Our Leaders Are Just Dumb

From Greg Linden’s blog:

There is no solid evidence that using layoffs rather than less draconian methods to cut costs increases performance, and there is plenty of evidence that involuntary reductions in force damage both displaced workers and “survivors”.

A University of Colorado study … showed no link between downsizing and subsequent return on assets. A Bain study … found that … firms that used layoffs primarily for cost cutting suffered a drop in stock price … A Right Associates study … reported that layoffs were followed by lower employee morale and trust in management.

Google Monster

I smell a giant and too many Jacks on the beanstalk.

Google has introduced new features and removed a few. That’s normal growth. There are 1000s of tech sites that watch these moves and millions of users that rush to adopt and adapt.

Core services are showing rare improvements. There’s overall success from multi-year tweaking of algorithms to exclude scam and black-hat sites, but critics of the Page-Rank model are piling-on in greater numbers. In many sectors, crummy sites are top on the list after years of bad press and empty services. Wikipedia earns billions of exposures and few know why. Sloppy. Even governments are increasingly concerned about walloping societies with a hits-based revenue bias and gang aggregation. But that’s another story.

What about Gmail, for example? These improvements are from the design shop. The UI is tweaked but not much improved. In fact, Google introduced silliness: Move and Labels buttons that do the same task. Ingeniously designed buttons, yes, but a show of policy that is insensitive to the moans of users in the broad market.

What about Reader? The engine’s very workable API opens the door for adjunct services such as external widgets and scripts. There’s those tweaks again, but no effort to vamp the core experience for users.

Google’s unwritten trademark seems to be unused and arbitrary white space. Blogger’s editor requires street-written scripts to stretch it’s insensitive display blocks. There’s nothing improved in that editor over the years and this is where our fingers do the day to day work. New Blogger is an API on it’s way to a web standards fiasco.

What fly was on the wall at the tier management meeting that introduced Pages or wiped out Notebook? Illogical. No apparent direction, or if so, why change direction without a heraldic announcement and a global dance party?

Too few pundits are shaking their heads in bewilderment about Google’s so-called housekeeping! I’m sensing it’s damn organizational politics driving these decisions; little urgencies collecting in the nodes of hiring charts.

I’m certain I’m watching Google’s leadership lose its grip, too busy at Davos, while teams of special talents crawl into Google’s decision making, hallway by hallway, tweet by tweet. Too bad. But interesting.

Humanity can be trite. Google is rusting its way into a typical corporate monster. Employees and contractors that can grab momentum are learning how to bring this-or-that upstairs. Rank and politics are determining go or no-go. That’s my worry.

Users are to be taken for granted?

Saw down GOP’s tree

I am not willing to be bamboozled by GOP stumping for tax cuts. A) Thirty years feeding the rich has broken us. B) America needs a period of structured renewal, not more free market brigands and chaos. That’s critical now.

In reply to stalling and foolishness, Obama said,

“In recent days, there have been misguided criticisms of this plan that echo the failed theories that helped lead us into this crisis, the notion that tax cuts alone will solve all our problems; that we can meet our enormous tests with half-steps and piecemeal measures; that we can ignore fundamental challenges such as energy independence and the high cost of health care and still expect our economy and our country to thrive.

“I reject these theories, and so did the American people when they went to the polls in November and voted resoundingly for change.” White House blog

Bank of the United States

Bank of the United StatesDana Blankenhorn:
In all the talk over bank bailouts an obvious and very American solution is being ignored.

A Bank of the United States was proposed in 1791 by Alexander Hamilton fulfilling many roles the Federal Reserve now fills.

The purpose of the Bank of the United States would be to re-start the banking system. We could capitalize it with the current TARP funds and then start making loans. All kinds of loans, the kinds of credit facilities good businesses need to keep operating, to make payroll, buy inventory, all that.

A Bank of the United States would do a much better job protecting bailout money than the sharpies, shysters, and crooks who are still running Wall Street.

O and O Teamwork

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
AFTER READING TO THE SECOND GRADE CLASS
Capital City Public Charter School
Washington, D.C.
February 3, 2009

THE PRESIDENT: Well, listen, you guys, you’ve been terrific. Thank you so much for your hospitality —

MRS. OBAMA: — your good questions.

THE PRESIDENT: — your excellent questions.

MRS. OBAMA: — your outstanding listening skills.

THE PRESIDENT: You’re excellent listeners.

From the White House blog.

Insight to character

Volatile Justice:

Justice Scalia responds to questions, (Alan Murray/Herald Journal)At a Florida campus, student Sarah Jeck asked U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia why cameras are not allowed in the Supreme Court even though the court hearings are open, transcripts are available and the court’s justices go out on book tours. Scalia wasn’t happy.

Scalia replied. “That’s a nasty, impolite question.”

“He can dish it out, but he can’t take it, I guess,” she says.

The book: “Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges”

What will History say?

Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You With the Bill)How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You With the Bill)

Free Lunch: David Cay Johnston is a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter.

