SuperCritical Press

SuperCritical Technologies receives some memorable press today…

“It’s hard when you work down the hall from Dr. Myhrvold and you just hear him laugh. He’s got a very jolly laugh. I don’t think he’s a guy who gets up in the morning and says, ‘Who can I crush today?’” said Max Effgen, the chief information officer of a small Seattle startup called SuperCritical Technologies. Effgen and his co-founders worked at IV and some in the group worked at mini-nuclear-reactor firm TerraPower before they formed SuperCritical.

Effgen said his experience at IV helped him understand how intellectual property works, and helped him prepare SuperCritical, which makes a very small, highly efficient energy generation system that the company hopes will compete with the largest energy companies and eventually be licensed by them.

“We’re going into the energy sector, which is dominated by very large corporations,” Effgen said. “We learned a ton (at IV) about protecting ourselves.”

 

Read the full article here: PSBJ Kymeta sheds new light… by Emily Parkhurst

WSJ: Arthur Laffer: Tax Internet Sales, Stimulate Growth

Comment on Dr. Laffer’s recent Wall Street Journal opinion piece on taxing internet sales.

Sales taxes are legally due for in-state transactions. The online retailer (e.g., Amazon, etc.) does not have the obligation to collect these taxes due to the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA), enacted in 1998 and extended in 2001, 2004 and 2007 and remains in force until 2014, as well as legal precedence from the 1992 Supreme Court case Quill Corp. v. North Dakota. It should be no surprise that these legally due taxes are not willingly paid when state’s lack enforcement for sales taxes. Generally sales taxes on the Internet are not collected by any online retailer unless a company has a physical presence in the state.

Concurrently, the Great Recession has left many states with balanced budget amendments reeling. Sales taxes make up to one-third of most state budgets. A convergence of government and competitive pressures are being forced against online retailers are being played out in a very public fashion through the media and public referendum.

Amazingly, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Home Depot and Target have been actively funding interest groups, such as Alliance for Main Street Fairness, that often target large brick-and-mortar retailers as well as backing state legislative efforts across the country to attack what they say are online retailers (e.g., Amazon’s) unfair competitive advantage. States are looking for additional sources of revenue without the political burden of raising taxes in a down economy.

I agree with Dr. Laffer’s assertion that collection of sales taxes can reduce the need for income taxes. With willing accomplices from major retailers pursuing policy as a competitive pressure, I doubt states’ willingness to make that reality.

Review of Change Up: An Oral History of 8 Key Events That Shaped Baseball

With Spring Training starting, thoughts turn to the National Pastime. I recently read Change Up. Generally it is excellent. The format of interviews with key people was quite engaging and through the first 6 changes. It was truly engaging. The last 2, Cal Ripken’s Streak and Ichiro Comes to America, were disappointing. On the Streak, there was too much build up about Cal Sr and Cal Jr’s rise to the big leagues. The Ripken’s are baseball royalty because of the same core values shared by father and son. Each took those to the park every day and gave to the game they loved. The interviews did not fully capture the essence and meaning of the streak well. On Ichiro, and I am an Mariners and Ichiro fan, it overlooks a lot about that amazing season and that Ichiro was the right player at the right time. The Mariners had lost superstars Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez in the previous season respectively. The team was solid but needed a catalyst. 116 wins tied a major league record and they blew away the AL that season. They had 7 All-Stars. There was little mention of the contention around the Rookie of the Year or even the MVP vote in spite of his batting title that season. Personally, I will remember the amazing defense, the 10 seasons of 200+ hits and hordes of Japanese fans filling Safeco in right field’s “Area 51” near my season’s tickets.

Change Up is solid ground rule double, just shy of a home run.

The Baseball Collection

The last few posts have featured autographed baseballs. The collection is substantial. Here is how it began.

I was 9 years old. My dad and I were watching the Game of the Week. I was also sorting my baseball cards. I do not recall all the game’s details, but the Dodgers were playing Vin Scully and Joe Garagiola were calling the game. I always loved how Garagiola, the old catcher, would say “hard slider.”

“Wouldn’t it be cool to have a baseball card autographed?” I asked my dad holding up a Steve Garvey, who happened to be batting.

“A card? That would be cool. But why would you want Steve Garvey?” he asked. Dad was never a Garvey fan. At the time both hometown teams, the Cubs and White Sox, were terrible. Dad, from Boston, was Red Sox Nation, before the term ever existed. “Why not a baseball?” he asked.

Now, dad was, is and forever shall be a huge baseball fan. He also loved the history of the game. At that moment, there was inspiration and a way to teach his son about the history of our great game. Autographed baseball’s from Hall of Fame players, the best of the best. I would research the players and we would get their autographs. This was just at the beginning of the memorabilia boom in the early 1980’s. We would put a package together with a letter, a baseball and return postage. My dad would hunt down the players addresses. I would research the players. We put together a trial run of 10 baseballs and sure enough all 10 came back. Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle were in the first group. Over the next 2-3 years, all 70 living Hall of Famers at the time had returned a baseball. James “Cool Papa” Bell, Stan Musial, Hank Arron, Monte Irvin, Joe DiMaggio, Willie Mays, you name’em.

Since then we have added to the collection as new players are inducted and other balls from games and times that are important to dad and me. As I look back, I have always been touched by this return letter from Joe Sewell, who played with Cleveland Indians and the New York Yankees and a lifetime .312 hitter. He is most famous for being the hardest to strike out which only happened 114 times in 7,132 at bats over 14 years. For perspective, 2012 AL Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera strike out 98 times last season alone. For me, it is a great reminder of how this game unites our present with our past and deep down everyone wants to be remembered.

Joe Sewell autographed letter from the collection

If you are going to Istanbul and need a rug guy…

blue mosque, sunrise

A friend of mine will soon be traveling to Istanbul. The mention of travel immediately took me back to my visit there now over a decade ago. Amazing city. The sights, the smells, the history. I developed an appreciation for oriental carpets during an earlier trip to Morocco. I ended up with 6. That’s another story. In Istanbul, I was traveling with a buddy and he was interested in a small carpet. We looked around over town. Nothing worked for him and the salesmen were on the pushy side. Later that day we found Harem Carpets in Arasta Bazaar. We chatted with Mustafa, one of the owners, for a bit and made an appointment to return the following morning.

Great experience and beautiful pieces. They take a tremendous amount of pride knowing the history and origin of each piece. If you are in Istanbul check out Harem Carpets.