Last Night's Presidential Debate 
Saturday, September 27, 2008, 01:07 PM
The primary debates were largely hosted by cable news hacks, anchors who were unable to hide their partisanship long enough to fairly moderate an exchange of policy views. It is fitting then, of sorts, that the first general election Presidential Debate was hosted by Jim Lehrer with the solemn dignity so is so often lacking of late from the news business. It will be good to see Tom Brokaw on the next debate.

Overall I was rather disappointed, especially on the economic issues. Both candidates were asked point blank whether or not they supported the economic bailout plan. Obama answered his response in a manner that made it sound like he took the plan as a given, but skirted giving a concrete answer by saying he hadn't seen the actual language. That's rather funny, because Secretary Paulson's overview of the plan he drafted is two (2) pages long. McCain wouldn't give a solid answer either, providing instead a dismissive "yes" as he moved on to another question.

There was a real leadership opportunity here to come out in favor of what is by all rights a plan of last resort, or to clearly indicate the flaws in the plan and propose an alternative. Imagine if one of the candidates had said "I solidly support this plan as critical to restoring the health of our financial system and challenge my opponent to put partisan considerations aside and act swiftly to bring stability to our nation's financial markets."
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On Promoting the Occurance of the Moral Hazard 
Tuesday, September 16, 2008, 09:18 PM
I tempted to -- but will refrain from -- delving into a detailed rant on the recent actions by the Fed and Treasury. I will, however, steal a couple lines from friends of mine:

Eric Yao:
I didn't know that AIG's insurance company was the Federal Reserve.

My father:
And they didn't have to pay any premiums

Me:
...because the taxpayers were footing the bill.

The real problem here is that there is now no consistent standard for who is going to be bailed out -- it's just a giant guessing game.
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On Necessity 
Tuesday, August 19, 2008, 04:22 PM
So this guy develops this tool that "automatically steals IDs of non-encrypted sessions and breaks into Google Mail accounts." He's an academic (of sorts) and so naturally he presents his findings to the general public so that Google can fix itself and so that we can all be more careful.

So far so good. Two weeks from now, however, he plans to release a pre-compiled easy to use version of this tool to the public. To which I respond: Is this really necessary? Is this the only way to prove a point, or does he just think it's funny when people's accounts get hacked?
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Helping People Starve 
Thursday, July 17, 2008, 05:39 PM
A few short years ago, ethanol (a corn based substance that can be added to fossil fuels and burned) seemed like a solution on the road to independence from foreign oil. Simply take corn, which the country was growing plenty of, and turn it into gasoline.

Today people around the world are starving, and many countries are experiencing food riots as the price of corn and other grains skyrockets. Congress' (and Obama's) solution? The highest ethanol production mandate in history, all of it (of course!) taxpayer funded because ethanol isn't currently economically viable. That's right folks, your tax dollars are being spent on making sure more people than ever starve because they can't afford to buy food.

Now, the NYT reports the most recently American economic casualty of this special interest driven agenda, conveniently located in the economically depressed Mississippi Delta. We'd all like change we can believe in -- and I'm sure the poor folks caught up in the mess certainly believe they lost their jobs -- I'm just not sure it was the sort of change they were looking for.
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Arrogant Apple 
Thursday, July 17, 2008, 03:34 PM
Apple, the maker of the iPhone and other gorgeous products that are wonderfully easy to use, has over the years gathered quite the reputation for arrogance. I grew up using Macs, and still own an Apple laptop, but over the years their business practices have come to grate me more and more.

First, let’s go back to the days of the Mac clone, which Apple used in an attempt to increase market share. Several companies launched with their sole product being Mac clones. As the development of the next generation of processor came into view, excitement built among consumers and business partners. This is when Steve Jobs broke into the picture, shouted “SUCKERS,” and announced to Apple business partners that he would not license the next chip model, the G3 (or the next OS, MacOS 8). Macintosh Clone companies, such as Power Computing, found themselves without a business future and Apple was able to snap up Power Computing for a bargain price.

More recently, Apple fraudulently backdated the dates on stock options granted to executives. What is this fraud? Because when companies give stock as compensation they get a tax write off based on the current value of the stock. If I’m going to give someone 200 shares anyways, why don’t I pretend that I gave them the shares three months ago when stock prices were higher so that I can get a bigger tax write off. The only problem is that this is patently illegal. Interestingly enough, Apple admits Steve Jobs knew about this and even recommended dates, but then contended he wasn’t culpable because he didn’t directly profit from these illegal acts. No, only the company he owns stock in profited.

And now, we have the case of Safari for Windows. Not content to allow users to intelligently choose where or not to install Safari, Apple pops up a “Software Update” dialogue for users who already have iTunes or QuickTime installed. This “update” then updates your computer with brand new software. To make matters worse, Safari has several known critical security bugs, one of which Apple has arrogantly refused to patch. In one security breach known as the carpet bomb flaw, a malicious website can download files to your desktop without your permission. Apple’s response? This is an “inconvenience” that they’ll patch when they feel like, but it’s not a security hole because they say it’s not.
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Does This Make Me Look Fat? 
Thursday, June 26, 2008, 02:37 PM
No, that's not a contributing factor.
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On Deliberately Missed Opportunities 
Wednesday, May 21, 2008, 07:08 PM
The NYT reports that Israel and Syria have begun peace talks, mediated by Turkish officials. This is a major missed opportunity on the U.S.'s part -- mediating peace talks between Syria and Israel would give us a major boost of credibility among Arab states and could help us bring Syria into a useful role in Iraq. Instead, the administration has strongly opposed negotiating with Syria and has been shouting that talking our enemies is appeasement of the same order as Neville Chamberlain's Nazi appeasement (Chamberlain gave away half of Czechoslovakia, which is a tad different than merely talking).
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Gayborhood 
Thursday, April 10, 2008, 07:16 PM
To its advertisers Facebook, the online social networking site and anti-social time sink, markets itself as intelligently targeting ads based on the information in your profile. I was impressed until, despite being listed as "interested in women," I found two shirtless men to left of my screen inviting me to become their "gaybor." Apparently, I'm not alone in the struggle:
But this morning - hand to God - the bond of trust was broken. I woke up completely baffled to see the following ad on my profile:

"Lonely? Have herpes? Come to the largest dating site for people with herpes! As featured on CNN.com."

No. No. NO.


Kirk Cooper goes on to explain his quest to discover how the Facebook ad machine really works, in much greater humor than I could ever summon.
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Burma 
Thursday, April 10, 2008, 03:17 PM
The Economist talks about post-protest Myanmar and takes the military dictatorship to task, now that the afterglow from opening fire on unarmed Buddhist monks has faded:
But a few months on, the generals appear as immovable as ever... A squall has been weathered, and they can return to what they do best: wrecking their country and making a good living out of it.

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Apple 
Tuesday, April 8, 2008, 02:02 PM
Via Slashdot:
iPhone developers enrolled and active in the iPhone OS 2.0 beta program got a nasty surprise today when Apple inadvertently 'expired' the recently released version. While for a beta program this typically would not be an issue, Apple has yet to release a new deployment of the iPhone OS. So developers like myself who use their iPhone for both actual phone and iPod use are bricked. Of note, this particular expired build is just 11 days old.

"Whooops!" said Apple. Or more likely: "hahaha, SUCKERS!" After all, who wants a bunch of developers with their pesky little applications running around your device, providing features that users claim they "want." I'm APPLE and I tell you what you want.
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