Saturday, June 17, 2006

Gates and High School Reform

Its always noble when someone of means attempts to tackle the problem of poor and worsening education at the high school level in the United States. After all - it makes people giddy because money is supposed to solve everything right?

I don't think anyone can deny education degradation is probably the biggest threat to America's future, but for all the money and intellectual street-cred the Gateses have, its amazing their lack of planning.

I won't say anything more against them because its just wrong to sit back and criticize someone for at least trying to tackle such a large problem. So I'll offer a little advice in what is going to be a prolonged struggle.

When we decided to put a man on the moon - did the first rocket have the strength to get to the moon? No - it didn't. Was the plan of attack a single iteration whereby a rocket was either going to get thor or not ? No. Accomplishing the goal was made through accomplishing several smaller goals which prepared everyone for the ultimate challenge. Why not do the same for education?

Or to put the analogy closer to Bill's home - did he try to build Windows 95 first? Of course the answer is no - that came only after he had DOS, Win 3.x and Apple to help guide the vision. The point is that smaller successes and innovations were needed before the OS for the masses could be made. Some argue Windows XP is still far from perfect - but thats another story.

Albeit fixing the MOST troubled school would generate the biggest bragging rights, but why not tackle some schools which exhibit some of the problems of the worst school, but have less inertia to being fixed. I'd take some small victories and build on them over the high risk/reward of trying to shoot for the moon. If you fail - its twice as hard to get people to believe in your ability the second time around. So try promising little and delivering big.

Find out what it is that is causing the students on the margin to drop out. How much effort would it take to convert the 5 students of every 100 who have the most potential to graduate yet are for some reason or another dropping out.

Add a couple wins to your belt, gain some converts in the education system, build up the reform base, and offer a plan that has proof of success.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

AMD & TXN - Two Sure Plays on Semi

So profit forecasts for both AMD and Intel are set to be lower in the next 12months as they duke it out between each other for everything from consumer PC to server PC. Take note that AMD's margins excluding flash memory exceeded Intels. Second notice that AMD has taken the lead on energy efficient chips for servers. When you consider that the Internet is finally coming alive again and infastructure to run the Internet is being more fully utilized - a new growth pattern will emerge to serve everything from SOX data records, to on-demand videos, to web searches, video download services etc.

Just think, if companies like Microsoft and Google are battling the telecoms about net neutrality ( no quality of service differentiation) as the telecoms begin to realize its expensive expanding the network to serve Google and Microsofties planned services - Imagine the other side - storing and serving all this info.

With 50% of the cost of a data center going to electricity bills to run the servers, don't bet on the REIT that buys up land near cheap power - bet on the new buildings where chip efficiency offsets locational energy price differences. Unless you think Intel is going to make a more energy efficient chip anytime soon - bet on AMD - they already have it everyone from the CIO down is noticing.

So what about TXN - well lets just say that cell phones with Vcast and all sort of mostly useless functions that we consumers find amusing - well thats TXN's ballgame. Also lets not forget about the DLP TVs which have the best picture quality.....plasma...what's that?

Sunday, June 04, 2006

National Guard To NM

For once - a smart move - Send the national guard to the boarder to ensure that the talk of amnesty doesn't cause a massive increase in crossings.