May 31, 2007
This Times piece would have you feel sorry for Hamas and Fatah as the radical Islamists thrash around in Gaza. This is an unbelievable story devised to make the reader sympathize with Hamas and Fatah as they clash for power as the jihadists infiltrate Gaza and elsewhere. Whether Hamas is or is not a jihadist group is irrelevant. They are terrorists because they kill innocent Israeli civilians using suicide bombers.
And we have two of our Vermont Congressional delegation tramping around the Middle East weighing in on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict criticizing Bush for not doing more to aid the peace process. Please help me understand what it is the U.S. should do that it's not doing? Perhaps they should recognize the Hamas terrorists as legitimate?
The Muslim and Arab world must act to suppress their radical Islamists and those the teach/preach global jihad. Israel should not and will not be eliminated. The wealthy Arab countries should mend its internal conflicts becuase they are targets, too.
May 30, 2007
As used by its supporters, the phrase "Web 2.0" can also refer to one or more of the following:
- The transition of web sites from isolated information silos to sources of content and functionality, thus becoming computing platforms serving web applications to end-users
- A social phenomenon embracing an approach to generating and distributing Web content itself, characterized by open communication, decentralization of authority, freedom to share and re-use, and "the market as a conversation"
- Enhanced organization and categorization of content, emphasizing deep linking
- A rise in the economic value of the Web, possibly surpassing the impact of the dot-com boom of the late 1990s. (This description is from Wikipedia.com, itself a harbinger of the Web 2.0 world).
Social networks is a current buzz term that encompasses sites like MySpace, Facebook, blogs and other 'community' sites where users generate the vast majority of content. This is the outworking of broad-based participation and portends that people who do not participate will be left out of a reality that is exploding across the world. People without the access and skills will be rapidly left behind in the culture, and will be at a great deficit compared to folks who have the skills and access to the Web. It's not these applications that are important, it's the trend they exhibit.
Too many online users are wed to email and sending/receiving information as attachments that are created in PC resident word processing and spreadsheet programs. What we are experiencing in Web 2.0 is a plethora of tools and applications that are Web, not PC, based that require only a browser for interaction.
Success, however defined, in life will depend on whether a person connects to this new online world and uses the tools and applications to make his/her way in life. The future of information technology and access to it will determine whether people succeed on par with driving an automobile today.
Active participation with technology will strongly influence the health of our Chittenden County community.
Vermont's spending per student is # 3 in the U.S. and as % of personal income is # 2.
"When states were ranked by school spending as a percentage of personal income, Arkansas’ proportion was the highest, followed by Vermont, West Virginia, New Jersey and New York."
Meanwhile, Vermont students score in the middle on tests under the No Child Left Behind Act. Yet, the Legislature chooses to do next to nothing to control costs. We are on the road to spending on education far beyond our ability to afford.
Hmmmm... it seems RAID may not be a good solution for consumers. Yet, it seems a reasonable way to go for protecting data on a home computer. No easy decisions. At least, my photos are backed up with ProtectMyPhotos.com and I use Google Docs and Spreadsheets as frequently as I can.
Why home RAID won’t fly by ZDNet's Robin Harris -- Fellow ZDnet blogger George Ou posted this morning on Why dumb-downed no-RAID storage is bad for consumers. With all due respect, George couldn’t be more wrong. RAID doesn’t solve the home storage problem and its usability stinks. The vendors who are backing off from selling or promoting RAID in the home are doing the right [...]
May 29, 2007
RAID storage explained by ZDNet's George Ou -- Since I’ve been doing a lot of coverage of storage technology both for the enterprise and for the home lately, I thought I should give an explanation of what RAID storage is. I won’t go in to every RAID type under the sun, I just want to cover the basic types of RAID and what [...]
This piece by Edmund Andrews points to the big battle ahead as coal, the most abundant fuel in the U.S. by far, becomes a target in the debate for energy independence amidst the furor around climate change.
The debate will pit the need for government subsidies for 'Big Coal' to build coal to liquid fuel plants which would sequester carbon dioxide and the conservationists who simplistically believe that a change in lifestyle by tens of millions of Americans can have a dramatic effect on climate change. (an irrational belief based on the notion that we must 'do something', however ineffective it is)
The truth is somewhere in the middle of these arguments which will pervade Congress soon. We need to conserve energy whenever possible and economically feasible, but that should be an individual choice with various positive and negative incentives by government to help out.
