Remembering Danny Lam: Combating Conventional Wisdom


2018-02-18 By Robbin Laird

This week’s Wall Street Journal Saturday essay is on the crippling consensus which has descended on American campuses with the withering of relevant debate to shaping a way ahead for the liberal democracies.

In a world where universities think it is somehow acceptable to have safe areas where debate is prohibited, we have marked the demise of the university.

As Amy Wax wrote about her experience:

There is a lot of abstract talk these days on American college campuses about free speech and the values of free inquiry, with lip service paid to expansive notions of free expression and the marketplace of ideas.

What I’ve learned through my recent experience of writing a controversial op-ed is that most of this talk is not worth much.

It is only when people are confronted with speech they don’t like that we see whether these abstractions are real to them.

Normally, I would call Danny Lam and discuss this piece for Lam was a significant contributor to Second Line of Defense and the Second Line of Defense Forum and was in constant motion against the reigning conventional wisdom.

When we founded the website, we used the Patton quote: “If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.”

Clearly, Danny Lam thought and challenged conventional wisdom throughout his work and life.

Unfortunately, he was unable to prevail against the foe what we all face and succumb to, namely, our inevitable deaths.

His friend and colleague David Jimenez informed me earlier this week of the death of Danny Lam on February 11, 2018.

David kindly provides us with a biography of Danny, which we can share with our readers.

Dr. Danny Lam (BA, University of Waterloo; MBA, Richard Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario; MASc. Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Waterloo; Ph.D., Carleton University) was a noted semiconductor analyst who studied and worked  with semiconductor startup programs on three continents over four decades.

He was recently a Research Associate at the Waterloo  Institute for Sustainable Energy (WISE) at the University of Waterloo  where he completed a dissertation on “Defense Energy Systems for the  21st Century” in 2014.

His four decades in microelectronics and  technology included stints in industry and academe.

Dr. Lam’s  research and analysis has appeared on CNBC, the Wall Street Journal,
and the Handbook of Technology Management (McGraw Hill, 1996) and  numerous technical publications.
Dr. Danny Lam

Dr. Lam was a major resource for IBM and Infineon in their multiple  negotiations on the sale of Altis Semiconductor. Dr. Lam’s work  defined the market for Altis’ products and the technology transfer  roadmap, which supported the price negotiations.

Dr. Danny Lam was a long time client, supporter, and affiliate of Wright Williams & Kelly, Inc. He began his affiliation with WWK in the 1990’s when he was a professor at Auburn University studying quantitative methods for site selection.  He later founded The Fairview Group, a market research firm focused on consumer electronics purchasing patterns. During that time, he was granted a J-visa by the Peoples Republic of China; a rare privilege normally only granted to large journalism organizations like Reuters and the Associated Press.

In 2003, Dr. Lam was an original investor in a management-led buy out of WWK from CH2M Hill Companies Ltd.  From that point on Dr. Lam was an integral part of the WWK consulting practice with a focus on semiconductor markets, mergers & acquisitions, and defense & aerospace.  His research and insights were published in, Asia Times, The Conversation, Second Line of Defense, and Aviation Week.

We thank David for this biographical information.

The Second Line of Defense team and readers knew Danny through his keen insights and challenging thinking.

And it is in that light that I have received several emails already from core team members, which underscore his contribution, but this one summarized the general feeling of the team:

“Very sorry to of Danny Lam’s unexpected death…I always found his contributions amazingly insightful…”

The breadth of his work was refreshing as well.

The last piece he wrote for us which we just published this week, after news of his death, focuses on redesign of defense systems.

He believed that President Trump represented an important turning point in the way ahead for the liberal democracies, and wrote several pieces on this theme, the most recent one being:

He provided regular analysis of the evolving North Korean crisis and underscored in very clear ways why this was not a nuclear crisis of the Cold War period, but clearly within the paradigm of the Second Nuclear Age, e.g.:

His work on the PRC was significant in highlighting the regional dynamics within China and their potential significance for policy making, and we built a special report around his work:

I could go on but unfortunately Danny is not.

We would like to honor his memory by naming the op ed section of our forthcoming new website “Danny’s Corner.”

In some sense, the spirit of Danny will live on.

As one of core team put it in an email to me upon hearing the news:

“I am sorry to hear about Danny.

“He was a refreshing and thoughtful voice in todays mainstream nonsense.”