Sunday, July 31, 2016

From The People Who Brought You Greece! The Current Mess That Is.

One of the former Greek politicians complains and conflates a combination of elements in what appears to be a self defense attempt. In the left wing Project Syndicate he bemoans:

One bloc represents the old troika of liberalization, globalization, and financialization. It may still be in power, but its stock is falling fast, as David Cameron, Europe’s social democrats, Hillary Clinton, the European Commission, and even Greece’s post-capitulation Syriza government can attest. Trump, Le Pen, Britain’s right-wing Brexiteers, Poland’s and Hungary’s illiberal governments, and Russian President Vladimir Putin are forming the second bloc. Theirs is a nationalist international – a classic creature of a deflationary period – united by contempt for liberal democracy and the ability to mobilize those who would crush it. The clash between these two blocs is both real and misleading. Clinton vs. Trump constitutes a genuine battle, for example, as does the European Union vs. the Brexiteers; but the two combatants are accomplices, not foes, in perpetuating an endless loop of mutual reinforcement, with each side defined by – and mobilizing its supporters on the basis of – what it opposes. The only way out of this political trap is progressive internationalism, based on solidarity among large majorities around the world who are prepared to rekindle democratic politics on a planetary scale. If this sounds Utopian, it is worth emphasizing that the raw materials are already available. 

One can agree that neither bloc leads forward, but neither does the Neo Progressives. Individual equality, rights, responsibility are more critical than societal agglomeration under the control and direction of those who believe they have found the way and all we must do is follow them, However comparing people to the Nazis is always a dangerous path, for on the one hand it simplifies the evils of that regime and on the other hand dilutes true evil by making claims against anyone that the claimant dislikes.

Progressive internationalism is an abandonment of any and all individual rights and the submission of the individual to some elite set of often self chosen managers. Cultures are different and what may work in the US may not work in Greece. How Americans react to change is not the way Germans do. Utopian realizations of group think never work.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Another Cool NASA Photo

One should ask how much these cost. Just to check.

Getting Your Money's Worth

NASA has a wealth of photos. The one above is worth considering.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Do You Trust an Economist?

Over the past eight years I have examined economists and the economy. Now in many ways economists are akin to the Scholastics in the 13th Century. They follow a set of rules for the debate and adherence to the rules often surpasses the facts. We have gotten a mass of confusing and conflicting tales from some of the best. I had followed Romer's employment projections just before the change in Administration and we all know how they turned out.

Now another Ivy league savant basically states that is is we uneducated, that is PhD engineers from MIT, who are misguided. In the NY Times the savant states:

Voters clearly aren’t listening to economists. In a recent poll, an overwhelming number of leading economists agreed that Brexit would most likely lower incomes both in Britain and in the rest of the European Union. Similarly, in the United States, most top economists agree that “past major trade deals have benefited most Americans” and that “trade with China makes most Americans better off.” But those aren’t sentiments we will be hearing anytime soon from Mr. Trump or Mrs. Clinton.In one respect, it is easy to understand why. According to a CBS News/New York Times poll conducted last month, only 35 percent of registered voters thought the United States gained from globalization, while 55 percent thought it lost. On issues of international trade, the current crop of candidates is following public opinion. 

The real problem is not that we are not listening but that we are and it is all too often a cacaphony of conflicting ideas devoid of any factual base. They are politically oriented opinions. There are no laws of nature in economics. We know more about cancer genetic dynamics than we know about trade. We feel trade as a good or bad thing, yet it is complex and it benefits are often lacking. We see everything as made in China, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Cambodia, but then again we see nothing made in Russia or even Argentina.  

Leadership can focus the populace on the benefits and make them see what works, Lack of leadership results in lack of trust, lack of trust then in suspicion, especially of all things. 

Thus is is not the white non-college educated males that are the economists problem.  It is the PhDs who work in the real world that do not tolerate the mystical machinations of these soothsayers. Sorry folks, we just don't trust you.

Eisenhower and the Budget

There is a wonderful book by Fred Kaplan, The Wizards of Armageddon, where he states: 

Although a former Army general—and, therefore, a man might be expected to support extravagant defense budgets—Eisenhower was a penny pincher, perhaps especially when it earns? to overseeing the military establishment that he knew so well early as 1946, he frequently lectured fellow officers on the need to pay close attention to what “the economy can stand.” During the 1952 Presidential campaign, he declared that “the foundation x military strength is economic strength” and that a “bankrupt America is more the Soviet goal than an America conquered on the field of battle.”

Eisenhower had an almost mystical attachment to the unfettered free market and a loathing toward any tampering with Like most Republicans, he despised taxation, debt and inflation feeling that if they were allowed to spiral out of control, the free economy, and with it, the free society, would collapse.

On May 4, not quite four months after taking office, Eisenhower wrote a confidential letter to his good friend General Alfred Gruenther, Chief of Staff of SHAPE, the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe. “As you know,” he began, “we are trying * bring the total expenditures of the American Government wither reasonable limits. This is not because of any belief that we can afford relaxation of the combined effort to combat Soviet communism. On the contrary, it grows out of a belief that our organizer effective resistance must be maintained over a long period of years and that this is possible only with a healthy American economy 1 we should proceed recklessly and habitually to create budget deceits year after year, we have with us an inflationary influence that can scarcely be successfully combatted. Our particular form of economy could not endure.”

Two and a half months earlier, Eisenhower’s Budget Director, Joe Dodge, had produced a report that must have disturbs: Eisenhower greatly. The size of the federal debt, Dodge noted, was $267.5 billion, more than five and a half times the debt held just before World War II. If the spending policies of the Truman Ac- ministration were continued, the debt would reach $307 billion by 1958, $33 billion beyond the statutory limit. Thirty percent of national income was currently being snatched by government; more than two-thirds of that revenue was being taken by the federal government, and two-thirds of that went toward foreign aid and military spending. Foreign aid had the full support of Eisenhower; he considered it the program in which “the United States is getting more for its money than in any other.” Therefore, given the statistics and given Eisenhower’s economic philosophy, holding the line on military spending seemed mandatory. And since a huge conventional force of troops, tanks, ships, fighter planes, artillery and so forth needed for large-scale combat was most expensive of all, Eisenhower was determined to cut back on this nonnuclear side of the military.

