Monday, September 29, 2008

Why I am Against the Bail Out

At first I thought a bailout would resemble socialism. Now I think it would more closely resemble a wealth grab in an economic dictatorship.

The market leading managers and CEO's abandoned the basic rules of economics by obscuring worthlessness with complexity and then tried to abdicate all responsibility for their exploitation. They want to siphon off wealth with reckless disregard for their fellow citizens and then want tax payers to be burdened with their golden parachutes, bad debts and recapitalization of their banks and "investment/ financial institutions".

Lincoln looks angry!


Capitalism is not a dictatorship where wealthy people may irresponsibly give loans to people who can't afford them then sell those loans as commodities as if they are guaranteed valuable assets then expect everyone to reward them for their failure.

In Capitalism, when people fuck up they should fail.


If the average citizen messes up and gets fired, they walk away with no severance pay, no help, no bail out or promises. Not even a silk parachute, or some kneepads.

Many of these failures are of the Enron "Criminal" variety and will result in jail time. I think such prosecution should also result in the seizure and sale of the assets of these criminals. Where is your retirement? It's in some 24 million dollar Florida mansion to which some CEO will happily resort when his 2 year sentence is commuted to 6 months for time served and "good behavior".

Or worse, it's over seas where you will never see it again.

Will the IRS put a lien on that CEO's mansion for the taxes you owe, that you spent to heat your house while you were unemployed? No! They will come to YOU for that, as if the failure of your employers company was down to your job skills or behavior.

Lots of work isn't worth what people are paid. Alan H. Fishman of Washington mutual did not contribute enough to the society by holding the wheel of a sinking ship for 3 weeks to earn $11 Million dollars in a "Golden Parachute". Fuck that! You fail, you get fired. Learn something, move on. Hopefully some other CEO didn't rape your 401k for his beach house.

Maybe a better society is possible, one not based on greed and destroying wealth and resources for one's own over-consumption. I don't think any of the communist dictatorships of the world got it right either.

Though sometimes, a more socially aware society seems like a better way. If you sew and reap you may eat. If you cannot reap but you can make something someone needs, or serve them in some way they need, you may be compensated to a reasonable proportion with food and shelter. If you are too helpless to contribute, your basic needs will be provided.

Capitalism is sometimes so cruel and ignorant to the plight of humanity occupying a 7,926 mile diameter space ship (Earth) with limited resources. It's not all about one person having every luxury. It's about the survival of us all (arguments against over-breeding in another posting).

The wealth of the planet belongs to all! This system of veiled theft is bad enough. We are already on the hook for 500 billion or more in bailout money for the banks and mortgage firms we plan to save. The 700 billion on top of it would just reward the crass, corrupt wealth sucking machine on Wall Street for failure. It would represent the largest imaginable burglary of tax payer, citizen wealth to private already corruptly wealthy banks, managers and CEO's.

CEO pay is justified by returns, so it actually rewards exploitation and law-breaking if the increase is good

What they couldn't get by gouging my 401k they'll get from the investment IRA I rolled it into, beautiful!

Wasn't most of America's wealth already confined to a small percentage at the top before this crisis? What do they want now, the rest?

Where will it come from?

You and I will be working our asses off without reward for years to pay these bastards even more money from the taxes on our labors. If you ask me, It's a goddamn coup de ├ętats and we just became serfs, to one degree or another.

=sw

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Broken IT Culture that is Doomed to Fail

I predict that the concept of disabling the usefulness of a computer by not allowing users to install software will become a failed IT policy.

The policy was born of Microsoft Windows security deficiencies. Instead of demanding a properly developed and secured operating system, IT managers simply find it easier to essentially disable and handicap Windows users to help resist virus vulnerability and security flaws that are built into Windows by poor design.

The qualifier is that no machine is invulnerable, but you don't put a horse down before it gets sick. Disallowing installation of software crimps off the innovation and flexibility blood supply of the user and I will show, could even lead to physical injury.

Based on many real world scenarios that have come to my attention, here is short story:

Carla wants a portable computer. It would give her new capabilities as a field rep for her company like being able to access office documents and spreadsheets, maps, contracts, pdf field manuals and up-to-date weather info etc. Also very important to her well being, it would allow her some personal access to music, email, instant messaging and entertainment sources while she is on the road. She has not been issued a computer to do her job, but having access to one would make her more capable and efficient. She plans to buy her own laptop, but mentions her plan to her boss.