“How the superrich consistently—and outrageously—rely on public handouts while preaching about free markets and wasteful entitlement programs all the way to the bank. The villains in David Cay Johnston’s tales run the gamut from railroad executives to sports-franchise owners to hedge-fund managers, all joined by a willingness to take enormous sums from public coffers while providing little or nothing in return.”

A mark of our times; much more than simply ‘corporate welfare’. There’s no shame in it: “institutionalized corruption that takes money from the many and concentrates it in the hands of the politically connected few”.

MotherJones has a very brief piece here.

Before entering politics, George W. Bush ran a money-losing baseball team, but ended up millions of dollars richer by getting a government-funded sweetheart deal on a new stadium.

“I’ve got the documents. President Bush, who will go down in history as the great tax cutter, owes almost all of his fortune to a tax increase that was funneled into his pocket.”

Amy Goodman at DemocracyNow interviews Cay Johnston here.

Amy: Explain the wealth transfer.

David: …We have created in the United States, largely in the last thirty years, a whole series of programs—a few of them explicit, many of them deeply hidden—that take money from the pockets of the poor and the middle class and upper middle class and funnel it to the wealthiest people in America. And among the biggest recipients of these subsidies are the wealthiest family America, the Waltons; George Steinbrenner; Donald Trump; a whole host of healthcare billionaires.

And these are policies that either have not been reported on or the news reporting on them generally has not informed people about what they really are.

The news media hasn’t done a good job.

What do we call a system that merely trickles up?

Masters of disregard

Washington Post Op-Ed:

What happened to the money?

…since the late 1970s, a greater and greater share of national income has gone to people at the top of the earnings ladder.

As late as 1976, the richest 1 percent of the country took home about 9 percent of the total national income. By 2006, they were pocketing more than 20 percent.

But the rich don’t spend as much of their income as the middle class and the poor do — after all, being rich means that you already have most of what you need. That’s why the concentration of income at the top can lead to a big shortfall in overall demand and send the economy into a tailspin.

‘It’s not coincidental that 1928 was the last time that the top 1 percent took home more than 20 percent of the nation’s income.’

Grrr… hoisting irrelevant issues, a generation of leaders have weakened America.

Mad as hell, and loving it!

Disgorge the Bastards!

Getting mad as hell at tycoon villains is the new buzz.

Getting mad as hell at tycoon villains is the new buzz, The TyeeFill your Olympian lungs with bong smoke, throw an F-bomb tantrum on a movie set. Yawn. Tantrums by celebs like Michael Phelps and Christian Bale just don’t fire the public ire like they used to.

Not since the recession sent people into a kind of confused shock, that’s now maturing into collective rage targeted at villains like John Thain.

Thain, the CEO of Merrill Lynch who, after his firm sucked down millions in U.S. government bailout money, cut thousands of jobs while spending $1.22 million renovating his office renovating his office. Little decorative touches like an $87,000 rug and a $1,400 parchment wastepaper basket were what sent people from tut-tuting to steaming. A final flourish was that he told underlings to cut expenses including car services, while he spent $230,000 on his own driver.

On Tuesday morning, with the blogosphere mob chasing him down the street holding virtual pitchforks and torches, Thain resigned.

To the gallows!

As the meltdown continues to drip, the temperature of the public reaction to titans’ troubles has gone from cold smugness to hot blooded calls for revenge.

Sorry is an answer

define: apologetic

One pathology of power and pride is that there is no apology. Killing an innocent on a Texas’ Death Row, for instance, provokes dare and double dare, but little introspection and no apology.

Raw justification is a mistake. Bush regime torture has that color of raw in it. It’s effectiveness can be set aside. Consequences can be slapped aside. While proud of smallish policies, there is no apology.

It’s now clear that a robust marketplace need not be libertine nor hurt our population. The error of deregulation, supply-side deals, and the silly faith that wealth will trickle down is seen as a mistake, but we hear no apologies.

Instead, the rich have run to where the rich run, radio pundits remain mean and vehement, pulpits are relentlessly anew. Committee minority are repeating the spell of tax cuts and the magic of consumer pocket money, and abuzz in back rooms, trading stimulus rollouts for pork in their districts and favors to their lobby…. That’s unapologetic.

Perhaps being strident is why the Republican Party have any seats whatsoever. We Americans respect our Teddy Roosevelt or Ulysses Grant, and we salute conviction and bravado, but we make errors if we see no differences between Roosevelts and Limbaughs, or the endlessly re-elected fawning for headlines.

Apology, from Greek, ????????, is looking for an answerFrom Middle English, from Latin apolog?ticus, from Greek apolog?tikos, an apology is not groveling in a sorry state, but looking for a suitable fix.

The mood of apology may be sorry, contrite, penitent, but the act of apology is a thoughtful and useful truth: The error is ours, we admit, and here is our next step.

As a prosecutor hordes power in a prison and fails, an apology must be the repair of that power.

The loft of authority must be held to account, to apology, to “????????“.


