"Success is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well."
What Happened to Change We Can Believe In?
Topic: Politics and Law
11:22 pm EDT, Oct 24, 2010
The real tragedy here, though, is not whatever happens in midterm elections. It’s the long-term prognosis for America. The obscene income inequality bequeathed by the three-decade rise of the financial industry has societal consequences graver than even the fundamental economic unfairness. When we reward financial engineers infinitely more than actual engineers, we “lure our most talented graduates to the largely unproductive chase” for Wall Street riches, as the economist Robert H. Frank wrote in The Times last weekend. Worse, Frank added, the continued squeeze on the middle class leads to a wholesale decline in the quality of American life — from more bankruptcy filings and divorces to a collapse in public services, whether road repair or education, that taxpayers will no longer support.
Even as the G.O.P. benefits from unlimited corporate campaign money, it’s pulling off the remarkable feat of persuading a large swath of anxious voters that it will lead a populist charge against the rulers of our economic pyramid — the banks, energy companies, insurance giants and other special interests underwriting its own candidates. Should those forces prevail, an America that still hasn’t remotely recovered from the worst hard times in 70 years will end up handing over even more power to those who greased the skids.
We can blame much of this turn of events on the deep pockets of oil billionaires like the Koch brothers and on the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which freed corporations to try to buy any election they choose. But the Obama White House is hardly innocent. Its failure to hold the bust’s malefactors accountable has helped turn what should have been a clear-cut choice on Nov. 2 into a blurry contest between the party of big corporations and the party of business as usual.
Which party do you choose - Party of Big Corporations or Party of Business as Usual?
Where do burned out rock stars go? Their own reality show, of course. haha
Robert Van Winkle, the rapper most people know as Vanilla Ice, rose to fame in the early 1990s with the hit single “Ice Ice Baby.” In recent years, however, Mr. Van Winkle has been developing a different area of expertise — renovating and selling homes. On Oct. 14 at 9 p.m. E.S.T., the DIY Network will show the first episode of “The Vanilla Ice Project,” Mr. Van Winkle’s new reality series. The show, which documents his skills as a handyman, follows him and a team of workers as they renovate a 7,000-square-foot, six-bedroom house in Palm Beach, Fla.
For nearly a century of solid profitability, Merrill Lynch was the company that brought Wall Street to Main Street, turning tens of millions of Americans into investors. But by the early 2000s, under C.E.O. Stanley O'Neal, it had developed a raging case of Goldman Sachs envy and began a blind stampede into unprecedented risk. In an excerpt from their new book, Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera chart the evisceration of the “Mother Merrill” culture as the firm crashed head-on with the mortgage meltdown.
As Wall Street hangs on the question “Will Greece default?,” the author heads for riot-stricken Athens, and for the mysterious Vatopaidi monastery, which brought down the last government, laying bare the country’s economic insanity. But beyond a $1.2 trillion debt (roughly a quarter-million dollars for each working adult), there is a more frightening deficit. After systematically looting their own treasury, in a breathtaking binge of tax evasion, bribery, and creative accounting spurred on by Goldman Sachs, Greeks are sure of one thing: they can’t trust their fellow Greeks. ..
As it turned out, what the Greeks wanted to do, once the lights went out and they were alone in the dark with a pile of borrowed money, was turn their government into a piñata stuffed with fantastic sums and give as many citizens as possible a whack at it.
Some companies and countries will do better than others. "In China and India," he says, "there's no need for any innovation. Their business model for the next 20 years is copy the West." The West, he says, needs to do "new things." Innovation, he says, comes from a "frontier" culture, a culture of "exceptionalism," where "people expect to do exceptional things"—in our world, still an almost uniquely American characteristic, and one we're losing.
"If the universities are dominated by politicians instead of scientists, if there are ways the government is too inefficient to work, and we're just throwing good money after bad, you end up with a nearly revolutionary situation. That's why the idea that technology is broken is taboo. Really taboo. You probably have to get rid of the welfare state. You have to throw out Keynesian economics. All these things would not work in a world where technology is broken," he says.
Microsoft employees hold funeral parade for iPhone, Blackberry
Topic: Tech Industry
5:07 pm EDT, Sep 11, 2010
I bet the Microsoft Zune and Kin teams feel so unloved.
Microsoft workers celebrated the release to manufacturing of Windows Phone 7 by parading through their Redmond campus on Friday with iPhone and BlackBerry hearses.
Employees dressed up in fancy dress and also modified cars to include Windows Phone branding. Aside from the crazy outfits the workers made fake hearses for giant BlackBerry and iPhone devices. Employees cheekily claimed they had buried the competition with Windows Phone 7.
Microsoft workers also performed a rendition of Thriller.
Police not violating 4th Amendment by placing GPS on your car when it isn't in your garage?
Topic: Politics and Law
10:14 pm EDT, Aug 30, 2010
Here's the quiz: if police attach a GPS device to your car and track you using that device, without having got a warrant to do so, is the Fourth Amendment violated?
And here's the issue: an Oregonian named Juan Pineda-Moreno had such a thing happen to him and was convicted of growing marijuana after police tracked his car to a suspected growing site. Pineda-Moreno appealed, citing the fact that on two occasions DEA agents placed tracking devices on his car while it was in his driveway – which he considered private, not public, property – and therefore breached his Fourth Amendment rights.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, ruling that Pineda-Moreno didn't have any signage or barriers around his property to clearly indicate that it was private property, and since "an individual going up to the house to deliver the newspaper or to visit someone would have to go through the driveway to get to the house," why couldn't the DEA? Further, the court ruled that the underside of his car isn't private because "[t]he undercarriage is part of the car's exterior, and as such, is not afforded a reasonable expectation of privacy."
What we are experiencing is a post-bubble bust, similar to what Japan has spent two decades suffering through in the wake of its own real-estate bubble. As I pointed out many, many times as ours took shape, there is a big difference in terms of consequences between a bubble that is focused on equity, like stock market/dot-com mania, and one that uses massive amounts of debt, as our real estate bubble did.
So while there is a great deal of focus on whether we are about to have a double-dip recession, I would say that there is nothing to double dip from. The economy overshot to the downside in 2009 and has snapped back. (While many debated whether our recovery would be V-, W-, L-, or U-shaped, I maintained that something like a square root sign was more likely.)