There was something else besides economic concerns that drove Eisenhower to this position, however, and that was Korea. The Korean War had been trudging along for nearly two and a half years when Eisenhower took office, and it seemed to be heading nowhere, toward neither victory nor defeat. By the following July, when an armistice would finally be signed, more than 33,000 Americans would have died in the war, and for a purpose that few back home could figure out. "No More Koreas” became a popular slogan, especially among politicians who liked to boost the Air Force, whose philosophy of Air Power saw no need to slug things out in a messy ground conflict, at the expense of the Army, whose mission involved precisely that. Retired Army General Eisenhower certainly had no favoritism toward the Air Force, but, perhaps with convictions more sincere than most, he joined in with the “No More Koreas” cry.

Eisenhower’s hesitation to get involved in small, distant battles, especially battles fought in Asia, antedated Korea by many years. In the early-to-mid-1920s, Eisenhower was an Army major assigned as chief aide to General Fox Conner, commander of U.S. forces in Panama. Conner taught him how to think about military decisions systematically, according to the logic of the standard five-paragraph field order—assessing Mission, Situation, Enemy Troops, Our Troops, Plans, Logistic Support and Communications, in that order.

It is worth reading this again in the context of today.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Eating One's Young

There is an interesting tale in Fast Company about Yahoo. They note:

According to John Sullivan, a talent management consultant who advises firms on recruiting strategies, this strategy failure shouldn't come as a huge shock. "Most mergers don’t work," he says. Only a few big companies acquire smaller organizations successfully, and it’s a very thoughtful process. "It’s like divorced families joining," he adds. The big issue with Yahoo was that it simply did not have the system in place to cultivate the new talent and make them feel part of the new company. "Yahoo has a bad habit of killing the products [it buys]," Sullivan says. "It doesn’t make you feel welcome." A few examples of the dozens of startup products Yahoo bought and then shut down include MessageMe, Vizify, and EvntLive. Many companies are simply not good at acquiring. Sullivan used to work at Hewlett-Packard, and he noted the stifling culture that often led to unhappy new entrants. To get talent to work well under new management, they have to be enthusiastic. The new company should look exciting—a place where they can continue to do their work. By appearances, Yahoo is likely not that place. Sullivan points to Facebook, whose campus is filled with perks like "a free ice cream store." Just the space itself, he believes, could likely energize new additions. Sullivan adds that Facebook's ethos is designed to build and innovate new products. In contrast, Yahoo's office and internal culture, says Sullivan, doesn't appear (from his outsider's perspective) to have that kind of startup excitement.

So why does Verizon think it can do what Yahoo did not accomplish? Having watched Verizon since my NY Tel days in 1964, that is some 52 years, both within and without, one thing is clear. The "immune system" of Verizon rejects anything new. So the above mentioned problem with Yahoo will certainly not be remedied by Verizon. If anything it will be accelerated.

All one has to do is look at those whom Verizon brought in from the outside, the average tenure was less than four years. Their replacements were long time company stalwarts. Not that they really were any better, in fact they were often worse, look at Genuity, but the system will not accept new folks. Even those who started there and then returned!

Can a company change this cycle. I have yet to see it happen. It is often not the CEO who does it but the corporate culture. The resentment of the old times, the pole climbers, the Community College grads who resent the Harvard and Stanford grads. It just does not seem to work. Period!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Here We Go Again!

Melanoma is one of the deadliest forms of cancer. It is a skin cancer and it multiplies and metastasizes at a phenomenal rate. Back when I first started to study this in the 1960s it presented as an already metastasized lesion. I saw mothers and young people die in a most horrific fashion.

Then along came skin exams. By a dermatologist using a dermatoscope one can get a fairly good assessment of the malignant potential while still in early and curable stages. namely skin exams really do save lives. They are cheap, and skin biopsies are also somewhat inexpensive.

Now along come our friends at the USPSTF, the same crew that has been opining on prostate cancer. In JAMA they state:

The USPSTF concludes that the current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of visual skin examination by a clinician to screen for skin cancer in adults...

That's right folks, don't do those skin screenings, just wait till there is a spreading bleeding lesion that stains your shirts and then perhaps you should see someone! But, wait, there is nothing we can do then, so just go home and die.

Don't we just love these folks!

Now read this one on the harms:

Evidence is adequate that visual skin examination by a clinician to screen for skin cancer leads to harms that are at least small, but current data are insufficient to precisely bound the upper magnitude of these harms. Potential harms of skin cancer screening include misdiagnosis, overdiagnosis, and the resulting cosmetic and—more rarely—functional adverse effects resulting from biopsy and overtreatment.

The harms are negligible. You want patients to be aware and to see someone before it gets to where it was in 1964! Back then we just about wrote people off. 

They state:

Melanoma mortality rates for men and women in the Schleswig-Holstein region of Germany, which participated in the Skin Cancer Research to Provide Evidence for Effectiveness of Screening in Northern Germany (SCREEN) study, as compared with the whole of Germany. The original SCREEN study reported a relative 48% reduction in melanoma mortality (or 1 fewer death per 100 000 screened) resulting from a program of 1-time clinical visual skin cancer screening combined with a disease awareness campaign.  

 I have heard the author speak several time. The problem with the result is several fold. First is is northern Germany, not Miami! Second, Germany has limited the number of Dermatologists so that screening is at best problematic due to access. The payment by German Health Authorities is de minimus. 

Thus if the data is not there then go get it folks. Instead this group just like stopping all Health Care!

One wonders when one looks towards the NCI and their recent warning to people:

In the trial, patients and their skin-check partners who received training in how to find and track suspicious moles over time found substantially more early-stage melanomas than pairs who only received reminders from their doctors to perform regular skin self-examinations. The training also reduced the worry often felt by patients who are told to keep an eye on their skin but not offered detailed guidance, explained June Robinson, M.D., of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and lead author of the study.

Here we have not physicians but family members! Apparently the NCI relies on clinical studies. Perhaps the USPSTF could learn something from this as well! They should check it out, there is this thing called the Internet and it has this thing called Google, try it folks!

CRISPR Trial in China

We have been watching CRISPR technology for about three years now with a combination of expectation and concern.

Nature reports a CRISPR trial in non small cell lung cancer by blocking the mediating effects of PD-1.

