A New Mascot for Facebook

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…

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?

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.

The CIA’s First War?

Update: since I posted this, the video in question has been taken down by 60 Minutes.

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.

Warren Buffett’s Plan to Destroy America

Warren Buffett is famous for not investing in technology companies. So maybe you think that life-long philosophy has changed after hearing Buffett carry on about his $10.7 billion investment in IBM. But I don’t think that Buffett bought the shares because he finally understands technology. Not at all.

Rather, I think Buffett is enamored of the fat profits IBM is making by scrubbing its staff clean of American workers and replacing them with cheap foreign labor. That’s right, Buffett is feeding at the lucrative “Destroy America” trough – one of the most profitable businesses in history.

And no, you will not hear the jolly old grandpa chortling about offshoring profits during any of his CNBC love-fests with Becky Quick. The media blackout of what IBM is doing is incredibly thorough. Not only will the corporate-owned major media not report it, but I haven’t even heard it discussed in the tech media. I read a lot of tech blogs, and listen to a lot of tech podcasts, and…nothing. IBM will eliminate 78% of its American workers in the next few years, and nobody is talking about it? Amazing.

Maybe one day President Obama will ask Warren Buffett to bring back the IT jobs from India, and Buffett will tell him to pound sand, Steve-Jobs style: “Those jobs aren’t coming back.”

To get the story, we must turn to the great Robert X. Cringely:

Not Your Father’s IBM – Excerpt:

“Top management will remain, the sales organization will endure, as will employees working on US government contracts that require workers to be US citizens. Everyone else will be gone. Everyone.”

Something’s Rotten in IBM Dubuque – Excerpt:

“Whenever IBM has a big project they now have to bring in extra workers, usually from India. … They make sure there are never more than two or three workers coming on the same flight, effectively avoiding notice by Homeland Security.”

Magical thinking at IBM – Excerpt:

“Every non-executive job at IBM is viewed as a commodity that can be farmed out to anyone, anywhere.”

How to Fix IBM in a Week – Excerpt:

“A huge threat to revenue is the only way to move IBM in the proper direction.”

We’re All Just Lab Rats to IBM – Excerpt:

“My recent IBM columns have stirred up a lot of interest everywhere except in the press. One reporter called from Dubuque, Iowa, but that’s all.”

By 2015 IBM Will Look Like Oracle – Excerpt:

“…what could be one heck of a class action lawsuit.”