Despite our best efforts, the energy future is one of increasing total demand under any scenario simply because of increasing population and the improving economic conditions of the world's population centers, i.e., China and India. I envision no scenario short of nuclear war or extreme famine where the world's energy demand will decrease. It follows that energy prices will increase with shortages of natural fuels (coal or petroleum or natural gas) or high costs to convert them to usable energy. For the foreseeable future we in the U.S. will be caught in the pincers of higher energy prices and lifestyle changes. Let's hope we can avoid the sort of 'group think' that seems so prevalent on issues that have no easy ( if any) solution, e.g., climate change.
There is a great deal of money to be made by businesses as the conflict unfolds between energy independence and the 'greening' mood triggered by the advocates of controlling climate change. Many smart companies have recognized this, General Electric for one with their Ecomagination thrust, and are adapting their strategies to take advantage of the situation.
May 27, 2007
Kevin Dorn, Secretary of Commerce and Community Development, outlines in this opinion piece some recommendations from a recent report probing the question of why so many young people are leaving Vermont.
These are lofty recommendations but they fail to identify the root causes of the problems. How does Vermont foster a different business climate when our state's current Legislature generally believes that small business is 'good' and big business is 'bad' or a target for unfair taxes? Our Legislative leadership believes that weeks of 'education' about global warming is worthwhile then ends their session by targeting an energy efficiency tax at an already efficient, low cost provider of electricity. The basic message delivered to Entergy and other businesses is: If you are successfully profitable, we will find a way to tax those profits so that we can spend your gains on causes we believe are more worthy. That is not a business-friendly message.
I'm afraid our economic development goals conflict radically with the underlying anti-business beliefs held by many people and reflected in our elected legislators. If the Legislature were serious about developing a pro-business climate, it would spend its energy and efforts to reduce, not increase, taxes on businesses and individuals. The best way for people to create and grow businesses is to let them keep more money that they've earned rather than taxing them to pay for the escalating costs of social services.
I'm afraid that the report's recommendations cited by Mr. Dorn are more eye wash than substance. Until we are willing to fix the underlying policies creating higher costs of doing business and working in Vermont, people will continue to vote with their feet. We were successful in attracting business in the past with the highly successful legislation that attracted the captive insurance industry to Vermont. Have we forgotten that lesson?
"The challenge is to connect with those young people who are ready to 'buy' our product and then make it affordable for them.
While we have an opportunity to reach out to this population, we must also make policy decisions that bend the affordability curve to convince them they can live here.
The report's recommendations include:
Fostering a business climate that will allow employers to pay higher wages jobs and create more opportunities for entrepreneurs.
Reducing the cost of housing for working Vermonters,
Starting a targeted marketing campaign to actively attract people living outside Vermont.
Connecting college students to employment opportunities and working with business to better connect them to educational institutions.
These recommendations form the basis for our plan of action. We now know that Vermont is already a place where young people want to live, work, and raise families.
But it must become a place where they can afford to do so. Our future -- a Vermont of prosperous cities, small towns and villages, and farms on a working landscape -- depends on it.
Kevin Dorn of Essex Junction is Vermont's secretary of commerce and community development "
May 26, 2007
I will write more later, but this piece by a British woman, Melanie Phillips, should be required reading for all Americans. It is right on the money. She says she's a liberal (in the historical sense of the word). In the U.S. she'd be branded a conservative. But any thinking person regardless of political persuasion, should contemplate what she writes to see if it doesn't ring true.
May 25, 2007
Good reporting from the NY Times about the dilemma created by the rise of biofuel use in the U.S. While a powerful high level, philosophical argument can be made about the need to wean ourselves off imported crude oil, the consequence may be a supply crunch that is very likely to substantially increase the price of gasoline or auto fuel equivalents.
Using less fuel is a worthy goal, but will only slow the rate of growth in demand. I foresee no scenario that will decrease the price per gallon. It can only rise as long as supply barely matches demand. In addition to pump prices rising, we may well see increases in the price of food made with corn derivatives.
Meanwhile we have the politicos tramping around the jungle feeding off the frustration of people paying higher prices at the pump. They will accomplish nothing except the perception that they are doing 'something' to protect the consumer. They should know better when the forces in play are way beyond their control.
May 22, 2007
This opinion piece about the risks and dangers of veganism that result in needless deaths of babies and damage to the health of other children is right on target. Fad diets that do not encompass all the foods that humans were designed to eat make no sense.
There are some people with legitimate food allergies that should abstain from the offending foods, but a continuous diet lacking essential nutrients is foolishness or worse.
