November 29, 2010

T.S.A. Furor Gives Media a False Positive - The Media Equation -

A lot to chuckle about in this story by Carr. The media, social and mainstream feeding on itself.

"The pat-down story was the equivalent of vaporware — it seemed as if something huge was about to happen, but it turned out that it was a story about a story, the noisy, fervent sound of a news system feeding on itself."

November 27, 2010

What to Expect from Verizon's LTE Roll-out

I have thought all along that Verizon's LTE roll-out would see the marriage of Verizon and Apple around the iPhone and likely the iPad (version 2 due in 1Q2011). Verizon has and will embrace the best device technology that comes along because it means revenue for both the device maker and Verizon. How much for each becomes merely a matter of negotiation and deal-making.

"But the big question for Verizon's LTE network isn't whether it will support smartphones in the first half of 2011 but whether it will finally land an LTE-capable version of Apple's popular iPhone. Although rumors of a Verizon iPhone have swirled for years now, Hays thinks that Verizon's LTE launch would be the perfect setting for Apple to debut a new iPhone model.

'It's quite likely that Apple will seek to take advantage of Verizon's 4G network,' he says. 'Having an LTE-enabled iPhone and adopting new technology early would fit squarely with Apple's overall strategy.'"

November 24, 2010

U.S. to Send Carrier for Joint Exercises Off Korea -

TeamObama has few good options with North Korea. They are in a similar situation as both Bush and Clinton. Nothing seems to work. North Korea and the rogue nuts who run the country always have the advantage because they can do nearly anything they want to provoke South Korea, the U.S. and the neighbors in the region with impunity.

China loves that its ally jabs one stick after another into our side and they do nothing to prevent the craziness.

I'm sure the military has a strategic war plan for North Korea. The problem is no one wants to use it because the downside is too awful to contemplate. The North Koreans know this and play it for all it's worth.

Eventually, the people are likely to revolt but the army supports the nutjob leaders because the troops are well-fed and taken care of compared to the rest of the population. This cannot go on indefinately.

I wonder where North Korea got all the new centrifuges for enriching uranium? Did they build them or buy them? If they bought them, who sold them? So much for sanctions and embargoes. Has the media followed up on this? Perhaps I missed it.

November 15, 2010

Web-Based Email Market Share

Now we'll wait for Facebook to enter the fray. Thanks to ZDNet for the graphic!

Review & Outlook: Embarrassment in Seoul -

Given the U.S. slapdown at Seoul's G-20 meeting, it's pretty clear that TeamObama's policies have been soundly rejected. Both TeamObama's political and economic calculus seem to be failing.

What will be his reaction to the Deficit Reduction Commission's recommendations? We'll know soon when the final report is released on December 1, 2010. Regaining economic vitality is impossible without a resurgence in confidence by Americans. TeamObama and Congress must show that they understand and will act on reducing the size of the deficits and debt, rather than embrace the ridiculous spending surge, as an essential step in restoring that confidence.

The WSJ piece concludes:
"None of this should be cause for celebration, because a world without American leadership is a more dangerous place. The U.S. is still the world's largest economy, the issuer of its reserve currency, and its lone military superpower. No other nation has the will or capacity to lead the way the U.S. has for 70 years, so faltering American influence will produce a vacuum in which every nation can seek narrow advantage.

If Mr. Obama wants to restore his economic leadership, both at home and abroad, he needs an urgent shift in priorities. [emphasis added] Strike a deal with Republicans to extend the current tax rates across the board, pursue the spending cuts proposed by his own deficit commission, end the regulatory binge that has constrained America's animal spirits, stop trying to direct capital toward political mirages like 'green jobs,' and press Congress to pass the Korean and other trade pacts.

The world will follow American leadership again only when it sees policies that restore robust U.S. economic growth."

5 Tips for Searching Gmail -

Five tips for effective searches in Gmail.

November 12, 2010

Who Owns and Controls Personal Information & Identities

My position: I own any data that I choose to share with any organization. A company or organization that unduly restricts my access to it or my free choice about how to share it is evil.

This excerpt form The Economist story:
"Both Google and Facebook are run like absolute monarchies in which hundreds of millions of users (digital serfs, some might say) have created identities. Rather like mercantilist countries in the offline realm, both companies operate policies to protect this asset. Google stoked the trade war because it wants to add what it calls a “social layer” to existing products such as picture-sharing and e-mail, making it look more like Facebook. It would help Google if users could bring their contacts to its services from other sites. But Facebook, the world’s biggest social network, wants to keep control of its serfs’ data and therefore stops them exporting contacts easily."

