Sunday, May 29, 2005

Hackers' Assaults May Prod Reforms

Hackers' assaults may prod reforms
Unknown to almost everyone, companies like LexisNexis have been collecting all kinds of information about us for years. To make matters worse, we learn earlier this spring, that these bohemoth warehouses of personal information are not only collecting personal information without the knowledge or consent of those the info is being collected about, but that they've been hacked...

Can something good come out of this? You bet it can. I don't condone hacking in any form (not even the white-hat variety), but sometimes you can make lemonade with your lemons. On the positive side of this, we now know that there are companies like LexisNexis out there and what they are up to. It us up to us to pressure our political leaders to help put a STOP to this serious invasion of our privacy and breach of our trust. In spite of what many in the corporate world believe, there are some things more important than making money any way you can. Like honesty, integrity, and yes, even privacy.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Sympathetic Irony

Terri Schiavo. Terri Schiavo. Terri Schiavo. And if I write it about 10 million more times, I might get close to the number of times the name has been mentioned over the past few weeks.

Needless to say, I'll write it a few more times as her sad, but common, case holds media attention and as people, who are desperate to find meanings in their own menial lives, continue to protest and "fight" for her rights to live or her right to die depending on which side of the political divide one may rest on (apart from her parents and husband who have a personal stake and should have intense interest).

My real concern relating to this story has nothing to do with rights of Schiavo, her parents, or her husband one way or another. As was evident in some of my previous articles, I have this incredible capability to not care about some issues. I can actually understand why a lot of people are interested in this case--it's some seriously gripping drama. My concern, though, doesn't have anything to do with the drama, but the timing and the specific characters. Why are we interested now? And why Schiavo? There have been many others that have been in the same situation in the past and yet none of those have garnered this much interest.

As with many hot-button political issues, this is all about timing. The question we should be asking (perhaps rather coldly) is not about Terri Schiavo's life or death--after all, many very competent doctors and judges (who are not the spawn of satan) have already ruled on the issue. The real question is (throwing a bone to consiracy theorists everywhere)what are the powers-that-be trying to distracts us from?

Or what are they trying to draw our attention to? The language presented by many, such as the evangelical ramblings of Tom Delay act as a complaint against "activist judges." This come at a time when the Bush Administration needs to build support for judicial appointments. The argument goes as follows: Look at what these terrible activist judges are doing. Support our judges and such horrible things won't happen. My question: where was all of this concern back in 2000 when it was first decided that Schiavo's feeding tube can be removed? Or since that time? Hasn't there been 5 years and numerous appeals before this point?

If they were that concerned about life, why not try to help Sun Hudson as well? The real reason: because Sun Hudson, an infant, was not kept alive because of a law that Bush himself signed back when he was governor of Texas.

The simple truth: neither Bush nor his cronies care about Terri Schiavo or what happens to her or her family. The irony of this case lies in the fact that she has been kept alive this long largely because of the judges who have granted numerous appeals to her parents' case. It is ironic that this poor woman and her family have become a political football and that she serves as little more, according to Tom Delay, than an example of what's wrong with our society.

Our so-called leaders should be ashamed of themselves.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

And then there were... How many?

A computer programmer walks into a bar early one afternoon. He bellies up to the bar orders two drinks, downs them quickly and orders two more. The bartender says, "Hey buddy, you look like something's bothering you." The guy looks up at the bartender and says...

If you're waiting for the punchline, I'll go ahead and end the suspense by letting you know that there isn't one. Sorry. As it turns out, this story happens everyday somewhere in the U.S. all because U.S. corporations, as they are ever-guarding the bottom line, are systematically moving high tech jobs to places like India and the Phillipines. Not that I have anything against Indians or Filipinos. If you're going to ship a lot of our jobs off-shore, those places are as good as any.

But here's a novel approach--why not keep the jobs here?

American labor is more expensive, but many companies are finding that the cost of handing over their IT functions to off-shore companies is greater than any of them anticipated. The problem with off-shoring IT, HR, and other jobs is that these off-shore companies typically do not understand the businesses that they support. And although their labor is cheaper than American labor, this lack of business knowledge often amounts to their being greater cost because of missed or misunderstood requirements in the development process. In short, there is no substitute for business knowledge and proximity for understanding IT needs.

There's another down-side to the increased off-shoring that is taking place. As America's trade deficit increases, there will be less money to buy American products if we continue to off-shore our most lucrative jobs. After all, who buys American products but Americans? Some certainly, but not nearly as many (hence, the term trade deficit). Therefore, in the long run, the companies that off-shore their highest paying jobs will weaken the overall American economy while only increasing profits for themselves in the very short term. In the long run, they do more harm than good.

This short-term thinking is not only bad for those whose jobs are outsourced, but also for the overall American economy. By being more compassionate, and more pro American, American corporations serve their own best interests by not outsourcing as much of their business processes overseas. In the short-term, by ensuring that those working for them understand their business and its needs, in the long-term, by keeping a customer base to buy their products and services.