The Nature article states:

The Chinese trial will enrol patients who have metastatic non-small cell lung cancer and for whom chemotherapy, radiation therapy and other treatments have failed. “Treatment options are very limited,” says Lu. “This technique is of great promise in bringing benefits to patients, especially the cancer patients whom we treat every day.”Lu’s team will extract immune cells called T cells from the blood of the enrolled patients, and then use CRISPR–Cas9 technology — which pairs a molecular guide able to identify specific genetic sequences on a chromosome with an enzyme that can snip the chromosome at that spot — to knock out a gene in the cells. The gene encodes a protein called PD-1 that normally acts as a check on the cell’s capacity to launch an immune response, to prevent it from attacking healthy cells.

Now the PD-1 blockade helps the body to reject self immune attack. It also blocks targeted immunotherapeutiucs.  The risk is that by placing this gene in certain cells it may proliferate and cause catastrophic immune breakdown. There does not as of yet appear to have been adequate research along these lines. We know that many MAB therapies require this blockage but there are two way elements at work. Here we are inserting a gene to block, well just possibly everything!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Watch the Stock

Verizon it seems has decided to buy Yahoo for some $5 billion per the BBC. They state:

US internet firm Yahoo announced in February that it was looking at "strategic alternatives" for its core internet business. Verizon declined to comment on the reports. A formal announcement is expected on Monday before US markets open for trading. Over the last few years Yahoo has struggled to keep up with the changing internet advertising landscape, with some analysts arguing that it has failed to remain relevant in many of its core markets.

The key question the shareholders should ask is what is the basis of this valuation. Verizon has value because it owns licenses to spectrum. That is an asset and one can value that. Really.

However what does Yahoo own? Customers? No, they can disappear in a heart beat. Then what is the basis for this valuation? Good question.  Let's see how they spin this one.

Now look at the Balance Sheet.

In Millions of USD (except for per share items)  As of 2016-06-30
Cash & Equivalents  1,325.40
Short Term Investments  5,055.68
Cash and Short Term Investments  6,381.09
Accounts Receivable - Trade, Net  991.18
Receivables - Other  -
Total Receivables, Net  991.18
Total Inventory  -
Prepaid Expenses  224.73
Other Current Assets, Total  -
Total Current Assets  7,597.00
Property/Plant/Equipment, Total - Gross  -
Accumulated Depreciation, Total  -
Goodwill, Net  431.37
 Intangibles, Net  202.12
Long Term Investments  34,412.45
Other Long Term Assets, Total  245.12
Total Assets  44,214.29
Accounts Payable  171.62
Accrued Expenses  982.86
Notes Payable/Short Term Debt  -
Current Port. of LT Debt/Capital Leases  -
Other Current liabilities, Total  122.03
Total Current Liabilities  1,276.51
Long Term Debt  1,266.28
Capital Lease Obligations  -
Total Long Term Debt  1,266.28
Total Debt  1,266.28
Deferred Income Tax  13,115.82
Minority Interest  32.41
Other Liabilities, Total  159.38
Total Liabilities & Shareholders' Equity  15,850.40
Redeemable Preferred Stock, Total  -
Preferred Stock - Non Redeemable, Net  -
Common Stock, Total  -
Additional Paid-In Capital  -
Retained Earnings (Accumulated Deficit)  -
Treasury Stock - Common  -
Other Equity, Total  28,363.89
Total Equity  28,363.89
Total Liabilities & Shareholders' Equity  44,214.29
Shares Outs - Common Stock Primary Issue  -
Total Common Shares Outstanding  948.25

Friday, July 22, 2016

Assigning Credit

Back in the early 50s with Watson and Crick, one could argue over perhaps a dozen people at best who were in the fray. The paper had two authors.

Today we have papers with in excess of a thousand authors. The recent CRISPR debate provides focus on this issue.

In the recent Nature article there is an excellent discussion of how best to attribute what to whom.

They note:

The history of CRISPR–Cas9 gene editing has become a subject of fierce debate and a bitter, high-stakes patent battle. Researchers and institutes have been jostling aggressively to make sure that they are credited for their share of the work in everything from academic papers to news stories.

 They continue:

In January, Eric Lander, president of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts, tossed into this minefield a historical portrait called 'The Heroes of CRISPR'2. It was instantly controversial. Some said that it marginalized the contributions of certain researchers, and they questioned the decision to publish the article without a conflict-of-interest statement noting that the Broad Institute is embroiled in a patent dispute that hinges on determining who invented CRISPR–Cas9 gene editing.

Lander may very well have stepped into a hornets nest. One suspects he was just trying to lay out the best understanding of what occurred. That is always useful. But in today's world we have a proliferation if not explosion of post docs and junior faculty. How does one best account for all the conversations, insights, bench work, and the like.

It continues:

Outside that community, however, the accolades continue to be heaped on senior investigators. “We need to invent ways to expand the medals podium,” says Lander. “The idea that scientific discovery involves just one, two or three people is so nineteenth-century.”

Science is no the Oscars. There is no Best Director or Best Film. It is an incremental process of incremental contributions until that one moment that some it comes together. The biological sciences especially is a team effort, and for better or worse the team may be what gets recognition. The recent Silicon Valley attempt to make this Hollywood just intensifies the star issue, a politically correct stardom at that.

Greater Fool Theory

The "greater fool theory" is a basic principle in the financial markets and real estate. If one buys something it is a good deal only if someone else at a later time will pay you more.

Now in business reasonable people examine revenue potential, look at cash flows on a projected basis, consider contingencies.

In the mid 90s I taught a finance course at Columbia Business School and one case was AOL. I saw it as a total zero. My students saw it differently. Warner bought it and it almost destroyed the company.

Now Verizon wants Yahoo. Why? What "value" does it have? Verizon has assets in licenses, exclusive rights to ever increasing assets. Yahoo has nothing. As a shareholder and former executive, I really wonder who came up with this idea.

As the NY Times reports:

The end of Yahoo as an independent company may be near, and Verizon — long considered the leading contender to buy the aging web pioneer — is the most likely acquirer. The two companies are in advanced talks over a takeover of Yahoo that could be worth close to $5 billion, a person briefed on the matter said on Friday. Any transaction would be for Yahoo’s core internet business, although it is unclear whether a deal would also include other assets like real estate or patents. Both companies are hoping to announce a deal as early as next week, this person said. Verizon is scheduled to report earnings on Tuesday. Still, no final deal has been reached and the talks could still falter, the person cautioned. One of the other finalists could also re-emerge with a higher bid. A spokesman for Verizon declined to comment, while a Yahoo spokeswoman said the company would not comment “until we have a definitive agreement to announce” because it wanted to maintain “the integrity of the process.” 

