Archive for 'thoughts' Category
The last time around, towards the end of the 90s, we saw companies build out the DotCom era on such flimsy business plans as shipping dog food for free with no actual profit margin. Investors poured billions of dollars into these companies seeking magical revenues. Of course the whole thing exploded because it was magic, not real.
Now we’re seeing it again. Facebook is about to go public and folks are saying it is worth billions and billions of dollars. That’s fine, though I’m skeptical. But now Facebook is buying a little photo sharing app called Instagram for about a billion dollars. So now the company that is probably over valued is buying another little company for far more than it is probably worth. Seriously, buying a photo sharing application for a billion dollars is ridiculous.
I’m seeing the next DotCom explosion, and this time it looks like it is at least partially self-funding. This seems far more dangerous to me than the last time around.Comments Off | Catergorized: grrr technology thoughts
From a meeting today. I’ve modified the quote but the idea is the same. “Pessimism is an emotion. Optimism is willpower.”3 Comments | Catergorized: thoughts
An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
… So does a shotgun.Comments Off | Catergorized: thoughts
ХудожникThis weekend I went for a walk with Ainara along Valencia Street. There were several Greenpeace folks canvasing for signatures. I blew them off in my usual way: spoke bad English in a foreign accent. Afterwards, though, I wondered why they bothered trying to get signatures in San Francisco.
San Francisco has a reputation for being liberal. While it is in many ways, we aren’t nearly as liberal as people outside of the city think. Sure, a lot of people smoke pot and we have a lot of crazy people here, the hippie history and all that rot but… We’re more libertarian in many things than liberal. You live your life how you want and so long as you don’t bother me then, well, have fun.
Still, trying to get signatures for a liberal cause here is like a Mormon going to Utah to try and convert people. Most are just going to ignore you or find you a bit ignorant for your misdirection. What you aren’t going to do is find many converts. It reminds me of what my friend, Sean, said about when the Prop8 opponents were doing. They were all along the coast in the more liberal areas trying to get people to oppose the passage of a law that would deny civil liberties. What they should have been doing was going to the heavily conservative center of California and trying to get signatures there.
These Greenpeace folks were doing the same thing. Why are you here in San Francisco? Go to Fresno. There you will have people to actually convert to your cause. And if they reject your position and give you good reasons why you just might have to think about what you’re doing.1 Comment | Catergorized: grrr political thoughts
I realize I haven’t posted much in quite a while. This doesn’t mean I’ve been sitting around doing nothing. I’ve read a lot of articles that I’d love to post… I just never get to it. I have noticed that, in one form or another, they seem to deal with the wealth inequality in America (which is even more inordinate in comparison to the rest of the world). Things like how the wealthy get various government handouts or how the wealthy think they are brilliant innovators and wealth creators (and some, but probably not most, are) but that they have more in common with psychopaths. I find this interesting considering the corporations they run have already been diagnosed as psychopathic.
I just wish I had time to read more books…Comments Off | Catergorized: life political thoughts
I haven’t had a lot of time to write recently, neither here on the blog nor with my story writing. Sometimes I find this frustrating because there’s a lot I’d like to be doing but reasons, taking care of my little girl Ainara and my wife Rosa, are so worth it.
In the meantime I’ve been watching with interest the Occupy movement taking shape and developing into a national phenomenon. This leaderless, agenda-less movement is a manifestation of people’s inordinate frustration with how things are going in America right now, especially economically. Thus it’s no surprise that the movement started in New York City, our financial capital, and spread around the country. We even have it going on in San Francisco.
The people participating have been called mobs, thugs, malcontents, punks, freeloaders and many other, worse, names. Certainly these kinds of people are participating, but they are a minority. The majority of people are just like you and me, worried about our future as a society when corporations and politicians seem to be in cahoots to help themselves as they like and ignore “we the people”. They are calling themselves the 99% because the 1% of Americans control a vast majority of American capital, power and influence. For a republican democracy this is wrong.
I support them.