November 11, 2010

Deficit Panel's Leaders Push Cuts -

Kudos to the Deficit Commission. They have put on the table, at least in draft form, a realistic approach to what must be done. You know it's good work when the special interest groups are immediately outraged.

TeamObama has a big test coming once the commission issues its final report on December 1, 2010. Will this opportunity to lead be seized or squandered?

"...Sen. Gregg said that overall, federal spending takes a bigger hit in the plan than taxpayers do. The plan's goal is to reduce federal spending and federal revenues to 21% of gross domestic product. Federal revenues currently are projected to be about 19% of GDP in 2015, and outlays about 23%.
It would seek to achieve the pullbacks through a mix of spending cuts and increasing tax revenues—about 75% in spending reductions and about 25% from the tax side.
If the plan was adopted in its entirety, it would reduce the deficit to 2.2% of gross domestic product by 2015, exceeding the target set for the panel by the White House of lowering the deficit to 3% of GDP...."

November 10, 2010

Northern New England Politics

Vermont has elected a Democrat governor, a Republican Lt. Governor, a Democrat Attorney General, a Democrat Secretary of State and retained solid Democrat majorities in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Meanwhile New Hampshire has turned decidedly Republican. From the Manchester Union Leader:
New Hampshire voters elected 19 Republican state senators out of a possible 24 -- the biggest Republican Senate majority since 1962. They elected Republicans to nearly 300 of the 400 state House seats, according to preliminary returns. And they elected Republicans to both U.S. House seats and the one U.S. Senate seat up for grabs. The lone bright spot for Democrats was the survival of Gov. John Lynch, who again campaigned as a moderate, pro-business, anti-spending executive (in other words, a Republican).

Likewise in Maine, Republicans surged to power. They now have control of both branches of the Legislature and a new Republican Governor.

Vermont, now a very 'Blue' state under full Democrat control, will confront the budget shortfall of $100+ million and will have no opposition to its policies.

Observing and comparing the approaches taken by Maine and New Hampshire, now much Redder states, will be a fascinating exercise. My prediction: Vermont will raise taxes and do little to cut spending during the next biennium. The best we can hope for is an improving economy which will produce better paying private sector jobs since Vermont's unemployment rate is 5.8%, but it won't be the government creating them. Maine's rate is 7.7% and New Hampshire's is 5.5%

November 8, 2010

Dollar Leakage Spurs Growth Elsewhere -- Seeking Alpha

Dollar Leakage Spurs Growth Elsewhere -- Seeking Alpha

A sensible evaluation by Steven Hansen of the Fed's recent decision, called QE2 (Quantitative Easing, Round 2 [round 1 was TARP]) to buy $600 billion in U.S. Treasury securities during the next 6 months as an attempt to stimulate the economy.

There is widespread disagreement about this Fed decision which was opposed by one of the Fed's board of governors.

Countries such as Germany and China are opposed to what amounts to a devaluation of the dollar by printing money.

If that's not what's going on here, what is?

Hansen says:

"...I was trying to grasp the beneficiaries of this QE2, and could only think of the USA equities market and forex / commodity traders. The belief by many is that the dollar will weaken, and companies with a global footprint will have significantly higher international profit growth (as expressed in USA dollars).
Of course, this line of thinking requires the fundamental belief that other currencies and governments will stand stand idly by while their currency strengthens and their perceived competitive advantage is whittled away. It is much more likely a currency / economic war will follow than foreign countries remaining passive to USA's quantitative easing.
It is fairly easy to identify who will suffer with the current Fed policy:
  • the old who lived on social security, bond yields and the income from their CD's (CD yields are now so low they will barely purchase a six pack of beer); and,
  • the underfunded pension funds who are now denied any low risk fixed income opportunities.
So the burden of this low interest rate policy is being carried by the old (retired) and the boomers (near retired). Our old fashioned retirement income schemes are in the toilet. In theory, it is beneficial to the alphabet soup of generations which follow as they have access to cheap money. If this were only true......."

November 6, 2010

Geologists And Tech Industry Leaders Fear Mineral Trade Wars Imminent

Geologists And Tech Industry Leaders Fear Mineral Trade Wars Imminent:

China has a stranglehold on the high-tech world with control of the rare earth minerals market. They can squeeze the market anytime they desire and offer dozens of reasons why they aren't manipulating it.

Rare earth minerals are available elsewhere but at substantially higher cost which provides one more economic advantage to China in addition to cheap labor.

