Monday, January 29, 2007

Bosses

I once worked for a sausage factory and divided my time between shipping and the brat line. The chap I worked with was named Ever. That time is one of the toughest, for I worked for the Wurst boss, Ever.

Quote of the day

From Fergus and the Druid, W.B. Yeats

“A wild and foolish labourer is a king,

To do, and do, and do, and never dream.”

We’re so focused on doing, on completing and accomplishing and advancing that we forget to dream. Heck, many of us forget how to dream! With no dreams, there are no goals, thus no plans, so life becomes a wandering morass of unconnected and empty (if completed) task lists. So many of us dream of kingship, so it seems.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Seattle, The Viaduct, and Life In The City

Here’s my response to this article/survey (online at the Seattle PI).

The Question:

What's the best option for the viaduct?

Gov. Gregoire seems to have resuscitated the possibility for a tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Have you decided what transportation option you want on the waterfront? If not, what information do you need in order to come to a decision?

Looking over the debate, the mayor only seems to be concerned about the beautification aspects of this whole debate. I'm bothered by the fact that few folks are mentioning the economic impact of tunnel construction, how we will mitigate the effects of this roadway being inaccessible for nearly a decade, or, of course, the justification of the extra expense. The tunnel hasn't been sold to me, at least.

Personally, I’m worried that this project has not been thought through. The economic impacts for areas such as Ballard and immense, and haven’t been publicly addressed/discussed. Mayor Nickels has not addressed many of the valid criticisms of his plan, and certainly hasn’t made a case for the tunnel option being better. The only I see in the tunnel is the beautification of the waterfront. A great thing, don’t get me wrong. I’m just not convinced that it’s worth the other costs incurred.

Quote of the Day, Thanks to Google

“The outcome of any serious research can only be to make two questions grow where only one grew before.”
- Thorstein Veblen

This drives home a point that I’ve often meditated on; why is it that that exploration only whets the appetite for further exploration? I was once told that we’re close to knowing all there is to know. What a load of rubbish, eh? That was some time back (junior high, methinks). Well, whatever. What’s really amazing here is how powerful this is. So many folks think that the purpose of research is (simply) answering a question, finding the truth. Yet, the more you learn, the further you seem to be from the truth. Perhaps it is within the quest for knowledge that we learn how far from the truth we really were. Eh, sounds good…

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Acquistion Timeline

Here’s a little gem put together by the folks at shmula.com. It shows all the acquisitions by Google, Microsoft and Yahoo over the past few years. It’s a very well done and thought provoking thing. Thanks to Marketing Pilgrim for featuring this.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Great Bumper Stickers

Some are quite dumb, but a few are cute/clever.

>>
>>Subject: Great Bumper Stickers!
>>
>>
>>
>> 1) (On an infant's shirt): Already smarter than Bush
>>
>> 2) 1/20/09: End of an Error
>>
>> 3) That's OK, I Wasn't Using My Civil Liberties Anyway
>>
>> 4) Let's Fix Democracy in This Country First
>>
>> 5) If You Want a Nation Ruled By Religion, Move to Iran
>>
>> 6) Bush. Like a Rock. Only Dumber.
>>
>> 7) You Can't Be Pro-War And Pro-Life At The Same Time
>>
>> 8) If You Can Read This, You're Not Our President
>>
>> 9) Of Course It Hurts: You're Getting Screwed by an Elephant
>>
>> 10) Hey, Bush Supporters: Embarrassed Yet?
>>
>> 11) George Bush: Creating the Terrorists Our Kids Will Have to
Fight
>>
>> 12) impeachment: It's Not Just for Blowjobs Anymore
>>
>> 13) Give Bush a Blowjob So We Can Impeach Him, Too
>>
>> 14) America : One Nation, Under Surveillance
>>
>> 15) They Call Him "W" So He Can Spell It
>>
>> 16) Which God Do You Kill For?
>>
>> 17) Cheney/Satan '08
>>
>> 18) Jail to the Chief
>>
>> 19) Who Would Jesus Torture?
>>
>> 20) No, Seriously, Why Did We Invade
>>
>> 21) Bush: God's Way of Proving Intelligent Design is Full Of Crap
>>
>> 22) So Many Christians, So Few Lions
>>
>> 23) Bad president! No Banana.
>>
>> 24) We Need a President Who's Fluent In At Least One Language
>>
>> 25) We're Making Enemies Faster Than We Can Kill Them
>>
>> 26) Buck Fush
>>
>> 27) Rich Man's War, Poor Man's Blood
>>
>> 28) Is It Vietnam Yet?
>>
>> 29) Bush Doesn't Care About White People, Either
>>
>> 30) Where Are We Going? And Why Are We In This Handbasket?
>>
>> 31) You Elected Him. You Deserve Him.
>>
>> 32) Frodo Failed. Bush Has the Ring.
>>
>> 33) Impeach Cheney First
>>
>> 34) Dubya, Your Dad Shoulda Pulled Out, Too
>>
>> 35) When Bush Took Office, Gas Was $1.46
>>
>> 36) The Republican Party: Our Bridge to the 11th Century
>>
>> 37) 2004: Embarrassed 2005: Horrified 2006: Terrified