How does one monetize this company. It has not for wont of trying, yet they are still a dead pig. Verizon is in the infrastructure business. It has never, and I mean never, demonstrated its ability in content. Look at AOL. Now egos may drive the deal but from a fiduciary duty perspective it should be cash flow. That is currently elusive.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

July 21, 1969

Some 47 years ago today a couple of men landed on the moon. I had the opportunity having worked at MIT Instrumentation Lab to had done a small part in the on board star tracker used for navigation. But instead of  sitting down in our offices watching the event I was at the hospital with one of my children and a salmonella infection. It was an interesting lesson. We managed to get a man, actually two, on the moon, but deadly infections were still running loose in the world.

So what was more important that day; moon landing or a broad spectrum antibiotic? I will let you determine! Just a thought to put things in perspective.

He Doth Protest too Much

We commented on the recent article indicating the almost 80% increase in metastatic prostate cancer and the correlation, not yet a causation, with the ACA and the Government's attempt to control health care costs. Now a representative of one of the institutions which have focused on cancers comes out stating what seem obvious, correlation is not causation, but if it talks like a duck, looks like a duck and walks like a duck, well you get the idea.

The blog piece states:

“This study makes a dramatic claim about an issue all of us have been watching eagerly: namely, whether less PSA screening might lead to more advanced cancers. But the current analysis is far from adequate to answer that question sufficiently"

Well not quite. The article just reported the fact and made no causal claim.  Why the extreme protest? Political ties, funding? Should we follow the money? The author stated:

“We looked at a trend and we reported an observation, but we do not claim to have a causative link.”

Yep, that's all folks. No claim. The blog continues:

In addition, in this study, the rise they detected began before USPSTF guidelines for screening changed. There may or may not be a rise in the rates of metastatic disease; but because of a flawed analysis, this study does not answer that important question. “So why was this unusual study leading to calls? It’s a safe guess that a press release sent to reporters nationwide with a somewhat alarming headline was the reason.

Causative or correlative? The same question can be asked about the above conjecture.

What are the facts. First the USPSTF came out with a recommendation based upon flawed studies, the American and European,  which indicated that PSA testing did not impact mortality. Second the Task Force then stated that PSA testing had no value and should not be done. Third, many Internists, most of whom do not spend their days reading and understanding the literature here, just went along with the recommendation. After all, many of their patients would have to pay out of pocket. Fourth, multiple other recent studies have indicated the flaws in the prime studies as well as having demonstrated a rise in metastatic PCa.

So what should believe? Our own lying eyes or the government experts?

In today's environment, trust in Government experts has dwindled to near zero. All one has to do is look at the current political campaigns. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

What's Old is New Again

I remember playing with lasers in the late 60s, we were using them in a laser scanning gyro, an exceptionally accurate and precise mechanism to be used in navigation systems. Mechanical gyros had significant drift and required resetting. The result was in my first paper, co-authored with some pretty bright folks, I was just a tag along as the engineer. Then in the 70s we considered optical inter-satellite links, the 80s we did point to multi-point links, in the 90s I was Chairman of an Israeli company, JOLT, Jerusalem Optical Light Transmission, where we used IR and visible.

Yet whenever you put this stuff in the air with any form of moisture you suffered significant loss.

PCWorld announces another try:

Facebook says it has developed a laser detector that could open the airwaves to new high-speed data communications systems that don't require dedicated spectrum or licenses. The component, disclosed on Tuesday in a scientific journal, comes from the company's Connectivity Lab, which is involved in developing technology that can help spread high-speed Internet to places it currently doesn't reach. Getting Internet signals to new areas is typically done using wireless, because it's much more cost-efficient than running cables to communities outside of urban areas. But traditional wireless comes with speed limitations and requires radio spectrum that often needs to be purchased from the government. Faced with these limitations, engineers have increasingly eyed sending data from point-to-point over laser beams. They don't need any special spectrum or permission, and multiple systems can work in the same area without interfering with each other.

Yep! No license. Never was required. However watch out for water loss and eye damage. Never want one of those pointers poking in your eye.  Most of the above is well known and obvious. It appears however the "new" part is the nature of a distributed receiver. Optical receivers were always a problem. You needed to track a narrow beam, and that was complex. Often we had pigeons sitting on the receiver, just enough stress and strain to off set the beam.

So, all too often the real world comes slamming down on you. One of our biggest problems was the swaying of the old World Trade Center, just enough to lose connections.

Prostate Cancer and the ACA

As we have been writing for the past seven years the ACA and the USPSTF have  stated that PSA tests and prostate exams have no merit. In Science Daily they report:

The number of new cases of metastatic prostate cancer climbed 72 percent in the past decade from 2004 to 2013, reports a new Northwestern Medicine study. The report considers whether a recent trend of fewer men being screened may be contributing to the rise, or whether the disease has become more aggressive -- or both. The largest increase in new cases was among men 55 to 69 years old, which rose 92 percent in the past decade. This rise is particularly troubling, the authors said, because men in this age group are believed to benefit most from prostate cancer screening and early treatment.In addition, the average PSA (prostate-specific antigen) of men who were diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer in 2013 was 49, nearly double that for men diagnosed in 2004 with an average PSA of 25, indicating a greater extent of disease at diagnosis.

In the the article by Weiner et al  they note:

Beginning in 2007, the incidence of metastatic prostate cancer has increased especially among men in the age group thought most likely to benefit from definitive treatment for prostate cancer. These data highlight the continued need for nationwide refinements in prostate cancer screening and treatment.....Although the social and biologic factors underlying these PSA escapes and rising metastatic prostate cancer cases are unknown, the implications of these recent trends highlight the continued need for nationwide refinements in prostate cancer screening and treatment to prevent the morbidity and mortality associated with metastatic prostate cancer. This will be particularly critical for population health economics in the United States considering the added cost of care for metastatic prostate cancer and an aging constituency whose population over the age 65 years will double to over a projected 80 million by the year 2050. In addition, our findings and forthcoming changes in the number of elderly individuals should provide impetus to improve treatments for men with metastatic prostate cancer whose cancer-specific survival has not changed significantly in the past two decades.

Thanks to the ACA and their minions we have managed to see the excruciating increase in death from a manageable disease.

