Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Insults Unpunished Here's a blog I enjoyed reading. It's political, it's funny -- well -- it's got to be funny, or we'd all have to go out and get guns. Enjoy.
US Trade Deficit America currently owes the world about $4 trillion. And it keeps rising everyday. That's damn scary when you realize that America is the world's most powerful economy, and it's intricately tied with every first world economy around the world -- if America's economy hiccups, economists around the world wet their pants. So how did America get there? And how is it going to get out? Read the commentary from Robert Kuttner, of BusinessWeek magazine. One thing for sure -- America's current fascination with hunting terrorists, starting wars and building a wall around North America isn't going to help -- a bit more focus on the economy might though.
The Progress ParadoxClick here to order the book from Amazon.com! Here's a review of the Progress Paradox from BusinessWeek Magazine. This is a book that I am a little curious to read, and goes on my wish list, just below the Philosophy of the Matrix -- why below? Because I'm too much of a solipsist to think that the cure for the world's woes lie in everyone else's reality and not mine. I believe damnit! Anyway, the Progress Paradox -- it looks at the belief American's have that the times of the past were the better days -- the book contends that life has never been as good as it is today. The book addresses the general sentiment that the good times are over by looking at: 1) contemporary material life, 2) why people are so unhappy, and, 3) suggestions on how to treat some of the social problems. One of the book's conclusions apparently is that money isn't necessarily everything -- it doesn't guarantee a happy life. This may be more of a startling revelation for Americans than it is for Canadians.

Saturday, December 27, 2003

Bush OKs Cutting of Alaska's Forests Well, if there ever was an anti-environmentalist, it's Bush. Ever since he came into office, his administration has been trying to open the last US old-growth forest -- and they've succeeded. The administration has given permission for the lumber industry to log and develop 300,000 acres of Alaska's Tongass National Forest. What took hundreds-thousands of years to create, Bush took four years of trying to destroy.

Friday, December 26, 2003

Movies I Need to See NOW!
  • LOTR: The Return of the King - and it looks like I'm going to see it today!Click here to go to Movie's Page!
  • Big Fish - well, it's Tim Burton. It's weird. It's wonderous. It has monsters -- and they're the good guys!Click here to go to the movie's website!
  • The Last Samurai - it's a remake of so many Japanese movies and westerns -- how can I resist?Click here to go to the movie's website!
  • Looney Toons: Back in Action - oh, why the hell not?! It's silly ole fun!Click here to go to the movie's website!
  • Timeline - I only saw the trailer for this, but it's SciFi, time-traveling, and looks like good action. Might as well!
  • Paycheck - Philip K. Dick's tale of the future gone bad -- good enough for me!Click here to go to the movie's page!
  • The Steier Striporama Here's a fantastic site of political cartoons done by Elena Steier. Witty and brutal. If your daily newspaper commentaries isn't cynical enough for you, try this one on for size!
    Dumbya.com Here's what Bush has been good for -- entertainment.
    Bush's Deafeat Allows the Environment to Breathe The Bush Administration, among many things, is stupid. Some of the other things they are? Well, stupid ... and stupid ... and hey, stupid too! The administration recently tried to get EPA changes that would allow utilities, refineries and other industrial facilities to do routine maintenance, without having to install additional pollution controls. Talk about duh! At least, not everyone in America is as stupid is the Grand Poobah. Several states challenged the changes in courts and won. The environment can now breathe at little more freely -- for now -- but think America -- think before you decide to re-elect Bush -- the guy's an idiot. The world knows it -- you know it -- it's embarassing!

    Thursday, December 25, 2003

    Guilty of Refusing Queen's Honour This is a good one! Apparently it's a big secret, the list of those who have refused to accept the Knighthood from the Queen -- or the other honours like: the Order of the British Empire, or Commander of the British Empire. That is -- it was secret, until the list was leaked to the press. Naturally, fun ensued!