The Boss promptly sees the benefit of her vision and assures her he would gladly supply the laptop.

One morning she heads into the main office and voila, there it is:



A new laptop with Windows XP installed!! Woohoo! (because Vista is completely useless, but passes the "really pretty" test, sure)

[*Note: For the purpose of my blog I photographed a Dell running Debian/ Gnome because I don't have any crappy Windows machines in my life to even take a picture of.]

Aside: The new Vista commercials should be more realistic..."WOW"..at first then "WTF...???" and "SHIT!"...soon after.


Now she can fulfill her vision of having the benefits she sought. So she immediately seeks to install some widget software to get weather, Google Earth for her work real estate and mapping needs, Apple's iTunes for her iPod and store account to get her favorite music, movies and TV shows etc. She also likes to download her favorite I/M clients and OTR encryption tools (for security!).

Well, she can't install any of that, and the IT (idiotic trance) department is too mortified by Windows' reputed bad security and vulnerability to malware to give her the magic "Admin access" (which on any other machine is "regular user trying to do ANYTHING useful with a computer" access).

What can she do? Of course she could drag around 2 laptops, one for work and one for herself!






That's only 10-20 pounds of machine, carrying case and accessories. She could actually physically injure herself carrying two computers around. It's a ridiculous notion.

No way! That is not a solution!!


Oh I know, she will drive all the way to the home office every single time she even wants to evaluate any new software (or even run an update script for her third-party apps) and plead with a dense Microsoftie IT manager to please just allow her to do her job and have what she needs on the road.



All that driving back for every stupid thing makes Windows machines bad for global warming. Never mind the cost to the environment of the manufacture of a useless device. Now we need 2 machines made for each person because of inherent software flaws and the obtuse policies used to work around them!?

Forget it!

What will she do instead? Buy ONE machine that does everything she could possibly need including run Office software and if absolutely needed, emulate that one stupid app made only for Windows by idiots. And she will have a machine she can actually use, upon which she can install anything and not fear a highly unlikely virus and it will meet all her business and personal requirements with ease. Then she'll only need to carry around just that one lightweight brilliant computer:



The idea that effectively disabling a computer from being used is a "good security model" will utterly fail. This will benefit Apple or Linux or any other platform with a clue. Withholding Administrator Access from a user on their own machine is a failed IT policy which is a blatant direct descendant of Microsoft software flaws. It is a losing proposition in the long run, where better computers with superior operating systems are clearly a preferable option.

=sw

Monday, September 22, 2008

Tons of Travel

I have been a lot of places lately. Here is my USA map:



The cyan states are places I have been before. The orange-ish states are those I have been to this year. We are talking feet on the ground, I don't count airplane fly-over.

I have traveled a good 6000 miles, even more if I did count flights.

There are clearly some road trips yet to do. I want to visit Florida, New England...Minnesota and the Dakotas.

I need to do an Elizabeth Town type road trip to Tennessee, Arkansas and Oklahoma. While I may not get to all the States this year, I could get pretty close.

What exactly does one see in North Dakota!?

=sw

Pandora

I really enjoy Pandora, the internet streaming music service that works like a radio station keyed to a single or group of seed artists to shape a program of songs in the user's preferred style.

It's pretty damn good and works rather well. It even digs into beloved album tracks you'd think would never get noticed. And the streaming is smart, pre-loading songs as much as possible to prevent mid-stream hiccups.

While Pandora is in stereo on broadband, it does run in Mono on the iPhone. However, that may be necessary to fly below the 115kpbs Edge network limits. 128kps or 160kbps mp3's in stereo won't fit, so 64kbps or 80kbps mono mp3's are used...see 160 > 115 while 80 < 115 so mono streaming works well generally, depending on Edge signal quality.



I tried going for a 4 mile walk the other night with Pandora playing on my iPhone (using the dedicated Pandora app). Walking around with Pandora on the iPhone is a surreal and wholly modern experience.

Walking around with Pandora on the iPhone is a surreal and wholly modern experience.


I realized I could not watch any marketing messages they might deliver while the iPhone was in my pocket.

I think Pandora offers a paid service, though to support the free service I could stand a 20-30 second audio ad every 3 songs or so. I think Pandora is a great evolution from traditional radio, though its very nature creates enormous licensing costs.

While Radio can pay one ASCAP fee for broadcasting a song to millions, Pandora is probably stuck with a fee per stream per user. There should be some middle ground license to allow Pandora's brilliant service to be more viable.

