Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hot heads in the clouds mean trouble

Richard Stallman, the theoretician and founder of the Free Software Foundation, says watch out when you're tethered to computers in the cloud.

Cloud computing – where IT power is delivered over the internet as you need it, rather than drawn from a desktop computer – has gained currency in recent years. Large internet and technology companies including Google, Microsoft and Amazon are pushing forward their plans to deliver information and software over the net.

But Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation and creator of the computer operating system GNU, said that cloud computing was simply a trap aimed at forcing more people to buy into locked, proprietary systems that would cost them more and more over time.

"It's stupidity. It's worse than stupidity: it's a marketing hype campaign," he told The Guardian.

"Somebody is saying this is inevitable – and whenever you hear somebody saying that, it's very likely to be a set of businesses campaigning to make it true."

The 55-year-old New Yorker said that computer users should be keen to keep their information in their own hands, rather than hand it over to a third party.

His comments echo those made last week by Larry Ellison, the founder of Oracle, who criticised the rash of cloud computing announcements as "fashion-driven" and "complete gibberish".

Stallman, always interesting.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

When it comes to heart, Troy Brown was one of the best Patriots to wear the uniform

Number 80 retires. Troy Brown was a great athlete not because of his records and talent but because of his restless enobling heart. In announcing his retirement, Brown worn that heart on his Patriot sleeve. A necessary debate should take place on whether the franchise molded the wide receiver or he molded the team that would eventually capture three world championships.
Drafted in the eighth round out of Marshall in 1993, Brown was often the embodiment of the unselfish, team player during his career. While emerging as a go-to receiver by catching 281 passes from 2000-2002, he made the Pro Bowl in 2001. He returned punts and kickoffs. He also bailed the Patriots out on defense by playing cornerback while the team went on to win three Super Bowl titles in a four-year period. He had three interceptions in 2004.
His talent will be missed but his example should be seared into the memory of any authetic football fan.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Mass. high-tech exports on a bumpy road!

The slowdown impinges upon key Bay State sectors. Certainly this is something to watch.
The technology trade association AeA has released Trade in the Cyberstates 2008, its annual national and state trend report on global trade of high-tech products.

Compared to other states, Massachusetts ranks fifth in most high-tech exports in 2007, bringing in $8.7 billion — an almost 10 percent decrease from the $9.6 billion in high-tech exports the state gained in 2006. Leading the export sectors were industrial electronics, in which Massachusetts ranked third in the nation, and electromedical equipment, which the state is ranked fourth in the country. The report also found that Massachusetts high-tech exports added 30,300 jobs to the state.

The state’s $8.7 billion represents 35 percent of the state’s total tech exports. The leading destinations for state exports are Japan, Germany and Canada.

On a national basis, high-tech goods exported had decreased three percent in 2007, which marks 18 percent of the nation’s total exports. High-tech imports to the U.S. had increased 3 percent in 2007.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Nixon's revenge

Can we question their patriotism now? Rosenberg a commie spy. In Cambridge, Berkeley and Port Huron, they are all besides themselves.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

How can this be?

White Demorats have a race problem? Who knew?

The paleo-conservatives unhinged

Pat Buchanan on the march, exposing the atavistic side of Bush Derangement Syndrome.
As the trade deficits began inexorably to rise to 6 percent of GDP, we began vast borrowing from abroad to continue buying from abroad.

At home, propelled by tax cuts, war in Iraq and an explosion in social spending, surpluses vanished and deficits reappeared and began to rise. The dollar began to sink, and gold began to soar.

Yet, still, the promises of the politicians come. Barack Obama will give us national health insurance and tax cuts for all but that 2 percent of the nation that already carries 50 percent of the federal income tax load.

John McCain is going to cut taxes, expand the military, move NATO into Georgia and Ukraine, confront Russia and force Iran to stop enriching uranium or “bomb, bomb, bomb,” with Joe Lieberman as wartime consigliere.

Who are we kidding?

What we are witnessing today is how empires end.

The Last Superpower is unable to defend its borders, protect its currency, win its wars or balance its budget. Medicare and Social Security are headed for the cliff with unfunded liabilities in the tens of trillions of dollars.

What we are witnessing today is nothing less than a Katrina-like failure of government, of our political class, and of democracy itself, casting a cloud over the viability and longevity of the system.

Notice who is managing the crisis. Not our elected leaders. Nancy Pelosi says she had nothing to do with it. Congress is paralyzed and heading home. President Bush is nowhere to be seen.

Hank Paulson of Goldman Sachs and Ben Bernanke of the Fed chose to bail out Bear Sterns but let Lehman go under. They decided to nationalize Fannie and Freddie at a cost to taxpayers of hundreds of billions, putting the U.S. government behind $5 trillion in mortgages. They decided to buy AIG with $85 billion rather than see the insurance giant sink beneath the waves.

An unelected financial elite is now entrusted with the assignment of getting us out of a disaster into which an unelected financial elite plunged the nation. We are just spectators.