New Phisher Scam

A scary new phisher exploit (pointed out by Deb at WXPnews.com). Eeek!

Phishers get deadly serious

Phishers have traditionally used trickery and deception to gain access to your personal information and, subsequently, your money. But now they're resorting to threats of violence; a recent phishing scam purports to be from a professional hit man who's been hired to kill you, but will drop the contract if you give him enough cash. Read more about it here:
http://www.wxpnews.com/DRML9K/070116-Phishers

iPhone-esque device - from LG

Engadget has a cool piece about LG’s iPhone-esque device. It convinces me that the format developed for the iPhone will be very popular. I haven’t had a chance to really research this, so I don’t know if this uses Symbian, Windows Mobile, or what. We’ll see, I guess. Not too much to excited over, but something interesting, nonetheless.

iPhone & LG KE850: separated at birth?


Two sparsely-buttoned large, touchscreen phones: the Apple iPhone, and the LG KE850 (which already won the International Forum Design Product Design Award for 2007). Separated at birth, or possible lawsuit number two for Apple? You decide.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Thoughts on Sony

Sony didn’t learn from Beta format mistakes

Sony isn't letting the porn industry use their BlueRay format? I'm amazed at their short-sidedness here. Adult Entertainment was one of the key drivers for several industries success. It was key (as Scoble points out here) in VHS winning the format wars. Plus, it was one of the early winners when it came to profit making on the net. Someone might want to the let Sonys exec's know that they're locking out a $57 billion industry.

On a mildly related note, I received a Sony Reader over the holidays. I've played a little bit with it, and am going to spend some significant time op-testing it over the next few weeks. Already, though, I've two complaints. Number one, no backlighting. So, while I'm waiting for the train to come on a dark platform, too bad, so sad. I think this was a gross oversight. It might save a bit on battery life, but I can think of way too many times that the backlight would be critical. It certainly will keep me from using this for my latenight/can't sleep reading. Also, I wonder why it doesn't have a touch screen. I don't know the price points here, but if it doesn't add too much to the sales price, they should seriously consider dropping one of those in. That could also expand the functionality of the device.

Google

I'm becoming a Google devotee. The way they've updated the personal homepage is top notch. It's clean, concise, and easy to tweak: a marvelous combination! I've also been enjoying the range of options available for the toolbar (point of clarification: I use Firefox 2). I just discovered the RSS feed "adder" (bad grammar, spelling, etc, but you know what I mean) and have been enjoying easily adding feeds to my page. Yahoo was getting quite cluttered, and the blasted cute graphics were driving me nuts.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Fallout in cannon accident: Woman accused of threats against injured teen

Fallout in cannon accident: Woman accused of threats against injured teen

There are some folks who just stun me with their immaturity. I respect and value traditions. However, if someone gets seriously hurt from it, it's time to put it to bed. Too bad, so sad. For a 41 year-old to make threatening phone calls to a 16 year-old whose legs were severely injured by a cannon at a football game is simply pathetic. Gaah!

Less you think, however, this is indicative of Snohomish community values, read here. I'm glad the Mayor stepped up and wrote this.

A Rebuttal : Green lobby must be treated as a religion

I felt a compelling need to respond to John Kay’s piece, “Green lobby must be treated as a religion”, from the Financial Times earlier this week. (To be clear, I’m simply responding to the most salient portions.)

Environmentalism embraces a myth of the Fall: the loss of harmony between man and nature caused by our materialistic society. Al Gore recounted the words of Chief Seattle, as his tribe relinquished their ancient lands: "Will you teach your children what we have taught our children? That the earth is our mother?"


