For all those on the progressive side expecting a miracle to take place on Nov. 2nd and sweep the polling places clear of those pesky right-wing nut-jobs, I hate to disappoint you. Instead, you need to concentrate on the size of the sweep that will take place – will it be a ripple? A wave? Or a tsunami?
Frankly, it’s beginning to look a bit like a tsunami is possible. In 1994, in what is popularly considered a “blow out” in political circles, the GOP took 54 House seats back in the mid-term elections.
Take a look at these comparisons (which obviously include “committed” independents in the “lean” categories). Compare 1994 and 2010. Note two things – 1) there’s a 6+ point difference between then and now favoring the Republicans. 2) Among independents, all but a few (and much fewer than in 1994) are not already committed (meaning there isn’t likely to be a sudden “surge” of indies going left in the remaining few days to swing the elections over to the Dems).
Last, but not least, look at the self-identified categories at the bottom. In all categories but “moderate” there has been growth. Most would argue this demonstrates the polarization of our polity. I’d agree. Moderates have lost 16 points since 1994. Liberals have gained 8, as have conservatives. However, the conservatives hold a decided edge over liberals. What that means is liberals need moderates much more than conservatives do. And it is the moderates and independents who are right now rejecting the liberals in Congress.
The point conservatives should take away from this is – at least as this poll demonstrates – that their ideas are winning. And to me, that says they have the backing to aggressively pursue their agenda. Note I said “aggressively”, not stupidly, or arrogantly or, well choose your own modifier and count on them to find a way to screw it up. Wisely may be a better way of saying it.
What do I mean by that? Here’s another survey to consider from Harris Interactive. It is the “right direction/wrong direction” poll for the country you see from various polling firms. To me it best indicates what is and has been going on within the polity for quite some time. What it also indicates is this anger and frustration isn’t new nor is it necessarily aimed at the current President or Congress. Instead it is something which has been existent for a long time and is finally coming to a head, driven most likely by the economic conditions, government overreach and fiscal profligacy:
|YEAR||Right Dir %||Wrong Dir %|
Note that 1994 was the big wave GOP takeover of the House during the Clinton years. And during the lead up, you saw the percentage dissatisfaction with the direction of the country as high as 81% – only exceeded by the 83% during the Bush era in October of 2008 – a month before the national presidential election.
Some may write this off to a cynical public, two-thirds of whom always see the glass as half-empty. But I think it goes much deeper than that to a public that has become increasingly aware that the premise on which this country was founded is being systematically betrayed by those engaged in governance. And, as the chart demonstrates, that belief isn’t held exclusively to one party. When the GOP was seen as betraying their principles, they too were seen as putting the country on the wrong track.
You may look at the chart and say, “ wait a minute, how do you conclude that – the public seems equally disenchanted with both sides given the numbers.” I’d point back to the other chart showing “conservatives” with 48% and rising and say there hasn’t been much in the way of “conservative” governance in the last 20 years. That’s why, for the most part, the “wrong track” remains consistent through both GOP and Democrat administrations. Democrats thought it was because of a disenchantment with the GOP. The GOP thought it was because the Democrats over reached. In fact, it was both of these and the fact that neither the GOP or the Democrats (particularly the Democrats) were conservative enough.
What you see now, driven by obvious unfettered and unacceptable deficit spending, government intrusion and takeovers is that anger and frustration finally boiling over. It is, of course, enabled by out technology today, but it is truly grass-roots (despite the best efforts of the left to characterize it as otherwise). And that’s what both mystifies and terrifies politicians. A finger in the wind doesn’t work so well right now. Despite incredible attempts to demonize them, ordinary people are standing up in town hall meetings and demanding answers to questions that politicians would prefer to avoid. There’s heckling at “debates”. Even violence (on both sides – as the left goes batsh*t crazy over the “head stomping”, let’s not forget the older gentleman at the Tea Party rally who had his finger bitten off by an SEIU thug).
It points to a restive populace tired of the same old promises, same old problems and same old “fixes”. An interesting phenomenon is occurring that has many political observers on both the left and the right scratching their heads as they try to understand it. We’re seeing the creation of spontaneous order at a grass-roots level of citizens who’ve had enough of business as usual. It scares the establishment to death. And that, folks, is healthy. The citizenry needs to keep our politicians in that state constantly.
