This section of my web site is for unstructured self-expression. Sort of a blog. Your comments are appreciated. In any case, I get to vent. Essays, monographs, poems, book reviews, and comments.
Please visit my separate economics blog.
Why do we fall for these scams? Perhaps it is too easy to accept the claims that experts have supported the scheme. Perhaps we think racketeering only happens in organized crime. Perhaps we think that our government is free of organized crime. Perhaps we are weary of the continual promotion of these claims. Perhaps it is just too demanding to consider at all.
But guess what. Just because when you stand on a train track looking west does not mean a train will not approach you from the east, and run over you. Closing your eyes does not prevent others from seeing you. It just makes it easy for others to victimize you. (5-19-2017)
I hope some are reconsidering the notion that computer security can be adequately implemented on each computer's OS with perhaps the addition of one or move malware protection programs. This aproach just is not working. It's not enough for users to apply OS security patches as soon as they are available, the reliance on the OS is not enough — there is always another security risk (aka vulnerability) that can be exploited by crooks.
I think we need to reconsider the architecture of individual computers and networks. At this moment all networked computers are at risk. Plan B is to limit network connections, to isolate important business databases and personal software, to maintain a history of local network messages so they can be monitored, analyzed, and protections put in service. Yes, some computer processes will take longer while safe connections can be made, but that may be a fair tradeoff.
Protecting a population from contagious disease involves quarantine. Perhaps this should also be a feature of a new model of networking and security. (5-17-2017)
Oh yeah, another blame the victim.
And the other sad aspect to this is the age of the people making these declarations. They are older than 55. There is no way a government employee who has to do a lot of traveling and keep irregular hours is going to be completely healthy at age 55. Hence we have hypocrisy in living color. Clearly these speakers have no intention of being held personally to such a policy. They cling determinedly to their own health insurance package.
We can widen our analysis here. Politicans, especially Republicans, have nothing in common with their constituents. Which is fine by them. (5-4-2017)
Americans withdrew from the Korean War in 1953 (they ran for their lives), after which an armistice between the two Koreas was ratified. No peace treaty was ever signed. But North Korea claimed, in 2013, that they had invalidated that armistice and had entered a state of war with South Korea. They also pursued a nuclear weapons program.
It was through the UN that America entered the fray between the two Koreas. Actually, that Korea had been subdivided into north and south in 1948 was a result of the cold war we had with the USSR.
America must bear some of the blame for the current state of Korea. We allowed our horror of communism to force our intervention into what was primarily a private squabble. Millions of Koreans died in that squabble and our intervention. How can we say that their deaths were warranted? That Korea benefitted?
The man who would be president bragged about his negotiation skills. Where are they now? We need cool heads with sound negotiating skills to calm the waters. We DO NOT NEED braggadocio and threats.
Please stop the madness. (4-18-2017)
Such a violation of international law gives Syria the right to react in self-defense or a legal justification for the use of force. It also gives any other UN Member State the right to act in collective self-defense and to support Syrian action against the US.
And yet the American Congress has not risen up and condemned the strike. All too many seem to have approved of it, if only privately. What were Trump's advisors thinking? Do they know nothing of international law? Or were they just going along? If the answer to either of these questions is "yes," then these people lack critical qualifications for their jobs. Ditto for Congress.
This illegal act has endangered the people of the US.
"America First" is a shifty slogan, but must never be interpreted as denying allegiance to international law.
So, just for you, I wrote an article about what computer privacy and security are and how to protect yourself. It is written for the home computer user and, in particular, for the non-technical user Computer Privacy and Security.
A video was taken of the passenger being dragged, screaming, from the plane; it went "viral" and UAL has received much public condemnation. The CEO offered a weak apology.
Why did this happen?
About 30 years ago the notion that an effective manager could manage any group in any business emerged, probably from business schools and consultants. Over the years many managers have felt this applied to them. I have personally worked for too many such "managers" and found they made a lot of mistakes because they did not understand the unique requirements of their business; and what annoyed me the most is that they leaned on their staff to save their butts, and then never issued a thank you.
