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Showing posts from March, 2010

Thoughts on Health Care--In Between the Extremes

I haven’t been following the recent health care debate very closely, but I’m glad that Health Care Reform has passed. I’m surprised to hear so many staunch Republicans complaining about “the way it was passed” considering their tactics, since the Clinton years, of filibustering everything; and then complaining about how this was not done with more consensus…

Living abroad, I am often treated to people’s uninformed opinions about the way “they”—we Americans--all are—overweight, ignorant, gun-toting, polluting, violators of other countries’ national sovereignty--extremists. What is most amusing, or distressing is the way people have of saying these things in front of you, as if you weren’t one of Them and might be insulted or disagree with your interlocutors. It’s not that there isn’t any truth in any of these assertions, it’s that such statements often reflect uninformed (or minimally informed) truth, issued from a very smug outsider perspective.

Let’s take the least polarizing and most…

Novell turns down $2B offer...to be continued

So let's see if I can summarize the Novell thing as i understand it.

a/ The offer is from a hedge fund
b/ the offer is 50% above EV
c/ the offer was turned down

c/ can be written off as a mere negotiation step. The board is rejecting the first offer on the table. What else do you expect them to do? There is nothing to see here and I would still put the odds very high on Novell is a sell.

I have met Hovsepian, the CEO. He is a decent enough guy and the last time I saw him, he was quite serious about growing the novell franchise. And what a base they had, about $1B in cash. The market value of that company has been drastically undervalued for years. It is so bad that the part together are worth less than the individual parts sold off. So a 50% hike from EV is nothing to sneer at but it is not as generous as it first may seem. By definition of a first offer.

Then there is the a/ part, namely that the offer is coming from a hedge fund. That is interesting, at least to me, from sev…

The Reluctant Skiier--Part II "Le Club"

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So many of our friends raved about their vacations at Le Club, that we had to try it out. First of all, an important distinction: there are two kinds of Club Meds. The swinging singles type—“Gala Swinga” memorialized in the cult French movies “Les Bronzes” (the tan ones) and “Les Bronzes font du Ski” (The Tan ones go skiing) and the family club med (basically like an all-in-one-vacation with built-in day-camp for your children). Note: Family Club Med is Not the place to meet somebody unless you are a GO, a GM in the market for nice divorce/es with two or three children, or the teenage children of a GM.

Both versions of Le Club have their own lingo, which seems contrived to my American sensibilities (and hey, we’re the people who gave the world Disney)…or maybe it’s because interacting with complete strangers in a vacation camp environment is not my experience of what the French generally like to do; however, considering Le Club is a cultural phenomenon in France, it must respond to so…

Some thoughts on European vs. American attitudes towards childrearing

In Spain or France, it is perfectly acceptable to outsource your children. In the US, it’s not even acceptable to admit you might (occasionally) “want” to outsource your child. In fact, if you are an American mother and haven’t breast fed your child until age three and home-schooled them for the duration of their secondary education, and aren’t out there driving yourself ragged taking your children to all kinds of enriching extra-curricular activities and tutors, muffins for mom, doughnuts for dad, volunteering to be class parent, field trip parent, co-ordinating class parties, birthday parties and playdates -- completely terrorized by the possibility that you are failing to give them every advantage in life and Your Child Might Fall Behind…you’re probably falling short as a parent.

When I sent my children to an International school, I learned of such old-fashioned and quaint practices as “cocktail play-dates” -- your children play, while you nurse a drinky-poo and chat with your frie…

We hope they're good at Math...

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Parochial School PE and Mardi Gras in the 80s

Among my worst memories growing up, PE (physical education) at Christ the King parochial school features prominently. I am naturally clumsy with poor eye-hand coordination (and this is not in an endearing Bella Swan of Twilight kind of way). PE in the 1980s featured lots of team sports involving throwing, catching and dodging balls as well as the (now) incomprehensible practice of letting the kids pick the teams. Needless to say the team captains were always the most popular and athletic boys and girls. I remember listening to them go down the names of my classmates hoping to avoid the impossible--the humiliation of being picked last or (occasionally) second to last. By fifth grade, I discovered an escape hatch from the disapproving screams of "Way to Go Mason!" as they rolled the ball towards me in kickball...and I tripped over it, or my prayers went unanswered and the baseball came my way in the outfield. I volunteered to be t…

TRAPPED

Someone come save me...

So this morning the lights went out. How did I first notice? The lights on my router were off! I mean completely off! I immediately knew it was no good.

I also grew to realize how dependent on electricity my whole life has become. See, I barely leave the house. Nathalie, she likes it outside. Me too, however, I can go on for 3 days without leaving the house.

I panicked a little when I realized all my computers where down. Yes even my PS3s. Argh! What to do? I decide to go make some coffee only to find that it too, of course is out of commission as it works purely from the main source. I realize I can't use gas because I don't have gas.

I feel a big empty void inside... I can't use my laptop as I don't have the music I need on it and anyway, the fucking Internet is down!

I take a shower. At least that works for now with the reserve of hot water that electricity has already heated... I start thinking about the fact that our lives have completely evo…

FT: time to ban naked CDS

In all the studying I have done of the financial crisis, one instrument stood out as nefarious: the naked CDS. I have long been convinced that they need to be banned.

Last week Bernanke said they would investigate their use in the Greek crisis. This morning Munchau, pens an article calling for their outlawing.

I generally do not like to propose bans. But I cannot understand why we are still allowing the trade in credit default swaps without ownership of the underlying securities. Especially in the eurozone, currently subject to a series of speculative attacks, a generalised ban on so-called naked CDSs should be a no-brainer.

Naked CDSs are the instrument of choice for those who take large bets against European governments, most recently in Greece. Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, said last week that the Fed was investigating “a number of questions relating to Goldman Sachs and other companies in their derivatives arrangements with Greece”. Using CDSs to destabilise a…