Song of the Brightness of Water

From the depth—I came only to draw water
in a jug—so long ago, this brightness
still clings to my eyes—the perception I found,
and so much empty space, my own,
reflected in the well.

Yet it is good. I can never take all of you
into me. Stay then as mirror in the well.
Leaves and flowers remain, and each astonished gaze
brings them down
to my eyes transfixed more by light
than by sorrow.

When I think, my Country, I look for a road running upward,
like a high-voltage current cutting through slopes. This road
is in each of us, steep and upward, not allowing us to stop.

The road follows the same slopes, returns to the same places,
becomes a great silence visiting the tired lungs of my land
evening after evening.

Brain Diabetes

A third type of diabetes.

Alzheimer’s could be due to a novel third form of diabetes.

FuturePundit alerts us to the report published online [February] by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


BPS reports that Insulin shields memory-forming synapses from harm and memory loss caused by toxic proteins in Alzheimer’s… ScienceBlog

Google falls for crowds

Google’s revenue requires crowds. Here’s what Nick Carr says:

…what we seem to have here is evidence of a fundamental failure of the Web as an information-delivery service.

Three things have happened, in a blink of history’s eye: (1) a single medium, the Web, has come to dominate the storage and supply of information, (2) a single search engine, Google, has come to dominate the navigation of that medium, and (3) a single information source, Wikipedia, has come to dominate the results served up by that search engine.

Even if you adore the Web, Google, and Wikipedia – and I admit there’s much to adore – you have to wonder if the transformation of the Net from a radically heterogeneous information source to a radically homogeneous one is a good thing. Is culture best served by an information triumvirate?

Some say there are serious quirks in Google’s ranking algorithm. In the last years, there’s impressive improvements removing spam and redundancy. Bravo. But is Google too eager to deliver up sites that are merely popular?

Country Livin’ Bailout Style

A billion on increasingly endemic STD’s, a billion on food safety, a billion to speed-up family immigration backlogs, these are things that will pump the economy and perhaps only a government can do these things.

And in the marketplace, it’s not the job of government to create jobs. We rely on corporations to do that.

General Motors plans to invest $1 billion of it’s bailout to save jobs in Brazil.

According to the president of GM Brazil-Mercosur, the funding will come from the package of financial aid that the manufacturer will receive from the U.S. government…”

Of course I understand GM is a globalized operation, but the irony stands.

Dental Tourism

I noticed this simple comparison at AltSearchEngines, “RevaHealth, the Medical Tourism Search Engine”.

I think this small table is quite dramatic. With our health system ranked at #30; with free market jingoists trumpeting that only competition improves things… hmmm.

USA UK Hungary Poland Mexico Costa Rica Thailand
$1500 $1000 $540 $430 $400 $400 $300

Worry? Why worry? For example, the World Health Organization recently rated Costa Rica’s health system above that of the U.S.

Wind energy is not a niche

USA Wind Energy Map (wiki)The wind industry now employs more people than coal mining in the United States.

Wind industry jobs jumped to 85,000 in 2008, with 13,000 in regions hit by ‘the deindustrialization’.

The coal industry employs about 81,000.

Era of our plow

Poet Derek Walcott, winner of the 1992 Nobel Prize for Literature; the election of Barack Obama; exclusively for The Times:

Forty Acres

Out of the turmoil emerges one emblem, an engraving —

a young Negro at dawn in straw hat and overalls,

an emblem of impossible prophecy, a crowd

dividing like the furrow which a mule has plowed,

parting for their president: a field of snow-flecked

cotton

forty acres wide, of crows with predictable omens

that the young plowman ignores for his unforgotten

cotton-haired ancestors, while lined on one branch, is

a tense

court of bespectacled owls and, on the field’s

receding rim —

a gesticulating scarecrow stamping with rage at him.

The small plow continues on this lined page

beyond the moaning ground, the lynching tree, the tornado’s

black vengeance,

and the young plowman feels the change in his veins,

heart, muscles, tendons,

till the land lies open like a flag as dawn’s sure

light streaks the field and furrows wait for the sower.

Spending? Talk about spending?

Arguing for Republican votes, Barney Frank points out:

Barney Frank points outThe largest spending bill in history is going to turn out to be the one in Iraq.

If we’re going to talk about spending, I have a problem when we leave out that extraordinary expensive, damaging war in Iraq, which has caused much more harm than good in my judgment.

I don’t understand from my conservative friends, building a road, building a school, helping to get health care, that’s wasteful spending. But that war in Iraq, that’s going to cost us over a trillion dollars, yeah, I wish we hadn’t done that we would have been in a lot better shape fiscally.

…self-purported fiscal conservatives should not be entitled to selective memory.

Watch what you hear

There are sites where you will read this again:

Gods manifest themselves to humans primarily through the senses of hearing and sight. There is a curious combination of the two in Revelation 1.12 (tr. David E. Aune):

Then I turned to see the voice speaking to me.

??? ????????? ??????? ??? ????? ???? ?????? ???’ ????.

Listen to any nearby ghost to see if this is true.