Today senior and executive managers, whose previous employers enjoyed big success, think they can manage anything. And boards of directors hire them, regardless of their knowledge of the particular business.
It is my theory that the UAL's CEO is one such man. He was seen as successful in prior positions, was hired at UAL with no airline experience, and then proceeded to hire more managers like him, and now no senior UAL manager knows anything about the airline business.
The CEO of UAL is Oscar Munoz. He has been the CEO and President since September 2015, when the previous CEO quit, effectively immediately. His alma maters are University of Southern California (B.S., 1982) and Pepperdine University (M.B.A., 1986). [I earned a MBA from Pepperdine University in 1979.] From 2010 to 2015 he had been a member of the Board of Directors of parent company United Continental Holdings; that parent company was founded in 2010 in the United-Continental merger. From 2004, Munoz had been a member of the Continental Board of Directors. Munoz previously served as President and Chief Operating Officer of CSX Corporation, a company he joined in 2003 and left for UAL; CSX is an international and intermodal transportation company. From 2001 to 2003, Munoz served as the Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Consumer Services at AT&T. Munoz had also worked for Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc.
So, was Munoz qualified to run UAL? His only airline experience was as a board member. I doubt that gave him a sufficient operational understanding of airlines. Let's say his understanding of the public perception of air travel is insufficient. As is his direction of the operational staff to handle passenger conflicts.
Ironically, Munoz claimed in a September 2015 interview that he planned to focus on innovation, earnings growth, and most important an improved customer experience; he cited his consumer-based background as helpful for those changes.
At 3pm on April 10th, Munoz issued a much better apology.
And then a second occurrence of abuse to a paying passenger, on April 11 in Kauai. In that case, a paying passenger seated in first class was
told to leave the plane because the seat was needed for someone else with more importance. He was threatened with handcuffs if he refused.
Again, UAL refused to apologize or refund the price of the ticket.
These men have likely reached the pinnacle of their younger self's dreams, and find themselves in need of a new dream. But, instead of turning to a completely different practice, they seek to continue as they have. They see no value in the possibilities and gifts of middle age and older, to explore different dimensions and develop different skills. Instead, they are afraid. And cling to what they know.
In their devotion to electronics, they have failed to develop substantial appreciation for completely different, non-technological, ideas. At the least, they could enroll in a liberal arts program focused on the Great Books at St. John's College in Santa Fe, New Mexico, or a program studying esoteric subjects. (4-10-2017)
Oh, the real explanation is the shift in consumer habits. There is some discussion in The Guardian article about how Brantano fits, or tried to fit, into "shopping habits." The Guardian goes on to say:
"All retailers are under pressure from rising costs because of increases in business rates, the introduction of a minimum wage for over-25s and the fall in the value of the pound against the dollar, the currency in which many products are bought on the wholesale market. Hinton said it was harder for footwear specialists to cut employee costs because floor staff were required to fetch stock and explain shoe sizes to customers."
BS. That is blaming everyone except the executives who are supposed to be steering the ship.
The reality is that their business model and the quality of their product failed, and the willingness of consumers to buy it — changed.
And so we see the power of consumer actions: quit buying a brand of shoe, and down they go. (3-22-2017)
She loved to travel. She told me about trips to Egypt and India, where she returned several times. She studied spirituality. She helped the needy; I'm reminded of a crippled man (whom I never met) who lived in Mill Valley, she used to bring him groceries, prepare meals for him, and massage him with essential oils. She liked to dance, and took dance lessons with much younger people who were amazed at her energy and determination.
I last saw Lynda on Friday, November 4th of last year. She visited me, we went out to dinner, and had a nice catch-up chat. She was ill then.
According to her obituary, she died in Idaho on February 9, just a few days ago. She had been ill. I am sad to lose her. (2-16-2017)