Then – perhaps – they might figure out what it is the citizens of this country really want out of their government. And unless I’ve read it wrong, it isn’t the bloated, intrusive, hugely expensive and profligate mess they’ve created. Mr. Obama needs to learn that the country doesn’t think “government is cool” – only necessary. And that necessity needs to be tempered and quickly. Until it is, he and all politicians can count on continuing to see exactly what they see today in direction of the country polls and outspoken voter discontent – no matter which party they represent.
If you use Google Chrome, you may have noticed a horrific security warning that the Blogrolling RPC script is running malware. As of today, you’ll notice that the warning no longer appears. We’ve used Blogrolling for years to generate the links for the Bear Flag League and Old Dominion Blog Alliance. Those Blogrolling links have now been removed.
Tucows, the owner of Blogrolling, has also noticed these problems. Sadly, they’ve decided that it would cost too much to fix the malware and security problems. As a result, Blogrolling will be shut down completely. This is sad, because Blogrolling was really the first useful link aggregator for managing blogrolls. Now, it seems the march of technology has passed it by. I don’t know how blog alliance links will be managed in its absence.
If you are a blogger, and you use Blogrolling, you should be formulating your plans for how you are going to replace it.
Well, I no longer have a Motorola Droid. It’s gone.
Verizon gives you this 30 day deal where you’re allowed to swap out your phone. so I decided to take a look at the HTC Incredible. To make a long story short, I walked out with one.
The one sticking point with me was that the HTC didn’t have a physical keyboard. But I’ve noticed over the last few days that I didn’t even use the physical keyboard on the Motorola. The Incredible just seemed like a better device, after playing with it in the Verizon store for a while.
It has a 1GH processor compared to the 533MH processor on the Droid. An 8 megapixel camera compared to the Droid’s 5 megapixel one. And the virtual keyboard is pretty good, too. My only complaint so far is that the predictive text feature on the Droid works better. I’m sure I’ll get used to the way HTC has implemented the feature but the Droid’s was better out of the box.
The camera on the Incredible seems to be a lot better than the Droid, and it works a lot faster.
The HTC also has one thing most newer cell phones completely lack, and the the little lanyard attachment point. I have this little utility pouch from Wingnut that I hang off a belt loop of my pants, or my motorcycle pants. I use it to carry a multitool, a backup knife, a Cross Ion pen, and a small bottle of hand sanitizer. It also has a cell phone pocket with a quick-release lanyard you can attach to the phone.
Anyway, I have the new Incredible, and so far I’m really liking it. It’s what I’m using to write this post, in fact.
Thank you, Verizon, for letting me use a Droid for a week as a trainer phone for Android, and then giving me a free upgrade to a better phone.
At least, I think it’s a better phone. The real test will come on Sunday, when we see if the call quality to BlogTalkRadio is as good on the HTC as the Droid was last week.
So, yesterday Verizon notified me that I was eligible for a new phone upgrade. I popped ’round to the phone store, and after much hemming and hawing, “settled” for a Motorola Droid.
Itbseems to have a nice application market, one of whose products is the app I’m using to write this post.
Yep. I’m phone-blogging.
It’s really amazing where the march of mobile technology is taking us. Yesterday, I came across an old news video from 1981, which talked about how some newspapers were starting to put out electronic versions–text only, of course–onto computers. Subscribers with computers could log on via modem and download the whole paper. It only took two hours to download, at a cost of $10 per download–the equivalent of $23 in 2010 dollars.
And today, I can instantly publish to the whole world via my phone, for free.
We’ve now advanced to the point where we have phones whose least valuable feature is the ability to make telephone calls.
UPDATE: Sorry about the multiple posts. I kept getting a bad gateway error, so I kept republishing…without looking to see if it published. My bad, not the phone’s.
So far the phone just rocks.
