David Kirkpatrick

August 9, 2010

SEC knocking at the door? Cooperate

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:18 am

Well, unless you’re certain you’ll be found innocent of any charges the SEC is bringing to bear. If you’re eventually going to get nailed, cooperating will garner a lower penalty.

From the link:

A new study finds that it may pay — at least in dollar terms — to help the SEC by sharing results of internal investigations and keeping the public informed when something has gone awry. Rebecca Files, an accounting professor at the University of Texas at Dallas, claims that while cooperating with the SEC increases a company’s likelihood of getting sanctioned, being both cooperative and forthcoming in information shared with investors can result in lower penalties. “It’s just like going to the cops and turning yourself in,” she says. “You’ll still have to pay some cost for your actions, but the penalty will be significantly reduced.”

Files based her findings on a study of 1,249 restatements made between 1997 and 2005, 10% of which resulted in a sanction against the company or its managers. She drew her conclusions on how forthcoming companies were about their problems in press releases and 8-Ks, as well as how quickly they came forward after a problematic reporting period. Since the SEC’s dealings with these companies occur behind closed doors, she could not know how fully cooperative they were in any investigation.

July 31, 2009

PR Newswire’s Blog Briefs Lead

Filed under: Media, Technology — Tags: , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:40 pm

Selected press releases from both BusinessWire and PR Newswire are delivered to my inbox on a daily basis (as regular readers probably know and might lament) and today something new from PR Newswire came in this afternoon  – the “Bog Briefs Lead.”

I’ll let the release do it’s own horn-tooting, but I have to wonder what’s the utility of seven leads to blog posts without links to the posts themselves? Maybe this release went out incomplete by mistake.

At any rate, here’s the release:

Blog Briefs Lead

The following Blog Briefs roster is a weekly roundup of posts from selected blogs. Blog Briefs are archived and available on the PR Newswire Web site, http://www.prnewswire.com/.  
  The following are the Blog Briefs for the week ending July 31:

  Blog Briefs

  1. Queercents: Penny-Pinching Pregnancy – Saying No to Expensive Tests
  2. Waylon Lewis of elephantjournal.com: Urban Outfitters Sells Fixies; and
     Frat Houses Go Solar
  3. Sunday Morning Soliloquy: Blogher ’09 Through the Eyes of an Un-Mommy
     Blogger
  4. synthesis – We Must Spend Less on Education – Necessity and Invention
  5. BANDIT Lets the Air out of Formula 1′s Tyres
  6. FoodieMama.com on Alternatives to French Fries

  7. Credit Union Uses ‘Lottery Effect’ to Encourage Customers to Save Money

  /PRNewswire — July 31/

Source: PR Newswire
   
Web Site:  http://www.prnewswire.com/

February 21, 2009

News from the American Naturalist

A fun group of article summaries from the American Naturalist:

Honest crabs, power to the hungry, nice mice and clever meerkats: News from the American Naturalist

HOW OFTEN DO ANIMALS LIE ABOUT THEIR INTENTIONS?

An article by Princeton Biologist Mark Laidre suggests that when an animal signals an intent to attack, chances are it’s not bluffing. Using hermit crabs as subjects, Laidre tested previous mathematical models that predict animals have a significant incentive to give dishonest signals about their intentions. Some models suggest that animals may lie about their intentions up to 40 percent of the time. Laidre used dummy hermit crabs to invade the personal space of live crabs. Contrary to the models, the crabs nearly always backed up their threats with an attack. Those that didn’t signal a threat nearly always fled. The findings, Lairde says, suggest that animals don’t lie about their actions nearly as much as theorists once predicted.

Mark E. Laidre, “How Often Do Animals Lie About Their Intentions? An Experimental Test,” 173:March.

POWER TO THE HUNGRY: HOW THE NEEDIEST CAN LEAD LARGE GROUPS

Flocks of birds, swarms of insects and herds of ungulates don’t need to take a vote to choose their leaders. According to research led by Larissa Conradt (University of Sussex), leaders in large animal groups can emerge automatically. Conradt and her colleagues created a theoretical model that simulates the movements of a large group in which members have conflicting plans about where they’d like to go. The simulation showed that individuals who valued their preferred destination over group cohesion often led the group—even if they were in the minority. Those who were less concerned about the destination went along for ride just to stay with the group. “As a consequence,” Conradt says, “large groups are often automatically led by those members that are most desperate to reach a particular destination, or are most indifferent as to whether or not the group breaks up.” There’s some empirical evidence to back up the model. Studies have shown that food deprived fish move to the front of shoals, presumably to steer the group toward food.

