The Blob

Monday, July 14, 2008

New Web Site

This is a shameless plug. My employer, Enclarity, just updated its Web site. This blog posting is a desperate attempt to link to it, so that Google's search engine spider will then re-index the site. The reason: a bunch of URLs on the site changed, and if you do a search for some of the pages, you'll get a classic "404" or "Page Not Found" error. By linking to our site from here, this should get Google, Yahoo and MSN to snoop around the site again, and re-index everything. I hope.

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Gee, what a great idea!

MSNBC is reporting that the National Rifle Association (NRA) is strongly opposing the Bush Administration's support for legislation that would prohibit suspected terrorists from buying firearms. Now that's what I call ballsy and creative thinking. I mean, even ruthless terrorists should have rights, yes? Sure, innocent people could die in cold blood (think Virginia Tech) because the NRA had its way - again - but after all, defending the Second Amendment is more important. Heck, how else could a poor, defenseless terrorist defend him/herself?

Maybe the problem is this: these days, it's pretty hard for any self-respecting terrorist to get their dirty little mitts on a few hundred thousand pounds of fertilizer and fuel oil, much less some decent high grade plutonium here in the US of A. Yes, I know. It's easy to infiltrate our borders, but that's when the hassles begin. Think of all the paperwork any terrorist has to fill out to get the good stuff. So, why bother with that when courtesy of the good folks at the NRA, a self-respecting nut job could simply get their hands on some full auto assault rifles, shotguns and more?

Yessir, the NRA is showing that they really care about America by standing behind the Second Amendment at all costs.

What a crock. Just what we need - giving free access to guns by people who want to kill innocent people. I hope, just once, that the NRA gets their asses handed to them on this one. God knows, they have enough blood on their hands.

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This is totally lame...

Did you know that there is a Disneyland in China? I didn’t either. Nor did Disney. With its slogan “Disneyland is too far,” Beijing’s Shijingshan Amusement Park features a replica of Cinderella’s Castle, with staff dressed like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and other Disney characters.

None of this is authorized by Disney - but that has not stopped the state-owned park from creating its own counterfeit version of the Magic Kingdom in a brazen example of the sort of open and widespread copyright piracy that has Washington fuming.

The United States announced Monday it would file a case at the World Trade Organization over rampant copyright piracy in China, a practice which US companies say deprives them of billions of dollars each year.

Here's the link for an article and photos of really lame Chinese copies of Disney characters. And just for fun, read this article in Wikipedia about Chery Automobiles, the leading Chinese car manufacturer, which thinks nothing of counterfeiting other companies' designs. Completely.

If the Chinese expect to dominate the world in this century, they won't get there with blatant counterfeiting, which seems to be what they do best. Original thought counts. And we're keeping score.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

They said it. Not me.

This week's kidnapping of British Navy troops in the disputed Shatt al-Arab waterway underscores how lame the regime ruling Iran really is. It's pretty transparent that they are retaliating for the recent defections of Iranian government and military personnel to the West, and their obvious displeasure at valuable people spilling secrets about Iran's military and nuclear plans.

If you think the two aren't related, look at what was reported by the Times of London on threats by Iran to kidnap westerners in Europe. Obviously, the threats are as real as they are totally lame. To think that a nation-state would openly kidnap innocent people uninvolved with the increasing hostility between Iran and the west shows the degree of moral bankruptcy of the regime.

Despite this, I could not help but take some dark humor at what Reza Faker, a writer for Subhi Sadek, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s weekly newspaper paper and someone believed to have close links to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, wrote, warning that Iran would strike:

"We’ve got the ability to capture a nice bunch of blue-eyed blond-haired officers and feed them to our fighting cocks."

I don't know about you, but that's got to be the most gay thing I've heard in a long time.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Be afraid. Be very afraid

Bruce Schneier, a noted computer security expert, wrote Why Vista is bad for you, a chillingly insightful article that is a must-read for anyone who uses a PC. Schneier points out that much of the slowness of Vista is because the new operating system was rewritten to make heavy Digital Rights Management (DRM) a core function. He points out that Microsoft may try to spin this as being at the behest of the mullahs running the record and movie industries, but it's crap. The real reason, Schneier asserts, is to allow Microsoft to exercise complete control of all digital content, including music, movies and even content that you create.

Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer was once quoted as saying, "DRM is the future." I take him seriously, as to me, it shows that Microsoft intends to extend its monopoly even further than we might imagine. Regardless of the broadsides Microsoft has taken from anti-trust lawsuits, the company has never wavered. It's not enough to control operating systems. Ballmer has set his sights on owning the Internet and digital media by setting proprietary "standards" that only work with Microsoft-based operating or DRM systems.