It’s been an interesting week for me, because I’ve run into three situations that illustrate to me that, even though the Internet has been around since 1995, and has been hugely important to business–and politics, of course–since 2000, it’s clear that many people are still unclear about it. Ive been a web developer since ’96, and have been the Managing Principal of WebmasterDeveloper.Com since 2003. There was a time when I just assumed that no one knew anything about the Internet, and that sort of attitude among customers was defensible. In 2010, however, those days should be long gone.
But that attitude is still out there, and I’ve been hit over the head with it repeatedly this week.
This client created an affiliate marketing web site, aimed at a group of customers to which they have direct access through their other lines of business. They spent months crafting the web site to provide the best affiliate programs they can think of. After going live with their web site a few weeks ago, they’ve had 1 sale, and about 40 affiliate click-throughs. They were shocked that their direct marketing of the site to existing customers has had such a dismal response. In the course of conversation with the client, I asked, “Did you ever do any surveys of your customers to see what kind of offers would have value to them? The answer: No. We didn’t want to spend a bunch of startup capital doing that.
They’ve spent thousands of dollars building a web site without any knowledge about what their customers want. They’ve never talked to their customers; never gotten any idea of what their customers need, and how to fulfill that need. They’ve spent every penny on building a web site to fulfill a need they haven’t even defined with their customers. And now, since the customers aren’t responding, they’re concerned that there may be some sort of technical problem.
“I haven’t been getting any orders from my web site. Apparently, the web host shut my site down for non-payment, but I don’t remember getting any notifications that there was a problem with my credit card. Anyway, can you see what I owe, so I can pay them, and you guys can download my site and transfer it to another web host?” As it happens, the web host not only sent out email notifications, but made phone calls to try and collect payment, with no response. In May of 2009. Of course, their web site files are loooong gone.
So, the client clearly hasn’t even looked at his own web site for at least 10 months.
This client is completely changing their web site to become the single point of contact with their customer base. Their customers will have to pay an annual fee just to see the products they sell, then use the web site to submit initial bids for salvage auctions. I informed the client via email that we needed content from them. I received an angry phone call from the client, who screamed at me, “I just want to concentrate on my business, which is [widget salvage]! I don’t want to spend all my time doing web design! That’s what I pay you for!”
In other words, the client wants to make the web site his sole source of initial interaction with his customers, but he is uninterested in writing any content for it. His web site will be the primary public access that customers have to his company, but working on the web site is a distraction from his real business.
And the real kicker is, on the day we finished the initial programming, he drops the bombshell that the site’s design–which he approved on January 27–is completely unacceptable, and he wants to completely redesign the site. This is akin to approving the blueprints for a home construction project, then kiting in on the day the contractor finishes laying the last bits of carpet and exclaiming, “I wanted four bedrooms, not three!”
All of these clients, despite their differing details, have one glaring thing in common: It’s the assumption that once something goes out onto the Internet, it works because pixies sprinkle magical fairy dust on it. Tinkerbell waves her wand, sparkly bits fly through the air, and money just comes rolling in to your bank account.
In the real world, the Internet operates on the same principles any brick and mortar business does. You still have to perform due diligence. You still need to market to your customers. You still need to go into the office–even if it’s a virtual one.
Nothing magical happens simply because people can access your business online, rather than jumping in the car and driving to it.
You may have seen this, but it does cause one to pause and think about what the future holds:
I have to admit upfront that I have a conflict of interest on this, but the Immersive Media cameras from my sisters company are amazing. Throw in that it gives some of the best views of the devastation in Haiti and I am kind of speechless. Go ahead and take a trip with them through Port au Prince and drag the view to look around in a full 360 degree view from a moving vehicle.
In addition to taking you into this disaster the potential applications seem rather large to me. Check it out. You can grab the screen while it is still or when playing and drag the view wherever you want.
The initial commercial applications are kind of obvious, but I am curious about the applications to entertainment. Specifically movies. Like most new ways of filming I expect the initial efforts to be gimmicky, and low in actual value other than the novelty. However, imagine watching movies with an interactive ability for the viewer to shift the camera view from a first person point of view. The directors focus becomes less of an issue, and all of what is happening in view of whoever a character is becomes part of the story. Talk about taking the idea behind something like Vantage Point to a new level. Other interactive technologies could be combined with more impact.