Bridge vs Trump

The BBC was the first to report the collapse and closure of the Tappan Zee Bridge, a part of the NY State Thruway and one of the four major connectors to New York. In fact a major US Interstate, I87/I287. Millions of cars at a time.

What of the NY Times? Nothing! But there must be two dozen Trump stories. Now perhaps the Times missed Brexit, the BBC did not, but those folks in London caught a major infrastructure calamity in the US largest city. Now perhaps the Times thinks Trump is a bigger calamity, one would think so given their coverage. Or perhaps those who follow the Times all live in a small cluster in Manhattan and may not even know what a bridge is. Could be possible.

Then there is the issue of Civil Engineering 101. The center of gravity of a crane if placed in the incorrect spot can result in a crane collapse. They even have instruments for this. The law suits on this will be fantastic. Then there is the issue that the State just left the old bridge alone because in two years they will have a new one. But when a crane slices the old one in half, try getting to work, to Boston to New York, etc.

Oh yes, RT, the Russian News Outlet also carried a piece. But still no NY Times.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Brexit, Harvard and Marsilius

History is worth examining. For millennia humanity has created, endured, suffered under, prospered with, survived as a result of political structures. Brexit is a change in such a structure which has evolved over the past few decades.

Why Brexit? I keep thinking of Marsilius of Padua and his rejection of  papal control over governments. By 1320 under John XXII the papacy in Avignon was attempting to control all the Government in what was then Christian countries. Kings could make some local laws but if the folks back in Avignon did not like them, overthrown! The Church was to Edward II and III in the 14th century what the EU was to England in the 21st. Of course then came Luther, albeit it took the printing press, but now we have the Internet.

Some Harvard person writes:

It may be too difficult to determine the exact relationship between Trump and Farage’s harmful scare tactics, but observers in both countries should pay close attention. It is evident now with the Brexit vote that racist rhetoric and discriminatory policies are not just limited to the United States. They are, in an age of globalization and rapid change, quickly taking hold in international politics, and becoming an influential determinant of policy. Aggressive anti-immigrant rhetoric and the scapegoating of minorities and immigrants must be taken seriously. Britain’s vote to exit the European Union, a decision highly influenced by the xenophobic rationale of UKIP, is just another indicator that there is a serious wave of nativism ascendant in both British and American politics. With international focus on Britain’s recent decision, there is great potential for conversation and change to take place. However, there is also the possibility that rising anti-immigrant sentiment and xenophobia will worsen.  With the risk of increased hostility and prejudice on the horizon, the world’s eyes are fixed on American elections as a key indicator of things to come.  

Somewhat like the NY Times, blaming everything on the current contender for the Republican party but totally failing to ask why? And moreover; what are the historical precedents and where did that lead. Somehow there is that statement of those neglecting to understand the past mistakes are doomed to repeat them, or whatever.

We have been through this process before. Marsilius in 1324 wrote his now famous work on the heretical views of the papacy in Avignon, namely baseless and moreover fraudulent claims of political supremacy, and then failing to understand the development of self rule and regulation.

Revolutions result oftentimes from oppressive rule. They also result from just nonsensical rules as well. Remember the Tea Party! No, Harvard, not those folks walking around today, those folks in Boston back in the 18th century, it must be in some High School text somewhere in a old book store.

More on W10

These guys must be in a panic for some reason, possibly not a good one.

PCWorld reports:  

As July 29 gets closer and the free Windows 10 upgrade offer reaches its final days, Microsoft is pulling out all the stops in order to convince users to upgrade. It’s even willing to give you a new laptop. ... Microsoft retail stores are offering to install Windows 10 on any compatible machine for free. If the store’s technicians don’t complete the upgrade by the end of that business day, they’ll give you a free 15-inch Dell Inspiron notebook. The offer runs between now and July 29.

Now as we have reported earlier, W10 knocked out some older software, especially my Chem Draw, not cheap, as well as a half a dozen drivers. We now have 6 W10 machines, all the on line ones, 2 XPs which are old desk hold overs, limited use, and one W7 lab interface. The W7 is blocked from any updates, never goes on line, and connects to all lab equipment. If that crashes the old XPs will work. The W10 systems will not.

So why upgrade? Been there and done that but the driver problem and SW incompatibility is a nightmare. Sorry Redmond, I know you want customers to do it your way but we have a life too. Good thing they do not run the IRS/ Yet!

Saturday, July 16, 2016


Coriolanus is one of Shakespeare's last plays and frankly one of the more complex. It was based upon one of the Plutarch tales[1] and as such is consistent with the many uses Shakespeare made of classic events. As Plutarch observed:

It may be observed, in general, that when young men arrive early at fame and repute, if they are of a nature but slightly touched with emulation, this early attainment is apt to extinguish their thirst and satiate their appetite; whereas the first distinctions of more and solid and weighty characters do but stimulate and quicken them and take them away like a wind in the pursuit of honour; they look upon these marks and testimonies to their virtue not as a recompense received for what they have already done, but as a pledge given by themselves of what they will perform hereafter, ashamed now to forsake or underlive the credit they have won, or, rather, not to exceed and obscure all that is gone before by the lustre of their following actions. Marcius, having a spirit of this noble make, was ambitious always to surpass himself, and did nothing how extraordinary soever, but he thought he was bound to outdo it at the next occasion; and ever desiring to give continual fresh instances of prowess, he added one exploit to another, and heaped up trophies upon trophies, so as to make it matter of contest also among his commanders, the latter still vying with the earlier, which should pay him the greatest honour and speak highest in his commendation. Of all the numerous wars and conflicts in those days there was not one from which he returned without laurels and rewards. … But Marcius, believing himself bound to pay his mother Volumnia all that gratitude and duty which would have belonged to his father, had he also been alive, could never satiate himself in his tenderness and respect to her.

From this did Shakespeare develop his character. The more recent version by Ralph Fiennes[2] presents Coriolanus in a contemporary setting and presents him as an awkward savior of Rome which then through a manipulation of the masses turn on him which leads to his destruction. Coriolanus is a warrior, not a politician. The politicians manipulate the mob, yet within the mob there are other layers of manipulators. There are what I have called from time to time the "professional back stabbers". This is a group of what may be genetically oriented persons whose sole goal in life is to destroy others. Nothing personal, nothing for a desired end, just the process of personal destruction. Washington is a current day example of where they most congregate. Thus this class attacks Coriolanus who appears both clueless and disinterested. Fiennes does a splendid job at depicting this.