    Wednesday, December 24, 2003

    Amazon More Than Retail Amazon made a name for being a pure e-tailer, and it looks like this year, it will mature to its first year of being in the black. But what else has Amazon set it's sights on? Software. It aims to be the e-tailer platform of choice -- while its merchandise business is doing well, the company is polishing off the software that has the potential to make its services pitch bigger. On the way, it's co-opting the practices of the open source movement, and winning grassroots friends and free labour. More and more, Amazon is beginning to look like the Linux cult -- and it could make a lot of little guys rich in the process. Read the article at BusiessWeek.
    NAFTA & Mexico Why has NAFTA soured the palates of many Mexicans and a growing number of Latin Americans? Answer: Washington. More precisely, the Bush Administration (yes -- there is nothing that I can't blame on the administration). Mexico's envoy to the UN, Adolfo Aguilar says Washington "isn't interested in a relationship of equals with Mexico, but rather in a relationship of convenience and subordination." Where the US had the opportunity to play big brother to a developing economy, it has turned that relationship, like so many others, into one where it plays the big bully. Bush is only interested in his war, and closing America to the world -- trade is paying the price, and at a time when the US runs a huge deficit that's being bankrolled by foreign banks. Go figure.
    Expensing Stock Options To expense stock options or not? That is not the question. The question really is, 'Should companies be allowed to continue hiding their options expenses from investors?' That's what tech companies want to continue doing with their industry wide lobbying of the US Congress. Their ploy is that it will cost the US jobs to overseas tech companies. Bullshit. THe only way to stem the tide of research jobs is to make it so that the US produce smart, competitive, innovative people with technical background -- yes, I know I over simplify, but so is the argument that expensing stock options allow US companies to keep jobs in the US.
    This is a cool site for graphic designers; Coroflot. It allows people to post up their portfolios and link to their websites. Just an easy way to start things off until you get a real website going.

    Sunday, December 21, 2003

    Beagle for ChristmasClick for a larger image of the Beagle 2 on Mars (artist rendition). The EU will be playing Santa to Mars this Christmas -- on Christmas day, the small probe, Beagle 2, will touch down on the Martian surface. The Beagle 2 will beat two of NASA's probes, Spirit and Opportunity, slated to land in January. The Beagle 2's mission is to look for signs of life on Mars.
    High Tech Cars Here's a quick link to BusinessWeek Online -- a special report about high tech cars, and what we can expect in the near future. Some alternative fuel technologies, Wi-Fi, Satellite Radio, new materials, etc.

    Saturday, December 20, 2003

    Wired News Here's what I found of interest in the last half-an-hour, surfing the Wired site.
  • Flying Saucer - the US Navy is again putting some money behind research into building a flying saucer. This time around, they're funding a Russian group that claimed to have built and tested a flying saucer in the 90s. This is more than just optimizing on the lessons learned from down aliens ;-) -- there's actually some cool physics involved.
  • Kazaa isn't to Blame - here's a shocker for you. A Dutch court threw out a case suing Kazaa for copyright infringement. Apparently, the Dutch thinks software is OK -- what people do with may not be. I like to use the analogy of WMD -- WMDs don't kill people. Saddam does! ;-)
  • Another Blow for the Music Industry - a US federal appeals court threw out a lower court ruling that allowed the RIAA to force ISPs to reveal the identifies of their users. The mass suing of their customers just got a tad harder.
  • Free Your Information - some Universities are betting that 'cheaters can be winners.' Well, cheaters may be too strong a word -- they're encouraging the sharing of information, including academic works, so that they can be modified, or used in the works of others down the road -- like students using the works of students in the past to help them get an A. The idea behind all this is that sharing and cooperation is a lot healthier for society than competition. Looks like people are finally figuring out that 'together we stand, divided we fall,' actually does mean something.
  • Defending the Cows - the US Homeland Security department just allocated $33M to study ways of fending off terrorists from attacking America's food supply. OK, it's a scary thought. But aren't there more pressing concerns where that money could be spent?
  • On a Lighter Side - I always like these little quips from Wired. The latest is about the US holding in custody, three friends who traveled to Iraq to visit its holy sites, and bombarding them with loud rap music for days. Funny thing, the guys like rap -- and didn't complain about it, as the US may have switched to Jazz.
  • GT Ripple Want to say goodbye to that ole boring desktop? Try GT Ripple. It adds nice soothing movement to your desktop. Once you've downloaded and installed the app, you will need to images to ripple. Go here:
  • Visual Paradox
  • Deviant Art
  • Windows Shell ReplacementThis is the Litestep Shell! Got too much time on your hands? Screw with Bill Gates -- change the Windoze shell. These sites are a good place to start your adventure (or to kill your computer).
  • Shell Extension City - gateway to the world of shell replacements!
  • Litestep - the Litestep shell!
  • ShellFront - a place to get the latest on shells!
  • Friday, December 19, 2003