You can view more footage of Haiti and look into the technology at http://www.immersivemedia.com/haiti/
Update: The autoplay was annoying, and the embed for the other footage seems to be having a problem at the moment, so I included a link to a video instead until the flash embed starts working again.
We continue to hear how wonderful it is as compared to the horrible US system.
But is it? One of the fundamental truths of any health care system is you have infinite demand meeting finite resources (beds, doctors, availability, etc). Whatever system a country has, that truth doesn’t change.
So, regardless of system, there is going to be some sort of rationing. It is unavoidable and inevitable.
Now add a desire to control and cut costs associated with the provision of health care to the mix (the promise of every one of these government systems). On the one side, as European nations have done, access to health care is expanded to include everyone. On the other hand, these same nations attempt to control health care costs.
The result? Very mixed. France is always held up as the exception to the rule that government health care can’t be both good and inexpensive. But a closer examination seems to indicate that it isn’t an exception at all:
A World Health Organization survey in 2000 found that France had the world’s best health system. But that has come at a high price; health budgets have been in the red since 1988.
In 1996, France introduced targets for health insurance spending. But a decade later, the deficit had doubled to 49 billion euros ($69 billion).
“I would warn Americans that once the government gets its nose into health care, it’s hard to stop the dangerous effects later,” said Valentin Petkantchin, of the Institut Economique Molinari in France. He said many private providers have been pushed out, forcing a dependence on an overstretched public system.
Why have private providers been “pushed out”? Because government has provided health care “cheaper” than do private providers (and obviously at a loss given the deficit). Notice I said “cheaper”. That doesn’t necessarily mean “better”.
And the same thing is being seen in other European health care systems which are considered “models” of government run health care:
Similar scenarios have been unfolding in the Netherlands and Switzerland, where everyone must buy health insurance.
“The minute you make health insurance mandatory, people start overusing it,” said Dr. Alphonse Crespo, an orthopedic surgeon and research director at Switzerland’s Institut Constant de Rebecque. “If I have a cold, I might go see a doctor because I am already paying a health insurance premium.”
Cost-cutting has also hit Switzerland. The numbers of beds have dropped, hospitals have merged, and specialist care has become harder to find. A 2007 survey found that in some hospitals in Geneva and Lausanne, the rates of medical mistakes had jumped by up to 40 percent. Long ranked among the world’s top four health systems, Switzerland dropped to 8th place in a Europe-wide survey last year.
Dr. Crespo’s point is simply an astute observation of human nature. If something doesn’t directly cost the user, why would the user ration the use of such a benefit?
The use, however, still costs someone or something. The doctor must be paid, the institution must be paid, etc. So in the end, the only way to control costs is to cut payments. Eventually, the incentives to enter the health care field become less attractive (unless you like long hours, overrun waiting rooms, minimal time with patients, being second-guessed by a bureaucracy and making much less than a private system allows for compensation) and there are fewer that enter the field. Hospital beds then drop, hospitals merge and there are fewer specialists available to serve the population as Switzerland is discovering.
And then there’s the lack of innovation to face.
Bureaucracies are slow to adopt new medical technologies. In Britain and Germany, even after new drugs are approved, access to them is complicated because independent agencies must decide if they are worth buying.
When the breast cancer drug Herceptin was proven to be effective in 1998, it was available almost immediately in the U.S. But it took another four years for the U.K. to start buying it for British breast cancer patients.
The promise that has been made in the US is health care reform will return the decision making to the doctor. But that’s simply a false promise given the priorities of the reform we’ve been promised. It is to cut cost and make care “affordable” to all. Somewhere is a bureaucracy in waiting which will decide what “affordable” means – and it won’t include your doctor.
So you can expect innovation to begin to slow. Why invest billions when a bureaucracy will decide whether or not it’s a medicine or treatment worth the cost. The same bureaucracy will also decide what it will pay for your innovation. Of course, if the innovator can’t recover the cost of development and make a profit as incentive toward more innovation, the probability exits the developer will simply stop such research.