"A trade war is imminent, James Burnell of the Colorado Geological Survey explained in the Geosociety report:

“China is preparing to build 330 giga-watts worth of wind generators. That will require about 59,000 tons of neodymium to make high-strength magnets — more than that country’s annual output of neodymium. China supplies the world with a lot of those rare earth elements, like neodymium, and will have little or none to export if it moves ahead with its wind power plans…So the source for the West is problematical. [sic]”"

November 4, 2010

The NY Times in Sorting Out the Election does its best to assert that American voters really didn't repudiate TeamObama's policies. They revert to the tired mantra that the economic malaise is really Bush's fault and the Republicans' failure to cooperate with TeamObama since his election is the real problem.

I read it differently. While TeamObama may get the blame, Congress is where the problem lies. After all, when all is said and done, it is Congress that appropriates money and approves budgets and earmarks that now result in our borrowing 42 cents of every federal dollar spent. Congress is a bigger problem than TeamObama and Congress has been in Democrat hands since 2007.

In the mid-term elections, Congress was repudiated by voters who replaced many incumbents. However, control of the House by the Republicans will not enable them to govern. The situation now is a recipe for more gridlock and sparring for the run-up to the 2012 elections. Please, politicians, let's work for the good of the country instead.

Americans deserve more from our Congress than bickering, massive deficits, earmarks and government bloat. Serious work on major issues to prevent the obvious demise of the United States would be in order. Thankfully, the Tea Party folks are raising a loud voice to stop the slide and turned out votes attempting to change direction.

Changing direction in a fiscally sane fashion is what's needed to restore the confidence of Americans. TeamObama's policies lead us further down the road to debt and demise. Can Republicans and Tea Party folks turn the ship of state? Not without a massive overhaul of the culture of dependency that pervades too much of America.

Government as the great savior and redistributor of the nation's wealth is a fable. A vibrant private sector confidently investing and creating jobs is what we need.

November 2, 2010

Quantitative Easing

The Fed and the financial/economic community call the printing of money to buy treasury securities "quantitative easing." What a marvelous term of art to describe spending money we don't have by printing more of it. I am no economist or financier, but this seems a high risk approach in an attempt to stimulate the economy. Bond prices will rise and interest rates will decline. The long term effect may be decidedly negative as the United States continue to run up its debt, a bad policy move.

A person whom I greatly respect, Bill Gross, a recognized expert in bonds has this [click the link to read the whole piece] to say in an essay entitled, 'Run, Turkey Run:'

"There’s another important day next week and it rather coincidentally occurs on Wednesday – the day after Election Day – when either the Donkeys or the Elephants will be celebrating a return to power and the continuation of partisan bickering no matter who is in charge. Wednesday is the day when the Fed will announce a renewed commitment to Quantitative Easing – a polite form disguise for “writing checks.” The market will be interested in the amount (perhaps as much as an initial $500 billion) as well as the targeted objective (perhaps a muddied version of “2% inflation or bust!”). The announcement, however, has been well telegraphed and the market’s reaction is likely to be subdued. More important will be the answer to the long-term question of “will it work?” and perhaps its associated twin “will it create a bond market bubble?”
Whatever the conclusion, not only investors, but the American people should recognize that Wednesday, even more than Tuesday, represents a critical inflection point in determining our future prosperity. Of course we’ve tried it before, most recently in the aftermath of the Lehman crisis, during which the Fed wrote $1.5 trillion or so in “checks” to purchase Agency mortgages and a smattering of Treasuries. It might seem a tad dramatic then, to label QEII as “critical,” sort of like those airport hucksters, I suppose, that sold whale blubber for a living. But two years ago, there was the implicit assumption that the U.S. and its associated G-7 economies needed just an espresso or perhaps an Adderall or two to get back to normal. Normal just hasn’t happened yet, and economic historians such as Kenneth Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart have since alerted us that countries in the throes of deleverging can take many, not several, years to return to a steady state."

Voters will live with choices

Schubart: Voters will live with choices

Bill takes a measured, sane approach to guiding Vermonters in the parameters of our vote today. Although Vermont may be conservative in the sense that Bill defines it, politically Vermont is far too left-leaning.

The role of government in Vermont has become unbalanced because people have been led too far down a road of dependency rather than self-reliance. The result is pervasive government that has become overbearing when candled against the true conservative values of Freedom and Unity.

Bill is absolutely correct is his assessment about 'simplistic promises' without an 'implementation strategy and some assessment of intended and unintended consequences.'

Political spin by would-be leaders and vague ideological promises are a recipe for expensive, disappointing and ineffective government. But we deserve what we get when we fall for hype and marketing in place of common sense.