Archive for the 'Coming to America' Category

Neue Deutsche Welle 2.0 (Da Da Da)

Sunday, February 4th, 2007

In case you’re roughly my age and from Germany (or for some odd reason ended up spending the ’80s there), you know what I mean: The Meebo Super Bowl XIL ad features one of Trio’s (the band) big hits.

I clearly remember when they would perform on the more traditional music shows on TV at the time (this was before the dawn of cable in Germany — all we had was three and a half friggin’ channels) and older folks would shake their heads (in what can best be described as a combination of both befuddlement and disgust) and go like: What’s that. That’s not music. He can’t even sing!

Imagine what you would have to do today to cause a scandal…

The benefits of bankruptcy

Saturday, January 27th, 2007

Robert Young at GigaOm: Bankruptcy: The Opportunity to Fail

A former mentor, and a very smart man, once told me that the greatest invention in this democracy and capitalist system we live in and know as the United States is, of all things, bankruptcy. Yep, bankruptcy… the opportunity to fail.


Simply put, we live in a country that encourages dreamers to take risks, and the laws protect those “entrepreneurs” from the potentially excessive consequences of failure. Bankruptcy laws enable risk-takers to protect themselves and start over. There is no other nation on this planet that by its very by-laws fosters such an economic environment. This spirit, the acceptance of failure, while counter-intuitive, is crucial to this country’s enormous success within the world economy.

Sure enough, a couple of folks from Germany weigh in (both are non-German):

Anne Koark says:

I am British and have been living in Germany for 21 years. In 2003 I went bankrupt with my company. Here failure is completely stigmatized. So much so that many entrepreneurs affected by failure are suicidal. …

Anon says:

… I’m also an ex-pat American living in Berlin, Germany. What this country largely lacks is the spark of originality and creativity coming from America’s entrepreneurs. As an American, you take all that for granted until you move away. Americans really have a knack for coming up with new ideas, and should be proud of this.

My fellow Germans: Unless we make it easy to fail, we won’t get anywhere.

Bridging the gap: USA Explained (USA Erklärt)

Saturday, January 27th, 2007

One of the finest blogs I have encountered over the past year (in German): USA Erklärt

Just earlier tonight, I was talking to a fellow SJSU econ student about the importance of “transatlantic translators” between Germany and the US (and vice versa) in order to overcome the pitfalls of commonly accepted stereotypes.

Anyway, Kansas’ or Kansas’s — who’s to judge who’s wrong or right here?

Colbert Report: The New AT&T

Friday, January 19th, 2007

Best show on television. Period.

Here’s another example why: The New AT&T

Oswald Bates: “The crux of my venereal infection…”

Friday, December 22nd, 2006

With Holiday Season around the corner, it’s that time of year again to brush up on US pop culture classics. Enjoy!

Web 2.0

Thursday, December 14th, 2006

Tim O’Reilly’s attempt at a compact definition of Web 2.0 (as opposed to his original article):

Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the internet as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform. Chief among those rules is this: Build applications that harness network effects to get better the more people use them. (This is what I’ve elsewhere called “harnessing collective intelligence.”)

I also like Bob Stumpel’s checklist:

This is a stupid simple link bank, referring to everything that just might be a symptom of Web 2.0. I’m not dogmatic. Any sign of:

  • Collective intelligence / wisdom of crowds
  • Collaboration / sharing
  • Reviewing / ranking / rating
  • Community / social software
  • Enabling / empowering users

is good enough for a listing.

Though I’m certain some people will still not be convinced that Web 2.0 is anything other than a marketing buzzword (and completely meaningless). Oh well…

As for me, I’m about ready to join the revolution. Let’s see what 2007 has in store.

Christmas Oratorio

Saturday, December 2nd, 2006

I went to hear Johann Sebastian Bach’s Christmas Oratorio (Weihnachtsoratorium) at First United Methodist Church in Palo Alto last night. The Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and the Philharmonia Chorale under Nicholas McGegan gave an outstanding performance.

I was totally unaware of this ensemble until now, and pleasantly surprised to find something as good here in the US (as opposed to Europe where there is a much larger scene for this type of music it seems).

Plus, they did all six cantatas — a real treat!

If you enjoy early music on period instruments (or Bach in particular), you still have a chance to catch one of their upcoming performances in Berkeley (tonight and tomorrow night), San Francisco (December 8) or Contra Costa (December 9).

Silicon Valley’s pheromones of invention

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006

Stowe says: Through the Eyes of Out-Of-Towners

There is a sensual element to the hothouse atmosphere of today’s Bay Area, an almost narcotic scent that invisibly infiltrates every party and reception, the pheromones of invention, that desire to create that’s almost a tug in the genitals. And of course, there is still the foundational lust — real lust — underneath it all, too.

The out-of-towners fly in, get drunk on this buzzy, fizzy, heady mix, and they never feel right when they return to Cody Wyoming or Australia; they can’t wash the mouthfeel of San Francisco out of their heads when they return to Berlin or Boston. It’s like a tattered postcard of hootchie dancers, smuggled home, kept under a sweaty pillow, and they can’t shake off the sense of missing something, something very hot, pressing and immediate, like getting caught in traffic en route to what you bet was going to be the best date of your life.

I admit I took a sip from the devil’s cup, too.

Borat — Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

Friday, November 3rd, 2006

I just got back from a free preview screening of Borat (IMDB).

Anyway, go see it. It’s refreshingly absurd.

Palo Alto cafes: no free wi-fi on weekends

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

So this past weekend I learned that both Coupa Cafe as well as Caffe del Doge on University do not offer free wi-fi on weekends. Anyone know why that is? I mean, it’s the only reason I stopped by on my way back from the city.