“Government control of health care is not a panacea,” said Philip Stevens, of International Policy Network, a London think-tank. “The U.S. health system is a bit of a mess, but based on what’s happened in some countries in Europe, I’d be nervous about recommending more government involvement.”
Words of wisdom most likely to be ignored by our legislators here. And the unfortunate thing is it will not only destroy an excellent health care system here, but, given the level of government spending forecast, tank the rest of the economy as well.
[HT: Carol D]
Sometimes the little surprises life hands you are the most pleasant. While in Houston at the Offshore Technology Conference, my trip sponsored by API, I happened to meet another blogger who introduced himself to me as a “raging liberal”. In the course of three days and a few good beers, Chris Nelder and I had some very enjoyable and interesting conversations. And, interestingly, Chris and I agree on where the policy debate stands as it pertains to energy. Chris wrote an outstanding article detailing his observations about the current situation, and, for the most part, I agree completely with his well thought out assessment. Here is his list of “10 Inconvenient Truths” that he feels all policy makers must understand before they can effectively plan for the future:
1. We have extracted nearly all of the world’s easy, cheap oil and gas, and now we’re getting down to the difficult, expensive stuff. The largest untapped resources that remain are in extreme places like deepwater and the Arctic, and marginal formations like shale. As a result, global oil production has for all intents and purposes peaked. Natural gas production will also peak in 10 to 15 years. Neither technology nor high prices will change that. Therefore we must begin to replace those fuels with renewables, and use what remains much more efficiently, with the expectation that most of the world’s oil and gas will be gone by the end of this century.
While I agree with Chris’s point about renewables, I’m not quite ready to buy into the idea that “most” of the world’s gas and oil will be gone by the end of the century, especially if we make progress developing cheap, renewable and clean alternatives. That’s not to say he might not be right, but I continue to look at the improvements in technology and the fact that the same sort of predictions have been made for decades and here we are. But on the main point of gearing up renewables, we agree completely. We must prepare for the possibility Chris is right and we need to do that now.
2. Drilling for oil and gas drilling in the OCS and ANWR must and will be done; our need for those fuels is simply too great to pass them up. An additional 2-3 mbpd will put a dent in the roughly 12 mbpd we now import, but if we drill for it now, it won’t come to market for 10 years or more. By that time, it probably won’t even compensate for the depletion of conventional oil in North America, nor will it do much to reduce prices. But it will be crucially necessary, and producing it won’t make an ugly mess of the environment.
You see someone on the left here who has studied the problem, understands the processes used and has formed an opinion that is outside his side’s political mainstream. He understands that technology has advanced to the point that the oil and gas industry can drill for oil and gas safely and with a very small footprint. In fact, advances in sub sea technology are almost to the point where the entire process can be safely and productively located under the waves. So, in a “comprehensive” scheme, the left has got to drop its almost knee-jerk resistance to such drilling and understand it must be a part of an overall energy solution.
3. Renewables are clearly the long-term answer, as is an all-electric infrastructure that runs on its clean power. However, it will likely take over 30 years for renewables to ramp up from a less than 2% share of primary energy today to 20% or more. They probably won’t even be able to fill the gap created by the decline of fossil fuels. Oil and gas currently provide about 58% of the world’s primary energy, and they will remain our primary fuels for a long time to come.
To believe “green fuels”/renewables are the immediate and total answer to today’s energy needs is to deny reality. We have to remember that there is going to be a growing energy gap as more and more nations come on-line in the first-world and demand more energy as a result. Oil, gas, nuclear and coal are going to play a large and significant part of bridging that gap even as we work to develop renewables. As a nation we cannot afford that sort of short-sighted thinking. It is critical that everyone understand that while the preference is for renewable, clean fuels, the reality is they’re still quite a ways off, while the energy demand continues to grow unabated and certainly with no concern for our personal energy preferences.
China has stated it won’t be left holding the financial bag in order to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Calling itself a “poorer” nation, China wants the 7 most developed countries to spend 1% of GDP on helping them and others.
China raised the price of its co-operation in the world’s climate change talks yesterday by calling for developed countries to spend 1 per cent of their domestic product helping poorer nations cut greenhouse gas emissions.