Now comes a version at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey. In this presentation the Fiennes role is displaced by an actor who I would have seen growing up on Staten Island. A big brutal thug, whose demeanor is not that of a lost Fiennes but of some muscle in the local mob. Perhaps appropriate for New Jersey but I fell totally missing the point. The presentation was mediocre at best and the mob complexity was totally missing its thrust.

Yet come the NY Times and its review[3]. They conclude:

If several among the other performances are wanting, the combined effectiveness of the 25-member company is greater than the sum of its lesser parts. The director’s decision to have the actors frequently throng the theater’s aisles lends immediacy and a sense of speed to this resonant production, which sprints along at a fast-paced two hours and 35 minutes, including the intermission.

Frankly this presentation was cacophonous. It lacked any cohesion, it spent too much time on the rabble, and the undercurrent against the current political scene is sophomoric. As expected the Times cannot seem to even give a recipe without making a comment on the current election. The NY Times reviewer states:

Shakespeare’s political drama, of a candidate for high office unsuccessfully coping with seesawing public opinion, assumes fresh resonance in our own interesting times that witness Brexit regret overseas even as so many American voters are voicing their own discontent over their presumptive presidential nominees.

Yes, the mob is a key element of Coriolanus. Yes, the mob can be manipulated. Yes, the results are tragic for all. But that is not why Shakespeare wrote this play. At the time James I was King, and it was the James from whence we get the so named Bible.

Shakespeare seems not to like the populous. As note by Prescott his use of the term popular, as understood to me in relation to the masses seemed always to end in some disaster[4]. The masses can and could be manipulated. The manipulators often do so just for the process itself without any end in mind. The tragedy here is that Coriolanus was a good soldier who was thrown out of his ken, and at first accepted and then destroyed by the masses, to no benefit to them.

But what most seem to miss about Coriolanus as a play and political metaphor is in the play the Tribunes manipulate the masses. In the current election cycle on the Republican side, this seems not to be the case. In fact the masses are rejecting the Tribunes. It is thus an interesting and telling drama. Can the masses be manipulated? All the time. We see it in every strategy. As one of the Democrat Tribunes states; never let a tragedy do to waste. As immoral as such a statement may be, it is echoed so many times.

Thus I would rate the Fiennes presentation as a five star one and the NJ Shakespeare team as at best a one star! To do Shakespeare well, one must understand the underlying human tragedy, not try to make it some anti-politician statement. Done that way it becomes just an echo from the very mob itself, it is popular to paraphrase Shakespeare.

[2] It is interesting to read the one star reviews of this film. It truly tells one about the masses! The resonance of the reviewers with Shakespeare is amazing. The reviewers of course have no idea what they are reflecting upon.

[4] See Shakespeare, Grazia and Wells, Cambridge, 2011, pp 271-272. Language was key and the reference usage in time is essential.

Friday, July 15, 2016


In the opening portion of Marsillius of Padua's magnificent work, Defensor Pacis, he states: 

Every realm must desire tranquility, under which peoples prosper and the profit of the nations is safeguarded. For she is the seemly mother of good arts. She it is who, multiplying the human race in unending succession, extends its resources and refines its manners. And if a man is perceived not to have sought her, he is marked for ignorant of such great concerns…

In the first of his letters, in the passage just set down, Cassiodorus gave expression to the advantages and fruits of the tranquility or peace of civil regimes, in order that he might - by using these, as the best fruits, to explain the greatest of all human goods, viz. the sufficiency of this life, which none can achieve without peace and tranquility - inspire the wills of men to be at peace with each other, and hence tranquility. His pronouncement was in harmony with the view of the blessed Job, when he said in chapter 22: "be at peace: thereby the best fruits shall come unto Thee."

That was in 1328, it applies equally today.

Iridium, the Book

The book by Bloom on Iridium, Eccentric Orbits, is an amazing tale of persistence and corporate bumbling. This review is somewhat personal because I had direct contact with Motorola over this period and specifically with many of the principals noted. As to the author's characterization of many of those I knew personally, they were in my opinion "spot on".

My first dealing with Motorola was in the Fall of 1976. I was at Comsat and just finished the architecture for Intelsat V. I was asked to think about domestic mobile satellite communications. I got one helper, a summer employee, my first, and it was also her first job as well. Her name was Anne Holton, the daughter of the former Governor of Virginia, now the wife of the current Senator, also a former Governor. Thus Anne and I set out to design a system to provide domestic mobile service. Anne got the job of market research and her first task was get from the Virginian State Police their requirements and what we would need to get them as a customer. Note that we started with revenue first, real revenue, and as Bloom notes again and again that was not the Motorola way. Our competition was Marisat, the Comsat predecessor to Inmarsat. It was a satellite system for ships. We wanted it for cars. The system became MobSat, a horrible name but back then we thought it appropriate.

In the Fall of 1977 I took a trip to Schaumberg to meet some now forgotten Motorola VP to see if we could get them interested. I managed to spill my coffee all over his desk so I believe we were viewed as a bunch of bumblers. My main point was first a customer base and then a simple design. I also presented an Intersatellite link plan we had considered in Intelsat V, a microwave plan, because we had an MIT study that let us understand that lasers were just not yet up to it. We did not get any interest.

Then in 1985 I got a call from Bob Galvin's office. Please come out to Schaumberg. I went, and I did not know Galvin. I met him in his office and he said let's have lunch. Down we went to the cafeteria, me and the Chairman/CEO. He got a peanut butter sandwich and I was clueless as to what I should have. Here I was with Galvin and he wanted me to help him get into the service business. Why? Simply, Bob said, paraphrasing:

"We sell pagers, and for the revenue per pager, the paging company gets that every year. We sell cell phones, and for the revenue we get for a phone the cellular company gets that every year several fold. We have a data radio product, I would like you to see how we could be not just the manufacturer but the service company, so that we get to keep the recurring revenue."

My task, should I accept it was simple, use this product to see if Motorola could get itself in the service business. I had spent the last five years in Cable and was well versed on service businesses. But at Warner we made nothing, we had vendors.

