Archive for May, 2012

A New Mascot for Facebook

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

With Facebook shares face-planting 25% since their IPO, I think a new mascot is order. I propose the manatee. We have a lot of rules about the endangered manatee here in Florida, such as this one:

Do not disturb a resting manatee. Sleeping manatees sometimes rest in a “face-plant” on the river bottom, rising for air every few minutes. It is unlawful to interfere with these normal activities.

I did not make that up. Look, there they are, face-planting:

This isn’t a traditional face-plant, but its pretty funny:

Funny Thing About Atlas Shrugged…

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

In both the novel and the movie, Ayn Rand’s industrialist heroes located their plants in the USA. Sure, they grumbled about their unionized workers, but the idea of replacing them with Asian sweatshops could not exist in Rand’s ideology.

Rearden Metal made in China?

I don’t think so.

In fact, Rand spilled quite a lot of ink pouring derision upon the Third World. But what would she think today, now that the Third World has “got religion” – Randian style religion: Capitalism?

Clearly, she would have applauded the collapse of the Soviet Union and the consequent spread of free enterprise around the globe.

But what about the most-powerful capitalist nation of all: China?

I think Rand would be apoplectic over our relationship with China. Rand was a victim of Soviet communism, and striking any sort of deal with an authoritarian government such as the one in Beijing would be out of the question.

Since Rand died before the great Age of Offshoring began, we can only guess at what she would think about so many of our industries moving to China. Or the fact that the US Treasury has become so dependant upon Chinese money that it has given Beijing an unprecedented direct line to buy bonds, bypassing the bond market.

Could Ayn Rand have approved of modern globalization in its current form?

I say no.

Will Australia Stay Conquered?

Saturday, May 26th, 2012

When the news that US Marines would be deployed to Australia hit the media recently, there was quite a lot of criticism. After all, Australia is not exactly one of the global hotspots of conflict requiring pacification. And seeing as how we’re trillions of dollars in debt, you would think that such military adventures might be deemed extravagant.

But Australia is indeed a hotspot – a geopolitical hotspot.

In September 2010, I was jarred when I came across this story of the first-ever joint Chinese/Australian naval exercises. Australia has been one of the USA’s closest military allies for quite a while, and has troops fighting and dying in Afghanistan.

So, what were the Australians doing exercising with the Chinese all of a sudden? Now, keep in mind that while our multinational corporations consider China to be a close ally, even a new homeland, the Pentagon has quite a different view. It considers China to be a rival power in need of containment.

And so the Pentagon responded to the Australians cozying up to the Chinese by deploying troops. I’m sure the Australians gave their permission and all, but you have to wonder if they really had a choice. Australia’s geopolitical situation doesn’t allow it to defy the USA.

The Chinese are apoplectic over this conquest of Australia (see the story here) and they are pressuring the Australians to choose sides.

To assuage the Chinese, the Australian frigate HMAS Ballarat just visited Shanghai. Here’s the welcoming ceremony:

Apparently, there were no live-fire drills this time; just search-and-rescue practice.

This is all happening as we are trying to figure out how to high-tail it out of Afghanistan after getting whooped by the Pashtuns. And there are consequences for loosing a war. When the Arabs saw us bleeding-out in Vietnam, they were emboldened to nationalize our oil properties. When the Soviet Union’s satellites saw the Red Army defeated in Afghanistan in 1989 (by those same Pashtuns!) they got ideas of their own. Two years later, poof!, no more Soviet Union.

Our allies in the western Pacific can see the handwriting on the wall. Economically, they know that they have to switch sides and join the Chinese. But containing China is matter of sea power, which we are very good at, as opposed to fighting shepherds in their mountains – never a good idea for any army.

So, will Australia stay conquered? Maybe in the short-term, but probably not in the long run. Perhaps they will just wait us out. Now that the multinationals have moved all the jobs to Asia, the unemployed American taxpayer can no longer keep the Pentagon in the style to which it has been accustomed. How much longer can it be before the tide of American military power must recede here at the end of this age of imperial overreach?

Note: George Friedman explains Australia’s geopolitical situation here.
Note: Eric Margolis reports on the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan here.

High Frequency Talking

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Want to hear two rocket-scientist programmers discuss high-frequency trading? If so, then check out techzing podcast #185 where Jason Roberts interviews James Thomas of Headlands Technologies.

There are a few brief mentions of arcane topics such as functional programming and the “R” language, but the discussion is accessible to civilians. Too bad Thomas is under non-disclosure and couldn’t tell what he knows about MF Global.

The podcast is 80 minutes long, but you can download it onto your iPod via iTunes. Just search for techzing in the iTunes store.

The CIA’s First War?

Saturday, May 19th, 2012

At the 2:53 mark of the video below, 60 Minutes reporter Lara Logan states about Afghanistan:

“The CIA was given the lead role in prosecuting a war for the first time in history.”

You would be hard-pressed to find a more-pure specimen of propaganda than that. In fact, it would be easier to make a list of the wars that the CIA did not lead.

Of course, there was the CIA “secret army” that invaded Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. Vietnam was a CIA project, and they leaked the Pentagon Papers to put the blame on the Department of Defense.

During the cold war, the CIA’s tentacles spread all throughout the military. And not just our military; many Royal Air Force bases in the UK were really disguised CIA bases. Some probably still are. My favorite CIA war was the attack on Indonesia in 1958. You probably never heard of that one, right?

If the Taliban returns to power after we leave Afghanistan, there will be a scramble to assign the blame. And it looks like the CIA, with the help of 60 Minutes, has begun a covert CYA operation. Note in the video how Crumpton gets in a dig against the DoD for not letting him get the Osama bin Laden collar.