The funding – amounting to more than $300bn (£190bn, €240bn) based on Group of Seven countries – would be spent largely on the transfer of “green” technologies, such as renewable energy, to poorer countries.
Gao Guangsheng, head of the climate change office at the National Reform and Development Commission, the Chinese government’s main planning body, said that even such large funds “might not be enough”.
China’s toughened stance comes weeks ahead of United Nations talks in Poland aimed at forging a successor to the Kyoto protocol, whose main provisions expire in 2012.
China also suggests that to this point, emissions reduction has been mostly talk:
“Climate change policies need a lot of money to be invested, however developed countries have not made any substantive promises about how much they are going to spend on,” said Mr Gao. “And they did not fulfil some of the promises they made in the past very well either.”
Of course a number of reasons relate to why those previous promises haven’t been fulfilled. Most of them relate to economics and the realization that their promises are potentially crippling to their economies. That’s effecting the G20 meeting as we speak:
Fears are mounting that environmental issues could be almost entirely sidelined at tomorrow’s G20 summit in London as leaders of the world’s largest economies resist calls to make clear green commitments as part of the meeting’s closing communiqué.
According to Guardian reports, UK officials are leading a last-ditch effort to have clear environmental commitments incorporated into the global economic recovery package that will back up politicians’ repeated calls for a ” green new deal”.
Gordon Brown has said that the inclusion of a commitment on the environment would be one of the tests of the summit’s success, but he admitted that the negotiations were likely to be tough.
The draft version of the communiqué leaked at the weekend made only a passing reference to climate change and it is thought some nations are resisting more detailed commitments to dedicate a proportion of the global stimulus package to green projects that they fear could provide an excuse for protectionist measures.
There is also reluctance to incorporate climate change commitments that could be seen to step on the toes of the UN’s climate change negotiations, which are continuing this week at a separate conference in Bonn, Germany.
This, of course, is good news. Why?
“Everybody seems to be focusing on short-term recovery and getting long-term regulation of the banks right,” he said. “I haven’t heard anything that suggests green recovery and climate change are a major part of the [G20] agenda.”
That’s because that is the priority – not that anyone should expect the G20 to get any of financial part of it right either. However, the priority does keep them from making commitments that would cripple economic growth. And they, of course, know that – which is why they’re avoiding it and spinning it as a desire not to “step on the toes of the UN’s climate change negotiations”.
But back to China – you’ll enjoy this. It is called “having your cake and eating it too”:
[China’s climate ambassador Yu Qingtai]… said that China was willing to make a “due contribution” to curbing emissions, but warned that the country would not see its citizens “left in the dark” as a result of binding emission targets and was within its rights to continue to invest in coal power that allows its economy to grow.
Gotta love the Chinese – they make some of our spin merchants seem like rookies. China will decide what its “due contribution” will be while it builds thousands of coal fired plants. In the meantime, per China, it is up to the rest of the world to do what is necessary to curb emissions because, you know, the poorer nations just aren’t up to it. Su Wei, Chinese delegation chief to the UN climate change talks in Bonn:
Su said the success of the Copenhagen summit lies in whether or not the developed countries would make “substantial arrangements” for transferring climate-friendly technologies to and providing funds for developing countries.
Su noted the establishment of three international “mechanisms” is very important among the “substantial arrangements.”
“The first is to set up an international mechanism on climate-friendly technology development and transfer, to eliminate barriers hindering technology transfer, so that developing countries can get access to such technologies,” he said.
“Secondly, we should set up an effective financing mechanism to ensure the developed countries provide adequate funds for developing countries in their bid to cut emissions and fight climate change,” he added.
Thirdly, Su said an “effective supervision mechanism” should beset up to monitor the above-mentioned technology transfer and funding.
Nice. Known as the “you pay, we take” program, this pretty much excuses China (and the rest of the poorer BRIC nations) from doing much of anything. As long as China is convinced that a) enough technology hasn’t been transfered, or b) there hasn’t been enough “effective financing” of the effort, it can c) exempt itself from any cuts while insisting the rest of the developed world stick by its commitments.
Now that is how a master loots your wallet.