I spent the next five months trying to see if Motorola could do this. It was my introduction to a mid-West manufacturing culture. I was assigned handlers, namely people to "help" me who reported back to the VPs who saw this as a threat. I started out to see if there was revenue. That I was told was not the Motorola way, I should focus on technology. I told them, "If all else fails, listen to the customer." So I went to find customers for mobile data. Three months of talking to customers, one on one, listening and asking questions to listen some more. What was clear was that what Motorola had could work but it was a technology in search of a market. The food chain necessary for its success was absent. Customers such as distributors needed software and what we now call "apps" to get this to be useful. Many saw the vision, but the steps to be filled in were considerable. I managed to complete the business plan but met with one Motorola obstacle after another. The "Comm Sector" sales team tried its best to intimidate me with their way of selling. You don't sell a service the way you sell a piece of hardware. Their problem fundamentally was how did they get paid? What was the commission plan? If they did not have a clear path to getting paid they had no interest.

The most important observation I made was when I went to Kraft. They were in the food distribution business. The had trucks, distributed food, took orders, and the like. A great target for the use of data; managing trucks, inventory and the like. I could see a rationale. I spend a half day with a manager there, nice person, willing to listen. At the end of the meeting he asked me; now just how do I use this? I told him that he just has to connect his software to the terminal. His response was; what software? Metaphorically I realized that there was a gap in the food chain. They made chees, managed factories, Motorola made data terminals and even networks. There was a massive gap in connecting the two. Whose job was that? I told Motorola that if they wanted to be in the service business then they had to provide a full end to end solution; thus the software was their problem. But Motorola did not do software. The sale force wanted to know why the customer could not get their own software. I decided not to pursue that discussion.
When having presented the plan and noting that perhaps it was both bit too early and that Motorola had a hardware culture not a service business culture I got a job offer. I was smart enough to politely turn it down.

Now in 1990 I took over as COO of the cellular company at NYNEX. One of my main tasks was to move to digital. Since I knew Irwin Jacobs from MIT, he was my Faculty Adviser, I naturally went to Qualcomm. I fought against the TDMA parties such as Southwest Bell and McCaw and managed to move CDMA up to the US option. I managed to get AT&T, subsequently Lucent, to move in that direction, but had a difficult time with Motorola. They somehow did not get it. I even went to Chris Galvin in Florida for a pitch.

Then when I went to do PCS, I used MIT Lincoln Labs as my technical support. Hearing of Iridium and knowing the principals, I thought what we knew at Lincoln, may be of help to Motorola. After all, Lincoln had built a few satellites and had demonstrated inter-satellite links as well and a few mobile terminals. The meeting was with the top folks at Motorola, just read Bloom, and we told them that perhaps they should consider taking some smaller steps, this was a massive jump with lots of uncertainties. We were politely escorted out. Never heard from them again.

Then in 1997 when I started my international fiber and IP company, I needed VOIP nodes and Motorola had one. At least that is what I thought. Actually they just OEMed one from a former colleague which I did not know about. But after a year they suggested investing, and somewhat foolishly I agreed. As usual the agreement required almost instantaneous repayment via hardware and system service contracts. The subsequent dealing with Motorola was filled with excruciating pain. I had investors over ten time zones and I continually had major issues with Motorola, a five-minute issue would take weeks! We finally sold the company in 2005, and the problem disappeared.

Overall my view of Motorola was simply:

1. A hardware manufacturer with a strong sales force and dominance in their classic markets.
2. A company which did not understand the service business.
3. A company where many managers dealt with issues by confrontation not by collaboration.
4. A company where getting customers first was not the way to do things. Selling a box, a technology, was the key. Get the customer to buy a box, not solve the customers problem and become an ongoing part of the solution. They did not understand IBM and the "service" culture.

Thus with almost thirty years of dealing with Motorola, they had some great technology folks, great political infighting skills, fantastic hardware sales, but it was a culture in my opinion of survival of the fittest, not necessarily pursuit of the best.

To preface my review of Bloom's book it is worthwhile to briefly lay out my experience in this area with satellites, mobile systems and Motorola. I had a thirty-year relationship with Motorola, as a joint venture partner, as a consultant to the Chairman, as a customer when COO of NYNEX Mobile now Verizon, and as the CEO of a company in which they had invested. The relationship allowed me to see most of the principals in the book first hand and further to see the company in a broad context. I also spent time in the satellite world, actually architecting one of the first mobile systems in the 70s. I also had a parallel experience to Colussy, albeit an order of magnitude smaller.

Thus I approach Bloom's book with a somewhat jaded experience set. I also approach it with a firsthand knowledge of the principals and moreover of the technical and business facts as I was exposed to. Bloom tells a fantastic story. I have no knowledge of his principal, his Odysseus, and his sailing through Scylla and Charybdis. But I can commiserate with him and his frustrations. I dealt with only 20 countries and an order of magnitude less in scale of the financing. But the trials and tribulations all ring true. It is told with a sense of being there and having to deal with the many characters thrown in the way. One wonders how anything gets accomplished given what the entrepreneur goes through in today's world. There are very few who set out and continue to the completion. Bloom takes the reader on that journey, and his inclusion of the steps are essential to appreciate the success.

Bloom presents a fast paced tale of the birth and near death of the Iridium satellite system. This is really a story of three "characters" First of Iridium, the satellite system developed by Motorola to provide global telecommunications coverage. Second, Motorola and its management and how they mis-managed the whole process. Third, it is about Colussy, the man who sought to revive Iridium just at its death's doorstep, and managed to working through the problems of financing, bankruptcy, Motorola, the US Government, and some 200 plus countries. The book then is the interplay of all three of these characters, animate and inanimate.

First, Colussy, ostensibly a successful businessman, in retirement, sees an opportunity in resurrecting Iridium just as Motorola is ready to push a self-destruct switch. Just what he sees is often problematic because each time he takes a hill, there are several more in front of him. But he manages to persevere. His interactions are all too familiar to any person who has tried to start a business, especially one spanning many countries and involving the US Government.

Second is the Iridium project. Here Bloom touches on some of the details but this is not a book for anyone who wants to understand Iridium. It is clear again and again that Bloom is not technical and that he does not want to venture down that path. However, understanding Iridium is essential to understanding the overall problem.