This movement’s slogan seems to be, “I am the 99%” and I understand that. I don’t know if I could honestly say I am one of the 99%, though. Better that I say I am the 0.0000003%. That’s what I am, approximately, as a percentage of the United States population. That’s what we all are, regardless of our wealth, our skin color, our beliefs, education, age or abilities. It reminds me of a cornerstone of American culture, actually… “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Further, from the same document, “…when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
99% is not enough. 0.0000003% is a beginning. Join up; we need a revolution.Comments Off | Catergorized: life political thoughts
Though it’s not an official Memorial Day, it is September 11th. Looking back at my posts from 10 years ago (I had barely started this site) I remember how anguished I was, yet how temporarily unified we were as a people. Now I wonder if the only thing unifying us is that that day sucked and that it changed everything. Aside from that it seems we barely have anything to show for it. We’re polarized like I can’t even remember. We have airport security that’s more show than security. Our taxes, better spent at home, have been used to fund two wars abroad (one of them under false pretenses). We’ve strained the economy to the point they are saying it’s as bad as the Great Depression (though I think the Depression was much worse). Has anything, one single thing, gotten better? It seems the answer, for America, is no.
So on to more positive musings. My wife, Rosa, is Catalan and today is the National Day of Catalonia. It’s also the due date of our first child, though she’s being shy and hasn’t graced us with her presence. Soon! Finally, Rosa’s parents are visiting for the birth (their first time out of Spain) and today is their 40th wedding anniversary. We’re all having a good time tooling around San Francisco (slowly, on account of a giant bubble on Rosa’s belly) and we’re looking forward to having the Little Monkey and relaxing, as a family.
These are the memories I would rather have: watching my parents-in-law touch the Pacific for the first time, watching my wife’s belly move when the baby moves, seeing my family on Skype which cuts the distance from them to me, seeing my friends do well and prosper. Let’s remember the events of 10 years ago, but let’s also find a way to move forward in a way that increases life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. After all, that’s the promise of America.Comments Off | Catergorized: family kids life thoughts
One Texan in the London office of MSNBC asks, would it be so bad to issue guns to the bobbies to quell the rioting and looting that happened there recently?
Yes, there’s an argument for unarmed police, and yes the British police do have an armed unit, but I’m not going to get into the minutiae. I just want to know, what’s so bad about a show of force in the form of a gun?
I mean, you don’t see anything like this kicking off in Texas, do you?
There are so many things wrong with this premise.
First of all, you don’t see things like this in Texas because, while it’s true the police in America are armed, so is the citizenry. The Second Amendment was put in place partly so that if our government turned to despotism the citizens could rise up effectively. I believe, morally, that if you’re going to allow your police forces to have guns, you must allow your citizens to have them, too. Not that people need them, but there is good reason to allow it. Bear in mind I’m not even pro-gun; I think too many people here in America get them for no reason at all. I see no reason to have one myself, though I will say I would like to learn how to use one someday (though at four decades of age this is a low, low priority).
In the meantime, in what looks like data from 2004, 1364 were murdered in Texas by handguns. That puts Texas alone in 14th place in murders per capita for States. England and Wales, in 2008/2009 had 651 homicides (I assume that’s all homicides, not just with guns). Maybe it’s a good thing for the British not to run around willy-nilly with guns (whether the police or the citizenry).
There could be completely different reasons for the lack of riots and looting in Texas, as well. In America, unfortunately, we are a bit jaded by police killing someone (deliberately or accidentally, whether the person was innocent or guilty). Also, our rate of unemployment is much lower than in England, especially for young people. This was a vector contributing to the incidents in London recently.
Would arming the police have made a difference? Possibly. The Texan wonders what would be wrong with a “show of force” but this implies that the police would be willing to pull the trigger. Personally, while I deplore the violence that ensued, I think the police showing up with guns would have made the matter worse. London is not Texas, even if there is a London, TX. This guy might as well ask if the murder rate in Texas would go down if everyone in Texas gave up their guns; it’s just not culturally conceivable so don’t be an idiot and wonder about it.Comments Off | Catergorized: grrr rights thoughts
Dear Mr. President and members of Congress,
Our national debt is a cancer.