May 19, 2007
Google must have big plans for JotSpot which it acquired in October 2006 but the delay seems uncharacteristic of Google. I have been following the history of JotSpot and wikis generally because I believe they have enormous potential as a group work environment. Too many people and companies still rely on email with attachments as the only method of internal and external collaboration. A common workspace just makes so much more sense.
May 18, 2007
Here we have an oft considered U.S. ally suggesting that Israel is responsible for the tragic situation in which the Palestinians find themselves. Let's be very clear about this. Israel's right to exist in the land they now occupy has biblical roots. The Palestinians do not accept the fact that they were defeated in biblical times nor in the 1967 war which was initiated by the Muslims bordering Israel.
Furthermore, the United Nations in 1948 determined that Israel be granted a homeland following the Holocaust and the genocide of SIX MILLION Jews, not by Arabs or Muslims, but by Hitler and his "Aryan" cronies.
If Israel is legitimately present on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea (I believe they have an absolute right to exist as a people of God and that this geography is the place where they ought to be.), for the leader of Jordan to suggest that Israel is responsible for the plight of the Palestinians is at best a half truth.
Why does he not publicly recognize that the Palestinians have shown themselves incapable of rational relationships with Israel or unwilling/unable to unite their warring factions?
He talks of peace, that perpetually illusory condition of the Middle East. He had best assist the Palestinians to be rational members of the world community first. Peace may be universally hoped for in this region, but it is impossible without Palestinians universally deciding that they will recognize Israel's right to exist and move beyond hatred and revenge.
I believe firmly that Israel has a right to defend itself and cannot be held responsible for the Gaza mess. They chose to remove themselves from that territory and the result has been chaos as Hamas, Fatah and other groups have clearly demonstrated they are incapable of governing themselves. Israel was wise to leave Gaza. Doing so enabled the world to see that Palestinians are (so far) incapable of unity.
Jordan's King Abdullah would better use his energies to unite the Palestinians rather that think about 'life after peace.' I doubt we will ever see peace in the Middle East because there are spiritual as well as societal forces that suggest it is not in God's plan.
May 17, 2007
In any event, expect dramatically higher prices for electricity five years hence as the demand continues to increase.
May 16, 2007
Sarkozy has his work cut out for him! He seems a realistic conservative who will attempt to shift France from its Socialist underpinnings and pull it out of the doldrums that Chirac seemed to encourage. People will be encouraged to provide for themeselves rather than rely on the government for handouts.
He strikes me as a realistic conservative who will encourage people to use their initiative to improve themeslves and their country. Most of his goals make sense ( except government funding to build mosques!). If he succeeds, my dismay at France and its national ego based on their romantic notion of the past may be lifted.
I'm encouraged by what he says.
"He wants to drive growth by rewarding effort and spurring competition - the kind of market reform undertaken in most EU countries in the 1990s, but which have repeatedly failed in France.
SARKOZY: KEY POLICIES
Exempt overtime (above 35 hours) from taxes and social security charges
Minimum sentences for repeat offenders, tougher sentences for juveniles
Selective immigration that favours arrival of qualified workers
Increase taxes on polluters
Oppose Turkish EU membership
His economic programme includes incentives to encourage overtime - summed up by his slogan 'work more to earn more' - as well as deep tax cuts.
The president-elect wants to reform the benefits system by forcing the unemployed to accept work, and by scrapping the pensions privileges enjoyed in the public sector.
He has also pledged to take on restive state workers by instituting a 'minimum service' for transport during strikes, and by not replacing half the workers retiring from public service.
Mr Sarkozy is tough on crime and illegal immigration, and has promised to create a controversial new 'ministry for immigration and national identity'.
His clear victory has given the lie to those - both on the traditional right and left - who had argued that the French are not ready for root-and-branch reform.
Nevertheless, the contentious nature of his programme suggests bitter battles ahead. "
May 15, 2007
This seems like very important information pertaining to climate change attributed to CO2. If phytoplankton account for 2/3 of the biosphere's uptake of CO2, we'd best be able to know what affect it has under varying conditions before we fritter away a tremendous amount of energy and capital to remediate tiny sources of this gas.
Another much more important aspect of climate change is the Water Cycle. Scientists know very little about the influences of that cycle and it's regulation of the earth's temperature. Water vapor exerts the greatest influence by far of any gas to regulate and determine the temperature of the planet. But much more information is needed about it, too.How can VP Gore and others contend that the" science is settled" about global warming when the affect of these two principal factors are not well understood?