Perhaps before these corporations going waving the American flag and claiming strong American values, they should put their money where there mouths are and stop sending American jobs offshore.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Why Is This An Issue?

At the risk of offending almost everyone, I felt I had to bring this issue up. As most people are in America, I'm generally a pro-choice advocate, but in sort of a lazy way. The truth of the matter is that as a male my reasons for being pro-choice are generally selfish. To put it bluntly, I simply don't care if a woman has an abortion or not.

Harsh, possibly. Callous, probably. But honest. As a man it's difficult to get overly concerned about the issue of abortion. Except for one thing: elections are won and lost on this issue alone. Many people act as if the abortion issue were the only issue of importance in America and ignore or stifle discussions of many other, more important, issues. Education is lagging in the U.S. as we become less competitive. The national debt continues to get higher. And our deficit is growing at alarming rates. Oh... and that little war thing that we've got going on. No telling how many military and civilians are dying in Iraq.

The obvious truth is, I'll never have to make a decision on whether or not to go through an abortion. So, I believe that I have no right to tell any woman what to do in such circumstances. I'm pro-choice because I don't have the right to tell anyone, especially a woman, what to do with her body. I'm pro-choice because, simply put, it's none of my business. There. I said it. Now I'm going to mind my own business and concern myself with some issues of greater importance to me--like healthcare, education, the deficit, and the war. I've got better things to do than to get riled up over abortion.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Editorial: Social Security/Mis-leadership from Bush

Social Security/Mis-leadership from Bush. From the Star-Tribune, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

The American Empire

History teaches us that the Roman Empire began as a small settlement of people along the Tiber river. What was once a simple settlement grew to a kingdom, democratized (somewhat) becoming one of the world's first republics, and eventually through the rise of charismatic leaders became the empire that controlled most of the western world for hundreds of years.

So what's the point? As many argue that history has a tendency to repeat itself, I can't help but to only somewhat (and very begrudingly) agree that this may actually be the case if we follow the trends of the Roman Empire. America, like Rome, grew from fairly humble beginnings (OK, Rome wasn't ruled by the king of England, but give me some leeway here). Starting from fairly isolationist beginnings, to growth through an expansionist phase, to becoming a world power--America has followed a similar pattern.

For me, the disturbing part of this comes as I consider one of Rome's greatest conquerers, Julius Caesar. Caesar very nearly became Rome's first emperor--had it not been for his untimely death. Historians would argue, with some success, that Rome was already on the path of moving from Republic to Empire as is born out by the rise of Octavius Augustus to Emperor only 17 years after the death of Caesar. However, already being on the path makes it no less disturbing.

Why do I find the legacy of Caesar so disturbing? Consider our current president, George W. Bush. In many ways Bush is similar to Caesar. Bush is a charismatic leader who, in spite of many obvious flaws has been able to successfully convince a majority of Americans to elect him President. The President, however, is not Emperor. But he is likely closer to it than was Julius Caesar. Bush is easily as ambitious as Caesar was and like Caesar, has attempted to consolidate power through fear and military conquest. Bush will never become Emperor. But he has, by using the fear of the American people after 9/11, used the power of the presidency to invade other countries. He has blatantly disregarded the constitution and denied the civil liberties of thousands in the name of national security. He has, in effect, become much like Julius Caesar.

Caesar never became Emperor. But he helped create the conditions that would eventually lead the shift from the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire. Bush has done no less here in America. Should we Americans continue to follow our leaders so blindly, we will likely repeat history. And eventually America will suffer the same fate as Rome.

Hail Caesar.

Straight Out of Fargo

I love this guy! Read this article and check out his show. I'm usually the pessimistic type when it comes to the way the democratic party is run, but "Big Eddie" Schultz gives me hope that common sense may actually make it back into the Democratic party.

MSNBC - Straight Out of Fargo

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Moderate Republican?
Possibly the most intelligent thing with the word "republican" in it. If you've got a few minutes, I'd highly recommend checking this article out. Some interesting points...

Democrats Elect Howard Dean As Chairman

The extreme left wing of the DNC has taken another step to help ensure that no democrat will get elected to any office of national significance. Democrats Elect Howard Dean As Chairman

Welcome to the Blogosphere!

Yes, this is my first forray into the narcissism that is blogging. Do I honestly think that my opinion really matters? Well, not to most people, but I have fun voicing it anyway. In this space, you'll probably read my philosophies on politics, religion(two very taboo subjects, I hear), sports (also taboo unless we're all cheering for the same team), technology (I am a proud geek), and anything else that comes to my mind. If you enjoy my philosophizing or ranting, please feel free to comment. If you don't enjoy them, feel free to flame me as you see fit and go and enjoy your right to read someone else's garbage.