    Classic Games Here are links to some great games -- stolen from PCFormat Magazine -- May 2003 issue.
  • Title: Blow out! Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: BMX Kidz Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Bombscare Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Booty Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Brainstorm Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Byte Bitten Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Carrier Command Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Chicken Chase Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Dark Sceptre Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Dictator Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: European Five-a-Side Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Fahrenheit 3000 Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Gothik Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Gregory Loses His Clock Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Gunstar Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Happiest Days of your Life Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Hive Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: I, Ball Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: I of the Mask Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Imagination Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Intensity Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Jumbly Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Kinetik Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Magnetron Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Mega-Bucks Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Mystery of the Nile Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Olli and Lissa Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Pool, 3D Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Rebel Star Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Rebel Star 2 Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Rick Dangerous Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Samurai Warrior Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Scuba Kidz Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Sentinel, The Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Sidewize Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Spawn of Evil Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Spiky Harold Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Starglider Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Starstrike Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Stock Car Championship Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Stunt Bike Simulator Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Tank Duel 3D Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Tanx, 3D Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Thrust Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Thrust II Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Turbo Boat Simulator Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Viking Raiders Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Virus Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Way of the Exploding Fist + Download: World of Spectrum
  • Title: Wild Bunch, The Download: World of Spectrum
  • Tuesday, December 16, 2003

    A New Wireless Age Another article from BusinessWeek magazine. There's about to be an explosion in the wireless industry. Since the 30s the airwaves have been tightly regulated, but the FCC in the US is about to change all that, and poised to take advantage of the free airwaves are companies touting technologies such as Smart Antennas, Mesh Networks and Agile Radios.
    The Taming of the Internet Another article from BusinessWeek -- Spam! Spam! Spam! Governments around the world are moving to regulate the internet -- in America, legislation already awaits the signature of the President. A lot of the blame goes straight to spammers, who will undoubtedly be left untouched by the illegalities of what they do -- a lot of us however, will see tighter controls over what we do in the office and what we do at home, as corporations assert control over the use of their assets and local ISPs try to stem the abuse of their networks. Try some of these statistics on for size and ask if you wouldn't want something done as well: 10.4 million spam e-mails are sent every minute worldwide; 74% of executives say e-mail is even more vital to their business than the telephone; 80% of the e-mail reaching AOL is tagged as spam and blocked. That's 2.5 billion messages a day. 7% of US web surfers say they have purchased something from an unsolicited e-mail.
    Coming Out in Corporate America An article in BusinessWeek magazine -- even though they comprise 6% of the American population, and are one of the most highly educated minority, homesexuals face stiff discrimation as move up America's corporate ladder. But they are changing the face of corporate America. Openly gay corporate leaders include David Geffen, DreamWorks SKG co-founder, former Quark CEO Tim Gill and Ford Vice-Chairman Allan D. Gilmour. More and more, corporations are instituting policies banning discrimination for sexual orientation in the workplace -- but how much have things changed when 36 states in the US still make it legal to discriminate for sexual orientation in the workplace.

    Saturday, December 13, 2003

    Microsoft's Swastika One of Microsoft's fonts contain the symbol of the swastika. MS quickly released a patch to remove the symbol. I don't get it. The swastika is used in many cultures and was used before Hitler took it, in Asia. That being said, people who take offense to things like that should really think hard about it. We're putting a lot of power into the symbol by denying it. The more we deny it, the more power it has. There is nothing offensive about the swastika -- what's offensive, was what it was used to symbolize. The Buddhist religion uses the swastika to symbolize the footsteps of the Buddha.

    Tuesday, December 09, 2003

    US-Visit Well, nowhere in the US constitution does it say the Americans really have to give a rat's ass about non-American rights -- so, that's exactly what the US government is planning on exploiting with US-Visit -- the biometric database that will be filled with fingerprints and pictures of everyone entering the US from abroad. The plan is to have visitors names and fingerprints rapidly compared with those of known terrorists -- but who's a known terrorist? And what other non-mentionables will the US run visitors against? On one hand I agree with the Americans -- it's their country, so they can decide to welcome whoever they like -- but with the pendulum of American foreign policy, who really knows how the database will be used, and against who? The US makes some interesting friends overseas -- today's known terrorist may just be someone that one of the US government's 'friends' don't like today. Or the US may allow immigrants into the country, and later decide that maybe they shouldn't have when foreign policy has changed. And what happens when those immigrants become citizens of the US? Does that mean there will be one class of US citizens that are free and not in the database, and another that is? Only in the good ole United States of America!

    Monday, December 08, 2003

    Steady Supply From InformationWeek Online -- it looks like it's going to be a jolly season for retailers -- estimates are that retail sales will be up 5.7% this season over last year's, a 3.5% increase that will ring in $217.4 billion in November/December -- at least in the US. But usually the trend in the US gets reflected in Canada. A lot of the increase will come from companies being able to meet consumer demand -- companies that invested in Supply Chain processes and technologies over the last few years will now be reaping the rewards. A lot of those systems and processes are around planning and forecasting systems.