I get into Pandora, and who knew how much 80's hair band music made into my memory when I was a teenager. I can kind of tolerate it now, amazingly.

=sw

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Captive Marketing

In Las Vegas flying US Airways I discovered that I would be hit up with credit card marketing from the gate to the plane.



When you pay an airline more than you would pay for a 4 star hotel room, then pay them extra for baggage and they still have to hit you up for a coke and market credit cards to you...you know they were not managed properly.

They all want to be listed first on the travel web sites as the cheapest. Though, you quickly learn, that despite having paid hundreds to be canned up and exposed to irradiating microwave radiation from space, you still can't get even a 1/2 can of soda if you didn't bring cash!!!

Baggage, drinks and good service should be included. Just show us the real prices for fuel and proper service!!! I predict US Airways is going to be gone or fail, if it hasn't done so already. It's a ridiculous flying experience. Maybe Delta will fix them.

From now on, Southwest and Delta have provided a good experience for me. I hear Virgin America and Continental are good options for being treated well for your investment in travel.

Marketing to me while I am confined to an airplane is so over and gone.

=sw

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Things I hate about...

my iPhone:
Why can't my iPhone do picture messaging? Whatever political reason they have not to support it, it is not worth it.

What I get is a "viewmymessage.com" link with a cryptic, awful, impossible to memorize username and password. THEN, the viewmymessage site sometimes doesn't even work on the edge network!

What AT&T need to do is program the authentication info into the link they send me so I can tap and view the multimedia message immediately!


What is all this anyway? The iPhone should be the definition of multi-media mobile life. If picture messaging is not supported, the least they can do is make it easy to access in Safari!

I think AT&T and Apple need to get their show together. All the nice features of the iphone can easily get forgotten when something so obviously flawed and so regularly irritating happens. I am a hardcore Apple fan and I miss my Motorola Razor sometimes. It could shoot video, send and receive picture messages...and I could hack it to play any mp3 as a ring tone!

I want on my iPhone:
* Any ringtone from any mp3!!!
* Picture messaging!!!
* The ability to shoot video!!!


As it stands, these features are represented by a symbolically blank screen:


My iPhone is a computing device I have purchased. I want to be able to use it how ever I like.

These improvements are software, not beyond reasonable and I believe they are necessary to keep any reasonable person from wishing to dump their iPhone.

=sw

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Why Drilling is Not the Answer

There is no doubt that I would board a yacht if a pretty brunette promised me there would be offshore drilling.

Our nation seems to be stuck in a similar trance. Even Democrats are approving more drilling.

Well over a decade ago, Carl Sagan warned that the climate consequences of human caused emissions would be vehemently denied, simply because the changes required would be so great.

The last thing we need to do is drill for more oil.



If we all had electric cars, they would emit less carbon dioxide even if we charged them on coal fired power. Also the coal is domestic not shipped from foreign sources often with destabilizing influence. Even this is a "step one", not a long term solution.

Solar Thermal power can spin turbines in the day and even store heat in molten salt at night. We could use Solar generated electricity to electrolyze and compress hydrogen for storage.



Bio fuels can be made from plants other than corn that can produce more alcohol per acre, more harvests per year and not compete for food growing lands. Swamp reeds like cat-tails have such benefits.



Wind power can be increased and a portion of it used to make and compress Hydrogen.

Even T.Boone Pickens makes a great point about switching to domestic natural gas. Driving a Honda Civic GX (Compressed Natural Gas model) is both cheaper (in terms of fuel costs) and emits far less CO2 than any hybrid. It is a cleaner way to use domestically sourced fossil fuels that is available now. That is a far better choice than finding more oil. Eventually, we'll want to get out of the fossil fuel business.

We could then clean the atmosphere using new carbon capture technology and renewable energy powered methods to store it in solids like sodium carbonate. There is already too much CO2 for us to contend with that we will not be able to avoid future serious impacts such as extreme weather, dust bowl droughts, sea level rise, cold snaps in places not adapted to them etc.

We don't need cheap oil now. We need to get off the oil! We need to invest in and develop what is at hand and already apparent and available.

Sometimes the debate in this country seems to legitimize the needs of those who would rape the planet and trod the less fortunate under their feet to enhance their own wealth before doing what is best for the ecosystem we all share and upon which we all rely. Such corruption is growing in big businesses of all kinds, though particularly in the energy sector.

I will vote for the candidate that supports renewable energy and rejects sacrificing the biosphere for the profits of a few.

=sw