"Scientists interviewed for this article said it's too soon to say whether the more accurate phytoplankton count will be good news or bad news for the global climate's future. But climate researchers will have a more accurate picture once they factor the new phytoplankton model into their estimates, they said.
Phytoplankton perform two-thirds of all the Earth's photosynthesis -- the process by which plants turn light, nutrients and carbon dioxide into food. The amount of CO2 processed by phytoplankton during photosynthesis affects concentrations of CO2 in the water, which determines how much of the greenhouse gas the oceans can absorb."
May 14, 2007
May 12, 2007
Online Ads vs. Privacy - New York Times: "Pretty Cool Hotmapping, a “geo-rectifying” British company, uses spy planes to conduct thermal surveys of some neighborhoods to determine which homes are leaking heat — and therefore, money (hotmapping.co.uk). “Now here’s an invasion of privacy I can really get behind,” writes Chris Taylor, who writes the Future Boy blog for Business 2.0. (blogs.business2.com/futureboy) Local governments post thermal maps on the Web. Blue buildings are “cool,” red houses are “hot,” and wasting energy.
Owners who do not take action “will be shamed in front of the whole neighborhood as energy hogs,” Mr. Taylor writes. “Green action groups will know which doors to knock on.”"
May 11, 2007
Freedom and Unity
Most of us would agree that Vermont is a wonderful place to live. That statement includes a shared set of values exemplified by the generally positive living conditions and natural environment we enjoy compared to other places. What are those ideals that we hold individually and communally that conspire to make Vermont 'wonderful?' They are not always easily identified and our shared and diverse principles often clash with the need to pay for their realization. Our state motto is "Freedom and Unity," those cherished, but not easily reconciled, values of a free society have been sorely tested this year in Montpelier.
Stepping back from the daily media accounts of events for a moment to think about the values on display in the capital, we see them revealed in the issues that received attention amid the myriad decisions in next year's $4 Billion budget. Senator Shumlin and Speaker Symington decided that global warming, physician assisted suicide, and impeaching the President and Vice President were priority issues that consumed weeks of testimony and debate with little result. In the legislative global warming 'group think' exercise the targeted value was the 'Unity' part of our motto. Personal 'Freedom' must be constrained for the common good, i.e., saving the planet with hope, but no evidence, that mankind can reverse climate change.
End-of-life physician assisted suicide advocates believe that individual choice, 'Freedom,' when pain and suffering are present, override the long standing core societal belief in the sanctity of life (Freedom trumps Unity). Resolving to impeach the President and Vice President? Well, that borders on foolishness. Neither Freedom nor Unity was involved. Instead, our Legislative leadership chose to give voice to an ideology over which the legislature had no influence. We deserve better from leaders when so many Vermont-specific issues cry for attention.
Meanwhile, Governor Douglas wisely has charted a course for affordability, tightly controlled education spending and a bold initiative for telecommunications. His values are a healthy economy and reining in Vermont's cost of living so that those of us who believe Vermont is a wonderful place to live can afford it. His healthy economy mantra embraces the 'Freedom' theme. Good jobs and constrained taxes give us the 'Freedom' to pursue our personal goals and spend our own money rather than let Montpelier decide.
Will the diversity of our values be an insurmountable impediment to continuing Vermont's 'good life?' A healthy society must identify and share core values and we must be willing to commit ourselves and allocate our resources on that basis. We can all agree that Freedom and Unity are shared goals until we must decide how to spend tax dollars when the demand always exceeds the supply. The devil is always in the details and core values sometimes succumb to political ideology in spending decisions. Those values of Freedom and Unity should underlie Vermont's policies, legislation, and spending but frequently we seem unable to set the right priorities for the common good. Instead, our lawmakers choose to dole out the limited dollars to the competing agendas of various squabbling advocacy groups. 'Unity,' our common good, is often badly served by compromise and legislators' attempts to satisfy everyone. The result is ever increasing costs, proliferation of bureaucracy and lingering discontent among our citizens. We should seek consensus on the values we hold in common and the priorities will come clearer for devoting resources to the issues because there will never be enough money to meet all expectations. Unless our leaders establish sensible and sustainable priorities with the courage to act on them, I fear more Vermonters will vote with their feet ('Freedom').
Both of my children chose to return to Vermont after living elsewhere. I want their children to have a reason to make our state their wonderful home, too.