If a person had cancer then any doctor would recommend treating it immediately. Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and other treatments are not comfortable. They are painful. Yet they must be done. Cutting our national debt, even stopping it from growing, will be painful. Mr. John McCain thinks Americans voted Republicans into office to prevent tax increases. You are wrong, Mr. McCain. You were voted in to create solutions. Now quit fucking around with the future of America and DO THE HARD WORK. DO THE PAINFUL BUT NECESSARY THINGS. Get off your asses and do the right thing.
Our national debt is a disgrace and it will herald problems you can’t even imagine. The debate has turned into negative polemic and no one is putting forth realistic solutions. While the Republicans are rightly saying spending must be curtailed (though only against things they don’t like which is wrong) they are also against any sort of tax increases.
Spending decreases and tax increases must go hand in hand. Cuts must be made across the board, including sacred doves like the military. Consider a simple 20% cut across all levels and in all government sectors. That would reduce our $3.82 trillion spending to right around $3 trillion. Meanwhile increase revenue through taxes and other means by 20% and the $2.17 trillion in government income goes up to $2.6 trillion. Those base numbers are from here.
A $400 billion deficit is much more manageable than the estimated $1.48 trillion. It could be reduced further if the upper echelons of government took a voluntary pay cut, such as to the national individual average (maybe that will motivate you to improve American’s lives a bit). It could be reduced even further by canceling waste, selling hard assets (heck, selling a dozen F-16s at $10 million a pop to our allies would cover a huge portion of it!) and create legislation to stop your pork spending.
If I were diagnosed with cancer I wouldn’t sit around and hope the cancer just went away. I wouldn’t slap a bandage on it. I would go after it, aggressively. I would hate my doctor if only because I hate surgery and all the rest, but I would do it to save my life; in the end I would appreciate that doctor, more than I would be able to express in words. I want to live so I can see my daughter grow up, to help her through life and teach her the values that matter.
America is that patient, and America has been diagnosed with the cancer of national debt. Now be good doctors and do the right thing.
Following yesterday’s post about my first walking day through Toronto… There are a few points I missed, forgot or misunderstood. Incidentally, for those interested, I have limited internet access and cell phone usage (roaming international fees apply) so I’m only publicly available at limited times…
People in Toronto are extremely friendly. It’s almost a stereotype that Canadians are friendlier than Americans, and my experience here bears that out. For example, yesterday morning our Second Cup server, Rosita, gave us a free muffin. Maybe because she and Rosa had the same name. Last night before bed Rosa and I had something to drink in the Library Bar downstairs in the hotel and our server gave us a box of biscotti after Rosa said she loved them. People are also just friendlier, saying hello and bothering to give you the time of day. It’s nice. I kind of wonder if it’s because this area is also part of the North American MidWest as my memories of being in Ohio and Michigan are similar (though possibly not as accurate since it’s been a long, long time since I spent time there).
I think what bothered me about the University area yesterday was simply the lack of people. It is summer so most of the students would be away on break. I’m going to assume that’s what it was.
Rosa and I had dinner at the Elephant and Castle and sat outside at 9PM and it was still warm and daylight. It’s something we don’t get to experience much in San Francisco and of all things this is one that helps it feel like we’re in another place entirely.
There were a ton of people on the street asking me to sign petitions. In San Francisco I avoid them by putting on a Scottish/Irish accent and telling them I can’t vote or am simply not from the area. I did the same yesterday and realized when I finally saw Rosa at 6:30PM that I’d spoken more “Scottish” than “American” all day long. Kind of scary since the longer I hold an accent the harder it is for me to drop it. I don’t think Rosa minds, though. Also of note was the number of people handing out samples of various product. Clearly Toronto is considered a prime market for testing new products. As they say in New York City: if I can make it here I’ll make it anywhere… I find it an interesting sign and indicator of success in a local economy.
Finally, I realized I was a few streets off of the main “drag” strip of the gay district, so there’s probably actually an area still much more like the Castro than I suspected. I’m not sure if we’ll be heading back up that way, though, so I’m not too worried about missing it.
I’m about to leave for the St. Lawrence and Distillery Districts after some quick errands. I’ll write more later today or tomorrow!3 Comments | Catergorized: life thoughts travel