Archive for October, 2009

some new blogs for the roll

I’m adding a few new blogs to my blog roll–I must admit I haven’t looked at it for a while.

Dr. Don Scansen is now an independant contractor to the semiconductor industry and has a great name for his website.  Check out his blog here.

A man I met in pre-natal class has a pretty darn good blog about fatherhood, as well as an interesting name.  You can check out Dave Matthew’s blog here.

And one of the two No Agenda cronies, tech guru John C. Dvorak has his own blog here.  An entertaining and informative look at the world.

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H1N1 (swine flu) and facebook

Well as flu vaccine season comes to Canada we are seeing some back and forth on whether the H1N1 flu vaccine should be given or not.  Some say it is untested, and some question whether the adjuvants used to boost the power of vaccines may cause more problems.  As for H1N1 itself, the jury is still out whether this is more or less severe than the common flu.

The Ottawa Citizen and Ottawa Sun both told the story of a young H1N1 victim in the city.  Will we see more?  One thing I’m sure of is that of my group of Facebook friends I definitely see people who are taking it, people who are not, and some who are unsure.  And the people I mention are not afraid to talk about it on Facebook.  I will definitely be watching Facebook in order to see how a small subsection of people I know react to H1N1 and the vaccine.  Social media and personal healthcare–together tackling this very contentious issue.

BTW, for more information on adjuvants, see this article from Scientific American.  It is generally pro adjuvants, but beyond the controversy it contains a good explanation of what the mysterious adjuvants do.

Bill Clinton and healthcare reform

I had the good fortune of attending the AdvaMed 2009 conference from October 12th to the 14th, and one of the plenary speakers happened to be Bill Clinton.  I was quite intrigued to hear him speak.  I know these former presidents usually command a pretty penny to hear them talk, but I was skeptical whether it would be worth it or not.

Anyhoo, the speech was pretty good with discussions around the healthcare (of course), the recession, education, and Africa.  There was definitely some political jabs being thrown (Clinton/Democrats good – Bush/Republicans bad), pushing forward his current work, as well as some interesting facts concerning healthcare spending compared with the rest of the world.  Overall a satisfactory speech–not earth moving.

It became much more interesting when it was opened up for questions.  Edwards LifeScience CEO Michael Mussallem (also the current AdvaMed Chairman), asked some tough questions about the health care bill and how it would affect the medical technology industry.  There is currently part of the bill that would add a tax to medical device manufacturers.  I thought Mr. Clinton’s answers were very good.  He countered that in order to change the bill, AdvaMed could propose other measures instead of just being against it.  He also said that one could look at abuses in the system (overuse of technology) and try to correct those situations.

Another question was whether a bipartisan vote would be necessary.  Clinton answered that it would be nice to have, but not necessary, bringing up some economic reforms from his first term.  He also relayed an interesting story about his attempt at a healthcare reform bill when the Democrats didn’t have the house (his second term), and had Bob Dole ready to approve with some compromise, before higher ups in the Republican party wanted it stopped–and of course it never did go through.

All in all, ok speech, but much more impressive in the way he handled tough questions.

Dow tops 10,000

I know this blog post is a bit late.  I’ve been busy transitioning between two jobs in the greater organization, and also had a trip to Washington DC last week.  My time has been full, but enough with excuses. 

I certainly noticed when the DJIA got over the psychologically significant 10,000 mark on the 14th.  A very good question would be whether this will last.  Truthfully, I still don’t know.  Some commentators have mentioned that with the fall of the dollar, this doesn’t mean that it has really gone up.  But the truth is, the market is definitely up since the low of ~6500 (about 1000 higher than my predicted low of 5500).  I think a lot will depend on the second blow to the economy (commercial real estate bust and smaller banks going under).  IMHO, I don’t think it will go down, but not necessarily all the way down to 6500 again.  American companies (whether they employ that many Americans, or not) are through the worst and will do alright for a while.  A so-called jobless recovery.  It will be interesting to observe the next 3 months–the Christmas numbers will tell an interesting story.

Have we learned nothing from our southern neighbours?

I keep hearing these rumours about house prices going up again in Canada.  It seems that these low interest rates along with comments that the “recession is over” have boosted confidence with home buyers again.  30, 35 and 40 year mortgages are still being offered to potential buyers up here.

Have we learned nothing from the housing crash in the US?  It seems that the relative strength of Canadian banks, along with an increase of GDP has created a buying environment again.  But both of those facts cannot counteract the spectre of rising unemployment.  When you do not have a job, you cannot afford to make large house payments.  It’s as simple as that.  This article on cbc.ca (actually from September) reports on the rising house costs in certain Canadian markets, but provides some good analysis on why this will not last if mortgage rates start to rise.  Actually, judging by the comments, it does seem if many people do realize the problems ahead.

And another blog post with some historical views.

I found this blog post (and the comments) from Edward Harrison on Seeking Alpha quite illuminating.  Although I do think the US has already printed too much money–too much debt from the Bush years–and may have to pay severely for it before they can think of printing much more.  Canada seems to be in a bit better shape–the Mulroney years were not quite as exuberant as the Reagan years, and I still think Paul Martin was one of the better finance ministers (thank goodness for those surpluses).

Some not so good job-loss numbers…

… from the NY Times.  American corporations seem to be in a wait and see mode while everything gets figured out.  See the chart here. 

Also a story on Canada.com with a look at the overall effect to both Canada and the US.  Story here.

BTW, I do promise to put some good stats up here some time–can’t be doom and gloom all the time!