During the 1990s, mobile communications was expanding. It moved from analog in the late 80s to digital systems in the 90s with CDMA and TDMA in the US and GSM (a TDMA variant) throughout the world. With digital one had ever improving voice compression systems but the need to expand coverage was ever increasing. Cell sites had at best a 1-mile radius of coverage and that meant about 3 sq mi of coverage per site. The large cities were being covered at a rapid rate but major portions of the world had none. To achieve that would be very costly. Thus Motorola, and some others, came up with what could be called cell sites in the sky, lots of satellites. In addition to work properly they had to be low, to reduce the delay in the voice signal. Classic satellites like those of Intelsat were at 23,000 miles and the voice delay was about 0.25 sec, which was unacceptable. Thus Motorola came up with a constellation of dozens of small satellites that were close to the earth and allowed low power and minimal delay. However, they had to "hand-off" calls, like cell sites did on the earth, but to do so in space, thus using a complicate dynamic inter-satellite link. Then of course they needed bandwidth and agreements with 200 countries, no mean task.

Third, we have Motorola. This book is as much about Motorola as about anything. Motorola was a Chicago based company with a great record in radio communications for the public and government entities. They made boxes, transmitters, receivers, processing units. They sold boxes to customers who then did something with them. Mobile companies integrated then into cellular systems, paging companies integrated them into paging services, and police and fire departments integrated them into their operations. Thus Motorola was a manufacturer with great quality and a sales force that sold the boxes better than anyone else.

However, Motorola was not a service company. It was a product company. What is the difference between a product business and a service business? It is best characterized by the metaphorical statement: The dogs have to eat the dog food. Product business sells to the owner of the dog. Nice label, good price, great placement, fantastic advertising and promotion. The service business requires that the dog food be consumed, again and again. The dog does not care about the label, about the sales person. The dog sniffs it and eats it, or not. Service means that one must understand their end customer.

Iridium was to be a service company. The structure became Byzantine however, in an attempt for Motorola to still execute its role as a product company. Motorola just did not understand the service business. It thus created a monster in the way it structured Iridium, protecting its underlying product business construct.

Also Motorola management was often times blunt and aggressive. It grew up dealing with truckers, police departments, local governments, and never really dealt with customers. They knew how to "push" a sale through a difficult channel, and yet did not understand end user customers. The dogs at the end of the dog food.

Bloom lays out each of these elements on a step by step basis giving examples so that by the time the reader completes the book they all fall elegantly in place.

Now the problem was, as Bloom notes, Motorola had a brilliant team on the design of the system. The built off of the Star Wars technology of Brilliant Pebbles and related designs. What is clear from Bloom, but perhaps should have been more emphasized, is that no one seems to have thought of revenue or costs. Who was to buy this system and what price? The team never seems to have signed up users ahead of time, they relied on weak third party inferences that there were customers.

The second problem was that the system design, albeit elegant was very technically challenging and the overall system was complex. Bloom lays this out in detail.

The third problem was just time. It took longer but at the same time the world was changing. GSM penetration exploded, digital was pervasive, and the Internet was the stalking horse of the future. Voice was becoming a tertiary service at best. Data, namely Internet access, was becoming the critical element. I was at the time this was occurring switching from a IP voice business to a fiber Internet backbone system. The irony was that Motorola was one of my investors and they should have seen this happening as it did in literally a few months! Namely the world was changing under their plan.

Thus Bloom starts out with Chris Galvin commencing the deorbiting of about 80 satellites, namely allowing them to just drop from orbit and hopefully burn up before hitting anyone. Then the tale takes Colussy through the never ending impediments thrown in his path by Motorola, as Motorola itself is starting its own downward spiral, which will take a bit longer.

Bloom then takes Colussy from the near death of the system to his final snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. It reads superbly and should be viewed as how not to do something in the corporate world and how a real entrepreneur works.

Bloom on the other hand from time to time makes statements which do not necessarily reflect the facts. It seems clear he got them from somewhere but reality may have had an alternative.

On p67 Bloom makes the statement that Comsat was not interested in voice communications. Having done the architecture for Intelsat V at Comsat in 1975 I remember, and still have the documents, that were mostly voice. This is a typical statement I see again and again in Bloom and it detracts, and was unnecessary for his exposition.

On p69 he talks of inter-satellite links. Lincoln Lab had designed and launched several satellites for the Air Force, the LES series. I was at Lincoln before Comsat. I was in that Group and interfaces with DoD. When I did Intelsat V we looked at inter-satellite links and the design actually had them. It would be microwave because the problem of pointing a laser were too complex. In 1993 my colleagues from Lincoln and I met with the Motorola Iridium management to discuss these factors. It was then known that laser pointing still had a bit to advance.

On p 90 there is a discussion of the antenna. The Marisat satellites of the 70s had such antenna for the same reasons.

On p 111 there is a discussion of the Galvin discussions. Here as elsewhere the question keeps coming up; where is the revenue coming from. I recall one of the senior management saying they were targeting executives on elephant hunts in Kenya. I did not know any of these folks but somehow the source of revenue should have been a bit stronger than that.

On p 122 was the balloon discussion. I had seen at least a dozen balloon proposals over the years and I still see a few. Needless to say they never materialized for a variety of reasons, most obvious from just an operational perspective.

On p 150 the discussion of Motorola and the Russians is classic. I never had any problems with the Russians, but then I did not act so arrogantly.

On p 180 there is a discussion regarding the fact that the system was not interoperable with mobile and it had poor propagation characteristics inside buildings. By the late 90s GSM could work inside a beer house in Prague. Thus user expectations were changing. The system required a complex interoperability capacity and that just added costs and complexity.

On p 183 there is the discussion of the FBI and CALEA. Any telecom operator would know of CALEA, namely we had to have access for Government agencies using a CALEA warrant. This was something they should have known, especially given their government businesses. Also their cellular systems we often carrying more wiretaps than the fixed line businesses.

On p 198 is the most telling part. "How to get the million subscribers/" One would have thought they had this laid out before spending penny one, but alas this was classic if you had never been in the service business.

On p 330 it relates the crash of a Soviet satellite and the concern. The reason for concern was twofold. First the Russian made indestructible satellites. They just did not burn up. Second this satellite if I remember had a nuclear power source, I believe plutonium. It landed somewhere in western Canada. The concern was radiation as well as the indestructible Russian design.

Overall the book is superbly well organized and does a great job in presenting each of the characters. It also presents a near tragic tale of over management and under estimation. To recall my father's warning; prior planning prevents poor performance. My corollary was; always make sure there is a second exit.