L. Conrad, J. Krause, I. D. Couzin, and T. J. Roper, “‘Leading According to Need’ in Self-Organizing Groups,” 173:March

GENTLE GIANTS WOO MORE LADIES (IN MICE, ANYWAY)

Sometimes the nice guy gets the girls. At least that’s how it is for striped mice. A research team led by Carsten Schradin (University of Zurich and University of the Witwatersrand) studied the breeding strategies of striped mice in South Africa. They found that dominant males who controlled breeding groups had lower testosterone levels than subdominant males. “What is unusual about this society is that the dominant males are in fact the most sociable, often grooming other group members,” Schradin says. “It is the smaller and solitary living males, which roam from one group to another, that have the highest testosterone levels.” The roaming males try to coerce females to mate, which, as one might imagine, is less successful than establishing a breeding group.

Carsten Schradin, Michael Scantlebury, Neville Pillay, and Barbara König, “Testosterone levels in dominant sociable males are lower than in solitary roamers: physiological differences between three male reproductive tactics in a sociably flexible mammal,” 173:March

MEERKATS AND THE EVOLUTION OF SPECIALIZED ALARM CALLS

Meerkats’ cooperative social structure may have led them to evolve a specialized system of alarm calls, according to an article by Roman Furrer and Marta Manser from the University of Zurich. Meerkats have the ability to vary their alarm calls depending on what type of predator threatens them. In other words, they use one call when threatened from the air by an eagle, and a different call when threatened from the ground by a snake. But Cape ground squirrels, that live side-by-side in the same habitat as meerkats, have not evolved this type of alarm call. So why would such calls evolve on one species and not the other when both live in the same area? Furrer and Manser suggest it has to do with social structure. Meerkats are highly social creatures. They coordinate their foraging activities as well as their escape plans. So knowing what predator is approaching helps in coordination. The ground squirrels, on the other hand, act largely independent of each other and may have less need for specified alarm calls.

Roman D. Furrer and Marta B. Manser, “The evolution of urgency-based and functionally referential alarm calls in ground-dwelling species,” 173:March.

 

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December 9, 2008

Blago post number two

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 6:08 pm

The first one is here. I just wanted to get some raw content from the official arrest release.

From the second link:

CHICAGO – Illinois Gov.

Rod R. Blagojevich and his Chief of Staff, John Harris, were arrested today by FBI agents on federal corruption charges alleging that they and others are engaging in ongoing criminal activity: conspiring to obtain personal financial benefits for Blagojevich by leveraging his sole authority to appoint a United States Senator; threatening to withhold substantial state assistance to the Tribune Company in connection with the sale of Wrigley Field to induce the firing of Chicago Tribune editorial board members sharply critical of Blagojevich; and to obtain campaign contributions in exchange for official actions – both historically and now in a push before a new state ethics law takes effect January 1, 2009.

And here’s a little laundry list from page two of the twelve page PDF:

A 76-page FBI affidavit alleges that Blagojevich was intercepted on court-authorized wiretaps during the last month conspiring to sell or trade Illinois’ U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama for financial and other personal benefits for himself and his wife. At various times, in exchange for the Senate appointment, Blagojevich discussed obtaining:

 

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a substantial salary for himself at a either a non-profit foundation or an organization affiliated with labor unions;

 

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placing his wife on paid corporate boards where he speculated she might garner as much as $150,000 a year;

 

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promises of campaign funds – including cash up front; and

 

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a cabinet post or ambassadorship for himself.

 

Everyone is commenting it’s a slow news day so Blago’s really getting it, but man, it’s deserved.

December 8, 2008

The financial crisis and math

Yep, it’s a release dump day. For any regular reader who wonders why I’ll post a press release, sometimes without any real additional commentary — you’d be amazed at how much “reporting” at news websites and even print news outlets are nothing more than reworked press releases, often without any new information added.

Years ago when I did daily reporting for LocalBusiness.com as a freelancer I did nothing more than get a release from my editor, try and get an interview with a principal at the company putting the release out there and writing a story within a couple of hours at most.

If I couldn’t secure an interview I’d do the story purely off the release with maybe some info pulled from the company’s website for filler. Rough estimate would be 70% of my stories done for LocalBiz were of this variety.

This is why I present my blog readers unadulterated releases. I give you the entire story as presented by the source. Sure it’s been spun up by the PR writer, but you get the whole picture without me trying to un-spin anything or maybe leaving something out that you’d really enjoy.

With that in mind, here’s a release on this year’s ongoing financial crisis from the mathmatical perspective. Not sure if I totally agree with the first sentence there.

The release:

The crash of 2008: A mathematician’s view

Markets need regulation to stay stable. We have had thirty years of financial deregulation. Now we are seeing chickens coming home to roost. This is the key argument of Professor Nick Bingham, a mathematician at Imperial College London, in an article published today in Significance, the magazine of the Royal Statistical Society.

There is no such thing as laying off risk if no one is able to insure it. Big new risks were taken in extending mortgages to far more people than could handle them, in the search for new markets and new profits. Attempts to insure these by securitisation – aptly described in this case as putting good and bad risks into a blender and selling off the results to whoever would buy them – gave us toxic debt, in vast quantities.