What the Greatest Generation handed down to us—the richest, most powerful, most self-sufficient republic in history, with the highest standard of living any nation had ever achieved—the baby boomers, oblivious and self-indulgent to the end, have frittered away.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Maybe we should blame the Fed and its low interest rates

Economists Brian Wesbury and Bob Stein:
"As in the 1980s and 1990s, the roots of our current financial market problems reach back to a period of absurdly low interest rates. In the 1970s, when the Fed held interest rates too low for too long, banks made similar mistakes with their balance sheets--borrowing at short-term rates to make longer-term loans in inflation-sensitive assets.

In this decade, by cutting interest rates to 1%, the Fed caused investment banks to overuse leverage-based strategies. Borrowing short and lending long turned so lucrative that many financial market players could not help themselves. Wall Street based its business model on leveraging up the most leveraged asset on Main Street--housing.

When the Fed pushes interest rates below their 'natural' level, mal-investment always occurs. And in the current case, the mal-investment was a double whammy. Not only did Main Street gorge on real estate, but Wall Street ate it up too. This double set of leverage has blown up because the housing market became overbuilt and housing prices stopped rising.

Mark-to-market accounting exaggerated this process by allowing firms to mark up assets above true fundamental value when the market was strong but is now forcing firms to mark down assets, to below true fundamental economic value."

And now for a little bit of bile

Don't tell socialist Joe Conason, kin of I.F. Stone, that free markets deliver the goods. The idea is just Republican hogwash even though Fannie and Freddie were Gummit Sponsored Enterprises created by politicians to game the mortgage marketHey Joe, are you kidding me?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A libertarian economist reviews Stiglitz's book on the cost of the Iraq War

Fred Foldvary, libertarian economist has a few kind words for Joseph Stiglitz's The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict. Here's a telling passage:
Another factor distracting the public away from understanding the direct cost of the war is that the military operations have been almost entirely funded via a series of “emergency” supplemental spending bills totaling in the hundreds of billions. This budget gimmick makes it possible to avoid painful budget choices since “emergency spending” is exempt from the budget caps designed to set an upper limit on government spending.

The professional budget staff in Congress is therefore unable to do its usual thorough review of the numbers, and there has been little Congressional oversight, since emergency spending takes place mainly outside of the regular budget process. Congress is not blameless in this process, as it has used the war to attach special and local interest spending to war bills with minimal scrutiny, despite the legal requirement to separate war spending from regular defense appropriations. The corruption is spread throughout the government.

Wish you were still here

One of the great keyboardists of my time has passed away. Pink Floyd's Richard Wright lost his battle with cancer over the weekend. The thrust of his melodious work still rings in my ears from my first rock concert at the Boston Garden in the early seventies. He will be missed. But his signature lives on. More here

The next disaster

Robert Higgs: Social(ist) Security is next!

We should be worried about the solvency of Social Security. Yet many people are ignoring this timebomb.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Dinner Jacket Ahmadinejad is coming to New York

He's back. I'm sure this will be an opportunity for the Sainted One to stare down Dinner Jacket and tell him to behave over there in Iran. I'm sure Dinner Jacket will listen as he plans to wipe Israel off the map.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Ex-Clinton Aide: Media Tougher On Palin, Political Players: Former Clinton Chief Strategist Mark Penn Argues The Press Has Lost Its Credibility - CBS

Notable and Quotable:
Mark Penn: Well, no, I think the people themselves saw unfair media coverage of Senator Clinton. I think if you go back, the polls reflected very clearly what "Saturday Night Live" crystallized in one of their mock debates about what was happening with the press.

I think here the media is on very dangerous ground. I think that when you see them going through every single expense report that Governor Palin ever filed, if they don't do that for all four of the candidates, they're on very dangerous ground. I think the media so far has been the biggest loser in this race. And they continue to have growing credibility problems.

And I think that that's a real problem growing out of this election. The media now, all of the media — not just Fox News, that was perceived as highly partisan — but all of the media is now being viewed as partisan in one way or another. And that is an unfortunate development.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Safire's back and he's great

I'd wish he step out of retirement and return to that sluggish excuse of a newspaper, the New York Times. Safire would be worth the price of that fishwrap!

Friday, September 05, 2008

The passing of a great American, wrestler Killer Kowalski

R.I.P. Killer Kowalski
"In the ring he cursed at old women and scared little kids. In private, he wrote poetry and was religious; he practiced vegetarianism and listened to Mozart."

Monday, September 01, 2008

Recently read: James Buchanan, Nobel Laureate in Economic Science (1986)

Worth reading: James Buchanan's essay "Socialism Is Dead but Leviathan Lives On" from Volume 1, The Logical Foundations of Constitutional Liberty.

Notable and quotable:
"The death throes of socialism should not be allowed to distract attention from the continuting necessity to prevent the over-reaching of the state-as-Leviathan, which becomes all the more dangerous because it does not depend on an ideology to give it focus. Ideas, and the institutions that emerge as these ideas are put into practice, can be killed off and replaced by other ideas and other institutions."
Think Putin, I suppose.

Leland Yeager's review of the volume is here.