    Sunday, December 07, 2003

    The Rise of IndiaClick for a Pictorial Overview The cover story of the Dec. 8 issue of BusinessWeek magazine -- about the India's growth, its brainpower, and how corporate America is being reshaped. From the 90s, America saw the trend to outsource call centres and development jobs to cheap labour in India. Everyone have heard of the stories of people call help desks and not knowing that the person on the line engaging in small talk is actually have a world away, and has never seen North America. In the 70s and 80s, America saw its manufacturing jobs migrate to Asia (predominantly China), then in the 80s and 90s, it saw it's electronics engineering dominance wrested by Asia (Korea, Taiwan, etc.) -- but as it lost those jobs and underwent periods of pain that saw unemployment as workers were retrained, it emerged with a higher class of employees and jobs -- jobs that offered higher wages, greater benefits, etc. What now however, as India takes on the American service and research jobs? Two paths lie ahead: one that sees America fighting for the lost jobs and making the process painful for all involved; and another that sees the partnership between India and America evolving very successfully, where a huge and cheap talent pool can be tapped to deliver rapidly on innovation, and also growing a nice consumer market that wishes all the trappings of success. The latter is the inevitable path -- consider that the 1.8 million Indian expaexpatriatesrtriates in the US are the most successful group of immigrants to the US -- and now they have their sights set on tapping into the talent they know they've left at home. Consider as well that American businesses see the promise that India holds, and are not about to stop to get there. Lets hope that this story though won't carry as much misery as the manufacturing story, where we saw the evolution of behemoths like Wal-Mart that are sending us down a precipitous path where the final destination is does not appear economically bright. (See also the companion commentaries: Meeting the Asian Challenge, and, India is Raising its Sights at Last.)

    Saturday, December 06, 2003

    Trade War? Since the Bush administration took power, the US has been slowly sliding into protectionism -- 9/11 only served to accelerate the process under the guise of security. As a colleague of mine likes to say, "security has trumped trade." But the 9/11 is now only the latest excuse that Bush is using to reinforce the wall around America -- the economic slump the world has been in, resulting in the loss of American jobs and an upcoming election, has put the Bush administration in the position where short term gains and appearances far outweighed long term stability and growth. Recently, the US has been belligerent in its responses to rulings handed down by the WTO. Granted the WTO has mostly sided against the US in the past, but when you really dig into the heart of the matter, you'll find the US the cause of most of its woes. If it wasn't for American businesses striving to give American consumers the lowest cost at the price of American manufacturing jobs, we would have such huge trade imbalances. Read about the latest squabbles the US is having with the EU and China in BusinessWeek Online.

    Friday, December 05, 2003

    GloFish Ladies and gentlemen -- let me introduce the GloFish. It is a bright red, fluorescent zebra fish that was created by genetically adding a gene found in sea coral to zebra fish eggs. Why? Researchers are attempting to create a fish that glows in the dark when exposed to toxins. Novel idea.

    Tuesday, December 02, 2003

    Supply Chain-Centric WarehouseIntegrated Solutions for Ret@ilers, Dec. 2003. Here's an article that I find quite obvious -- that warehouse management systems need to be supply chain-centric. I especially liked the comments about supply chains not having the store-is-king mentality.

    Monday, December 01, 2003

    The Top GiversBusinessWeek Online - Click to launch a photoessay. Another from BusinessWeek Online -- America's top givers -- the people, who've made the billions, and are giving back during their lifetime. I, like everyone else, like to take a stab at Gates every now and again, but between him and his wife, they've $24,976 million dollars away to charities they support -- that's over 50% of their wealth! After reading this article, I actually felt like rejoining the human race.
    Wal-Mart NationBusinessWeek Online, Dec. 1, 2003. Americans it seems are finally waking up to the horrible noise of the Wal-Mart nation. After decades of businesses working hard to driving costs down, therefore keeping prices down, the downside of the strategy is showing up as a social disaster waiting to happen. Lowering costs to give consumers the lowest price has it costs. Among them is the paying of workers lower and lower wages, the outsourcing of jobs to temps or overseas labourers, and keeping the working stiff just where s/he is, as there is no possibility of career advancement, therefore no hope of ever achieving the American dream. It's a disturbing trend that's not just perpetrated by Wal-Mart, but also other businesses trying to keep pace.
    Next Previous Home