May 9, 2007
Kudos for your recent thoughtful and bold commentary in the Freep. I know it's difficult to walk a 'neutral' line with the Legislature and still satisfy your membership on myriad issues, but you (VBR) were right to speak out. For the Legislature to target one company to raise millions for an ill-defined energy efficiency initiative demonstrates the leadership's lack of integrity (Sen. Shumlin in particular). Hopefully, sounder minds and cooler heads will prevail in the final days of the session. Sadly, Vermont's growing reputation as a business unfriendly state is once again on display with this terrible proposal.
By tapping the far left discontent with nuclear power in Vermont and targeting Entergy for a confiscatory tax, Sen Shumlin has all but guaranteed the elimination of our lowest cost source of electricity in Vermont after 2012. Why would Entergy or anyone remain in the nuclear power business here? Of course, that suits many people despite the absence of a plan to replace Vermont Yankee's base load electricity.
Vermont is poorly served by this act, as you have clearly articulated, demonstrating that this Legislative leadership cannot be trusted by the business community.
"Here's your hat, what's your hurry?
Published: Tuesday, May 8, 2007
By Lisa Ventriss
Here's your hat, what's your hurry? That's the message behind Sen. Shumlin's proposal to tax Entergy/Vermont Yankee.
The roundtable agrees that global climate change is a serious problem that, individually and collectively, we must address. And we are on record as stating that we support state policy giving preference to investments in energy efficiency programs and renewable sources of generation as important and, arguably, the first steps we must take to reduce our carbon footprint. We also believe, however, that it is not realistic to rely on efficiency and renewables alone when existing contracts for Vermont Yankee and Hydro-Quebec expire and the state will need to procure power from conventional sources of generation.
To that end, we commend the Legislature for the important work it has done this session to address the problem of climate change. Funding of these programs remains the point of controversy, and Sen. Shumlin's proposal to levy a 35 percent gross revenues tax on Entergy/Vermont Yankee is not only poor energy policy, it is poor economic development policy.
We already know that nuclear energy is clean, reliable, and inexpensive; it represents 1/3 of our electricity supply; and the most aggressive renewable energy portfolio cannot approach replacing this base load power. Nuclear energy is one of the reasons we are the lowest carbon-emitting state in the union; it is the backbone of our portfolio. To levy a new tax on one corporation, Entergy, in effect showing them the door, is a shot across the bow of the business community in and outside of Vermont. It says, Vermont cannot be trusted.
As I talk to business leaders around the state who tell me that they are actively discouraging other national and international enterprises from locating here, I can only cringe at how these new headlines are being received.
We need Entergy/Ver- mont Yankee -- and all businesses -- to be profitable and committed to staying in our communities and our state. Not only is Entergy/Vermont Yankee the lynch-pin of the Southern Vermont economy, but it pumps $80 million into the state's coffers. If Entergy were to leave Vermont, the new wounds we suffer will have been self-inflicted. Not only will the reliability and cost of future energy supply be in question, but also the state's effort to further reduce our carbon footprint. And, most discouraging of all, our children's future employment and quality of life choices will deteriorate.
It isn't just a bad policy alternative; it's a dangerous one. We must work together to find an alternative funding mechanism for the efficiency programs that is fair, predictable and sustainable over time, one that does not adversely impact the negotiation of future power contracts or cast a shadow over Vermont's business climate.
Lisa Ventriss of South Burlington is president of the Vermont Business Roundtable comprised of 112 CEOs of Vermont's most active and committed businesses and employers. "
May 7, 2007
Wired but not Web 2.0? That's normal, study says | CNET News.com:
"Connector (7 percent)
Mostly female thirtysomethings who have been online since the early 1990s and have a fully loaded cell phone or smart phone. They are happy to use the Internet, usually via Wi-Fi, from either device as a place to manage content and connect for work, community, family, hobby and entertainment interaction. They are twice as likely to blog or have a Web page than the average American."
May 4, 2007
May 3, 2007
Does this mean that piracy wins and that digital intellectual property, particularly entertainment content, has no realistic protection? Why does this attitude by so many thousands of Internet users prevail? Does stealing (piracy have different meanings depending on what's stolen? Perhaps this thievery has taken on the attributes of a 'little white lie.' Or, perhaps they have a Robin Hood complex.
Because no one seems to be visibly hurt by this theft (because the target is BIG media), does that make it right? Or is it that the little guy gets and opportunity to stick it to the 'Man,' including the U.S. Government and the laws it enacts?
If that's the attitude, perhaps the thieves embrace anarchy, too.