“Once the scale of the problem was unmistakably clear from corporate failure of big names in the financial world, banks stopped lending to each other,” says Bingham. “They couldn’t quantify their own exposure to toxic debt – much of it off balance sheet – so couldn’t trust other banks to be able to quantify theirs. This led to a collapse of confidence, and the credit crunch, which turned a problem in the specialised world of exotic financial derivatives into a crisis in the real world. Once the problem became systemic, government had to step in to bail the system out with vast quantities of public money.”

Professor Bingham suggests that to learn more and predict financial future, we should look to our past, likening the current crisis to the ‘Tulip Mania’ in the Netherlands in 1636 where huge prices were paid for futures in tulips, which then turned out to be as worthless as sub-prime mortgages today.

Even Alan Greenspan, the long-serving former chairman of the US Federal Reserve, admits that mistakes were made in the past. To avoid repeating these mistakes, we need to learn from them. This needs a new mind-set, new policies, and much more proactive regulation.

Bankers complain that the risk models they used predicted problems as dramatic as today’s only every few centuries. “This is like talking about the details of how to steer a boat on a river,” says Bingham, “what matters there is whether or not the river is going to go over a waterfall, like the Niagara Falls.”

 

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November 13, 2008

Nanoparticles in the home

No, not nanotech, just nanoscale particles released by household devices.

The release:

Nanoparticles in the home: More and smaller than previously detected

Extremely small nanoscale particles are released by common kitchen appliances in abundant amounts, greatly outnumbering the previously detected, larger-size nanoparticles emitted by these appliances, according to new findings* by researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). So-called “ultrafine particles” (UFP) range in size from 2 to 10 nanometers. They are emitted by motor vehicles and a variety of indoor sources and have attracted attention because of increasing evidence that they can cause respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses.

NIST researchers conducted a series of 150 experiments using gas and electric stoves and electric toaster ovens to determine their impacts on indoor levels of nano-sized particles. Previous studies have been limited to measuring particles with diameters greater than 10 nm, but new technology used in these experiments allowed researchers to measure down to 2 nm particles—approximately 10 times the size of a large atom.

This previously unexplored range of 2 to 10 nm contributed more than 90 percent of all the particles produced by the electric and gas stovetop burners/coils. The gas and electric ovens and the toaster oven produced most of their UFP in the 10 nm to 30 nm range.

The results of this test should affect future studies of human exposure to particulates and associated health effects, particularly since personal exposure to these indoor UFP sources can often exceed exposure to the outdoor UFP.

Researchers will continue to explore the production of UFP by indoor sources. Many common small appliances such as hair dryers, steam irons and electric power tools include heating elements or motors that may produce UFP. People often use these small appliances at close range for relatively long times, so exposure could be large even if the emissions are low.

The experiments were conducted in a three-bedroom test house at NIST that is equipped to measure ventilation rates, environmental conditions and contaminant concentrations.

 

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* L. Wallace, F. Wang, C. Howard-Reed and A. Persily. Contribution of gas and electric stoves to residential ultrafine particle concentrations between 2 and 64 nm: Size distributions and emission and coagulation rates. Environmental Science and Technology, DOI 10.1021/es801402v, published online Oct. 30, 2008.

November 5, 2008

Last night’s election and sustainable energy

Filed under: Media, Politics, Science — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:28 am

This release came out today — hit my inbox about six minutes ago. I think someone got one of those robocalls one the election being pushed back to today. Otherwise, why?

Day late and a dollar short …

Election 2008: What Does the Future Hold for Sustainable Energy

  What are the energy and environmental implications of the presidential
                                election?

  Issue:                  Regardless the outcome of the presidential
                          election the impact on the future of renewable
                          energy is inevitable.

  What’s at stake:        America’s dependence on foreign oil and
                          sustainable energy sources such as hydro, wind and
                          solar.

  Obama’s platform:       *Require 10 percent of electricity come from
                           renewable sources by 2012
                          *Set national building efficiency goals
                          *Reduce federal energy consumption
                          *Invest in a Smart Grid
                          *Build more livable and sustainable communities
                          *Cap-and-trade auctions that require companies pay
                           for carbon emissions

  McCain’s platform:      *Lower corporate tax rate to foster renewable
                           energy
                          *Make greening the federal government a top
                           priority
                          *Tax credits for homeowners who utilize wind,
                           hydro and solar power
                          *Become more energy independent as a nation
                          *Invest in a SmartGrid and SmartMeter technologies
                          *Cap-and-trade auctions that allow companies free
                           access to carbon permits

  
    About Standard Renewable Energy

Founded in 2006, Standard Renewable Energy is a premier provider of energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions for homes and businesses. Operations include energy audits, high-efficiency heating and cooling products and services, spray-foam insulation, solar window film, solar photovoltaic (PV) energy systems, solar thermal water heating systems, wind energy systems and more. For further information visit their website at http://www.sre3.com.

PRNewswire — Nov. 5

Source: Standard Renewable Energy

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