doesn't turn into a "Robin Hood" and I hope he doesn't declare war on business and free trade.

The other concern I have with an Obama Presidency (and this has nothing to do with him) is that I typically vote to have Congress and the Presidency oppose each other. Call my a cynic, but my experience is that both political parties have factions that I could do without. I'd rather the parties be forced to compromise than to have one in total control. I don't play favorites here. I have no faith in Congress right now. I think both sides are completely irresponsible. I fear that a Democratic-controlled House/Senate coupled with Obama as President will cause a big run-up in spending and give-aways to the left (the same way the Republicans have had give-aways to the right under Bush).

In the end though it really doesn't matter on any of this. The Nation has decided. I really hope Obama is as good as many people seem to believe. This country is need a big morale boost, not to mention a boost to this economy. Maybe Obama can turn things around. He'll have my support (for whatever that is worth).

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Why Hasn't This Been Invented Yet?

Every year Dauber's World gives out "product of the year" awards to products that solve real problems that humans face every day. Yesterday Dauber's World became aware of a product that somehow does NOT exist, but clearly should. Androgenic alopecia, better known by it's common name of "male pattern baldness" afflicts a quarter of all men by the age of 25 and two-thirds by the age of 60.

Yesterday official hair-cutter of Dauber's World, Phoebe, told Dauber's World to watch out for getting sunburned. Getting a sub burn on the top of your head while already losing hair is a real kick in the shins. Dauber's World isn't bald, however. Dauber's World is only suffering from thinning hair (at a rapidly increasing rate), and herein lies the problem. After spending an hour in the beauty department in Nordstrom Dauber's World determined that there exists no SPF-rated sun block specifically formulated to put in thinning hair. There are lots of sub blocks out there for your skin and for your face. There are even sun blocks to protect YOUR HAIR. There isn't any specially-formulated sun block to put in thinning hair. Dauber's World thinks this would be a killer product. You can't use traditional sun block in your hair -- it's makes your hair greasy and gross looking. If you are completely bald then normal sun block is fine, but male pattern baldness doesn't work like that. It's a gradual thing. One "helpful" sales person yesterday suggested to Dauber's World that he "wear a hat"!

Is it possible that here, in the 21st century, human civilization can do nothing else to protect the scalps of balding men from sun burn than to suggest that they wear a hat? A hat!?!?!? That solution was available over two thousand years ago. Considering the quantity of products made for balding men it's astounding that such a product hasn't been invented yet. The first company to release such a product will surely win the next "product of the year" award from Dauber's World.

Friday, June 27, 2008

At The End of The Day (Redux)

Almost 3 and a half years ago Dauber's World made one of its most seminal posts about the overuse of the phrase "at the end of the day". Well, much to Dauber's World's chagrin the "at the end of the day" craze hasn't waned a bit. In fact, through Dauber's World's completely unscientific research it's gotten much worse. Every single day from the highest ranking executives to the lowest levels of the organization people throughout the English-speaking World are using "at the end of the day" to make what they're saying sound more important than it really is.

Dauber's World has had it. The usage of this phrase has reached epidemic proportions. Never before in the history of business has a phrase been more over-used. And it STILL doesn't mean anything! Dauber's World is making an open plea to all loyal readers: stop using this expression! Actually, Dauber's World will go one step further: encourage others to stop using the expression and correct those that use it. Dauber's World dreams of one day going to meetings where people are able to emphasize the importance of something without feeling compelled to say "at the end of the day."

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Dauber's World Offer Superior Readability vs. All Other Blogs

Dauber's World doesn't get it. Apparently the market for light beers with a hint of lime was so under-served that we need not one, but TWO major-label American beer makers selling them. First there was the release of Miller Chill last summer. A disgusting blend of crappy beer with a hint of lime and salt. Memo to Miller: this is beer, not a margarita. Then, to add credence to the idea that there must be a market here Budweiser released Bud Light Lime recently. Wtf? Dauber's World loves this marketing though (from their web site):

"Bud Light Lime is a premium light beer that combines the superior drinkability of Bud Light with a splash of 100% natural lime flavor."

Superior drinkability? What is that exactly? Dauber's World isn't even sure if "drinkability" is a word, but regardless Dauber's World has absolutely no idea what it means. It's not like Bud Light is a liquid while other beers are solids. Now THAT would be superior drinkability. Dauber's World hates it when marketers fabricate criteria for their product that makes no sense. At least say it tastes better or something. That's at least a claim. Dauber's World has never heard of anyone suggest one beverage over another for its superior drinkability. Furthermore, what is "100% natural lime flavor"? That sounds suspiciously like "not lime juice". Frankly it seems like a clever riddle: what is 100% natural lime flavor, but not made of limes? These guys at Bud Light Lime need to take a page from the Jawbone people. Noise Assassin is genius. Superior drinkability is just plain retarded.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

What Have You Done Krazee-Eyez?

Dauber's World has been a fan of Chris Williams (interesting fact: Chris Williams is Vanessa Williams' brother) since November 3rd, 2002. That's the day that Chris Williams' episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm aired. Williams, you see, is none other than Krazee-Eyez Killa himself. It's a great Curb episode (official TV show of Dauber's World), but Williams practically steals the show (of course the best scene is probably Larry calling directory assistance trying different spellings of the name "Killa"). Over the years though, Dauber's World has watched Williams' career with dismay. He's never been able to capture the genius that was Krazee-Eyez. Then, the other day, to the horror of Dauber's World, Dauber's World saw Williams hawking KFC's new Smoky Chipotle Wings! Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

While on the subject of KFC, why is it that they're always coming up with smoky this, or barbecue that? Can't KFC just make decent chicken? Maybe they should go to Popeye's. Not the most glamorous of chains, Popeye's still has (in the opinion of Dauber's World) the best fried chicken out there (but you have to get spicy). Popeye's is also one of the few places where you can say "breast up-charge" in public without people thinking you're weird. Well, maybe not.