Perhaps one component of the environmental community does. “Environmentalism” captures a wide group of people. Environmentalists include animal rights types, members of many faith traditions (Christian, Buddhist, etc), as well as a core group of SCIENTISTS, who are the ones who have done most of the heavy lifting until recently. Many within the environmental movement (most by my experience) are actually scientists who would find Kay’s allusion silly, if not stupid.


 Environmentalism embraces a myth of the Fall: the loss of harmony between man and nature caused by our materialistic society…This lost Eden never existed.

Interestingly, as a long-time member of the environmental community, Kay’s reference is the first I’ve heard of this claimed Eden. I’ve never heard claim to a notion of a “fall” in this context, except by the members of the environmental community that come out of a religious tradition. That’s independent (or at least only a subset) of “environmentalism”.
 
Humans have burned and eaten the environment since time immemorial.

Not a debated point. However, what’s at issue is not that we are “eating and burning”, but the massive scale that humanity is doing so now.
 
The first Americans crossed the Bering Strait and killed every tame animal they saw.

My inner snark wants to dwell on the semantics of “every”, but I will resist getting too twisted up in this strange claim.
 
Chief Seattle sold his heritage for a life of luxury and his eloquent speech may have been penned by a television scriptwriter.

This is an amazingly foolish thing to say, and quite off topic (a life of luxury?). One point to make clear, Chief Seattle’s famous speech wasn’t written by Seattle. It was written by a Dr. Henry A. Smith. At best, Dr. Smith was the only transcriber of the event, suffering it with only some embellishment. Smith wrote this account, though, in the 1880’s (from notes he took from the 1854 speech. Not likely any television scriptwriters around.). 15 seconds with Google could have prevented this asinine comment.

The litany of environmental degradation had to confront the manifest fact that many aspects of the environment were steadily improving, with cleaner air, rivers and seashores.

Another statement that I find disturbing. I guess that “less toxic than in the 1970’s” is “steadily improving” to Mr. Kay (for instance, one of the rivers that feeds Lake Erie, the Cuyahoga caught fire June of 1969. Is that really the point of reference you want use for the claim of “improving”?). “Steadily improving” requires a reference point, and the point at which the trend starts its upward migration is a rather dismal one. Considering that the environmental health of the world’s waterways is still weak, in an incredibly precarious way, this statement is quite foolish. Improving from deadly to almost able to survive is progress, if not acceptable.
 
…the world is warming up, which is plainly true

Agreed (of course).

…but that this warming is our fault, which is less plainly true.

Except to scientists who studies atmospheric and environmental science and are not employed by an industry “think tank”/PR group (yes, I hold contempt for such folks). I haven’t seen a peer-reviewed article in ages that refutes that global warming is human caused. The evidence within the glacial record, amongst several other pieces of evidence, is quite clear.

Environmental evangelists are therefore not interested in pragmatic solutions to climate change or technological fixes for it.

I’d love to see some substantiation of this claim. As an environmentalist who not only is, but works on a team with like minded individuals, this is obviously ignorant blather.

They are even less interested in evidence that if we were really serious about reducing carbon emissions we could do so by large amounts without significantly affecting our economies or our lives.

Actually, most members of the environmental community have been arguing this point for years. Not only are we interested, but are quite committed to it. Yes, there are some people who think that all humanity should revert to a hunter/gather society, but that’s hardly all-inclusive of the environmental community. As an aside, I do get quite a bit of pleasure pointing out that many companies taking leads in this area are quite productive. Toyota is wonderful example.

Business should treat the environmental movement as it treats other forms of religious belief.

If one equates “science” to “religion”. Some do...

The social impact of religions and ideologies, for good and ill, does not depend much on the factual accuracy of their stories.

Of course, if the facts line up behind the ideology… I do find it interesting he chooses to break apart “religions” and “ideologies” here.

The injunction to be careful of the impact of our actions on the air, the earth and the water is well taken.

Is it? If, in order to maintain the status-quo, you need to resort to claiming mountains of peer-reviewed scientific research is some strange adherence to a non-existent religious system, is it “well taken”?
 
The danger of environmental evangelism is that ritual, gesture and rhetoric take the place of substance.

This final claim is mind-boggling. The mountains of “substance” in support of human caused global warming are not substantive?