This is why I don't use a Windows-based PC at home. I don't have that option in the office, and I am a lot less productive as a result.

Schneier suggests that we avoid Vista like the plague, in part to avoid the control it will exert over us. He posits that voting to not buy Vista, along with legal pressure, might be the only way to assert our interests on Microsoft. But it's easier said than done, because we'll have to and want to upgrade at some point. And with all the money that Microsoft has, they can hold their collective breath longer than we can.

There is one other option: get a Mac. (Insert snide sarcasm about my being a Steve Jobs fanboy here.) Say what you will, if you have not tried the Mac and OS-X, you will be in for a pleasant surprise. I'm not saying Steve Jobs is a complete angel. But compared to Steve Ballmer, he is. When it comes to holding someone like Ballmer accountable, nothing beats competition. God knows, federal anti-trust lawsuits aren't something to depend on, given the past record of the government. Besides, rarely has the blunt instrument of judicial review or legislation ever worked the way you thought. Such is the law of unintended consequences.

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Friday, February 09, 2007

Signs that a bad-ass pandemic could be coming

This morning, I happened to see a news release issued by the Department of Health and Human Services announcing the Washington, DC office of PR giant Ogilvy was selected to prepare a "Critical Pandemic Planning Communications Campaign." Now, I don't know about you, but this is anything but comforting news. Memo to self: order that Haz-Mat suit you've been thinking or getting...

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Monday, April 03, 2006

Highly Recommended: The Future For Investors

Every so often, you read a book that blows you away. So it is with The Future For Investors by Jeremy Siegel. Professor Siegel is a distinguished economist from the Wharton School of Economics. The book simply blew away about 90 percent of the assumptions I had on the stock market. Instead of chasing down the next Google as an investment, Professor Siegel instead methodically gives evidence that overlooked, large companies that pay big dividends have in the past and will in the future create much better investment returns.

The second part of the book deals with the dramatic changes in demographics that will occur worldwide in the next 20 years, and how that will impact investors as well as people planning retirement. Quite simply, the baby boom generation will be retiring beginning within 10 years. That's the bulk of our population. And that means baby boomers will soon start cashing in their stocks, selling their homes, and tapping in on Social Security. A stock's or home's price is only as good as having a market for someone to buy what you're selling. And if there are fewer Gen-Xers or Gen-Y buyers for stocks and homes being sold, this will cause huge problems.

It's a bad enough problem here in the US. Europe and especially Japan is aging faster. In 20 years, over half the population of Germany will be retirement age. Japan even more so. This will cause tremendous problems for their societies. In the US, as the tax base shrinks, I can only conclude that government will shrink with it. That means fewer social programs and cuts in the defense budget. In the face of growing hostility from the Islamic world and a rapid arms build-up by China, North Korea and Iran, things get interesting.

Siegel sees the answer in the rapidly growing economies of China, India and other developing countries. Something that will blow the collective minds of Americans is the fact that within 20 years, the economies of China and India will sail past that off the US. It will be a shock to many in the United States, but in these growing markets, Siegel believes that we will find the buyers for our stocks and homes.

Saving Social Security will be another matter. We have come to anticipate that we will retire at 62 or 65. Siegel, and a growing number of economists worrying about this, feel that the one way to salvage the rapid drain on Social Security will be to have Americans work much longer, and postpone retirement for an additional 10 years. Other solutions being considered, including raising Social Security taxes, would have an inverse (negative) effect.

On many levels, I consider this to be one of the most profound books I have ever read. If you care about your future, this is a must-read.


Wednesday, September 14, 2005

They’re at it again

The Associated Press is running a story on a federal court decision handed down today that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools was declared unconstitutional by a federal judge ruling in the second attempt by an atheist to have the pledge removed from classrooms. The man lost his previous battle before the U.S. Supreme Court.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton ruled that the pledge's reference to one nation "under God" violates school children's right to be "free from a coercive requirement to affirm God."

The ruling by Judge Karlton was in – get ready – The Democratic Socialist People’s Republic of San Francisco. Why am I not surprised?

I am not an atheist, nor am I a bible thumping, flag-waving hyper-conservative. The religious issue in this case means little or nothing to me here. I just see this is yet another move by a hyper-liberal body of people to trample and shred any institutions of our democracy. To them, patriotism is a sign of weakness and should be destroyed at any opportunity. While I believe that people have a right to not believe in God, it angers me that they want to take that right away from me.