I’ve believed for some time that many economists cling to their religion of “the market system”. They cling desperately to these theoretical, abstract constructions that are completely disconnected from natural systems. Though I value the contributions many economists make, and the insights they provide, such nonsense as this published in the Financial Times is simply foolish. This piece is counter-productive, only serving to make the business community look ridiculous. Mr. Kay has written many interesting and intelligent works over the years (particularly in business structure and strategy); this is not amongst them. Had he committed his considerable intellect to this work, he may have had something valuable to say. However, his off-hand manner and complete disregard for facts and scientific evidence greatly detracts from his reputation and the quality of work normally present in the Financial Times. Quite a pity, really.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Bush's Iraq Speech - FactCheck.org

Bush's Iraq Speech - FactCheck.org

As a response to Bush's speech, this sums things up nicely (as well as Durbin's response). Yesterday, though, I heard a little snippet of Bush's speech to a group of troops. There, he said that Americans had forgotten that we are in a critical battle (or something to that effect) and insinuated that Americans had forgotten 9/11. That is the main piece I feel a need to respond to.

Particularly annoying to me was the allusion that our annoyance with Bush's performance in Iraq is the result of ignoring the threat of terrorism. This is such an amazing piece of rubbish that sinks Bush to a new low. He seems hell-bent on ensuring that he doesn't have a shred of credibility or respect left when he leaves office. Sorry about the digression...

It's been clear for anyone who has any connection to reality that Iraq has nothing to do with terrorism; at least not initially. Even now, Al Queda and other terrorist organizations are rather small operators (with increasing political clout).

As this FactCheck piece points out, corruption is perhaps the most critical driver in this madness. Ironically, it's also helps drive people into the arms of the extremists (it was what made the Taliban initially popular in Afghanistan, and what drives those still supporting them). It's easy to dive into a diatribe about Bush's links to Halliburton, etc, with this thread, but I'll resist.

One other point that I would like someone to consider is our insistence on "going it alone" (sure, with the Brits, Australians and other forces of the willing, but really...). To me, the most obvious "escalation" would have been to bring in other nations. That would have been a key way to provide legitimacy to the occupation forces.

The way through and out of this mess is convoluted and complex, just the sort of notion that someone like Bush would pooh-pooh. I find this particularly troublesome. At some point we need to ask for help. Sadly, I'm becoming convinced that the Iraq conflict won't be resolved until Bush is out of office.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Apple Waves Its Wand at the Phone - New York Times

Apple Waves Its Wand at the Phone - New York Times

One of a zillion articles on the debut of the iPhone. Dave Pogue has one key piece missing from most others: he's actually handled one (albiet for around an hour). I really appreciate Pogue's review, especially in lieu of the aforementioned point. If you're excited by the thing, this a great piece to give you some insight about how the thing actually works. With that in mind, another good piece on all of this is over at Treonauts. They've done a great job comparing the Treo 680 and the iPhone.

Another good piece to read is this one at the NY Times. It gives a good explanation about Cingular's motivations in all this. In here, I have one point to argue with Roger Entner an analyst with Ovum Research (Ovum? Anyway...). He's arguing that the price point ($499) will limit its appeal. He needs to look at the iPod, and how it was introduced. I would gamble that Apple has several lower cost options in the works (the iPhone Mini and Nano?), which it will release after it has solidly grabbed the "cool" market. The iPod was quite expensive to start, which ensured it was the domain of the chic. Notice, too, that Apple always has something in the spendy category, keeping the elite fueled with ego stoking while expanding the product's reach.

It looks to me that the keyboard will be the key marketing grounds for these devices (remember, the iPhone has the virtual one). Though I'm filled with gadget lust for one of these, it's hard for me to ignore price (I can get an unlocked 680 for the low end price for an iPhone. It is my deepest hope that the iPhone will kick start Palm, Motorola, RIM and the rest to redouble their efforts. It's very clear that Apple's here for the long-haul and will innovate the pants off of anyone slacking. To my chums at Palm, look closely (and quickly) at the iPhone, then get to WORK. You have the best chance to really compete.

Monday, January 01, 2007

The one that got away

At a bookstore I wondered about the books I held. I'm not drawn as strongly to the big titles, best sellers or well known authors. Sure, I buy them from time to time, but they aren't the ones that it's painful to walk away from. I love the books from smaller voices, voices that don't have the million dollar marketing campaign. Those books are hard to leave, for they often don't come into my life again. They are gems, hard to see wrapped in earth, and shameful to leave behind.