Later On

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Differences in economic performance between Blue and Red states

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Paul Krugman in the NY Times today:

Two impossible things happened to the U.S. economy over the course of the past year — or at least they were supposed to be impossible, according to the ideology that dominates half our political spectrum. First, remember how Obamacare was supposed to be a gigantic job killer? Well, in the first year of the Affordable Care Act’s full implementation, the U.S. economy as a whole added 3.3 million jobs — the biggest gain since the 1990s. Second, half a million of those jobs were added in California, which has taken the lead in job creation away from Texas.

Were President Obama’s policies the cause of national job growth? Did Jerry Brown — the tax-raising, Obamacare-embracing governor of California — engineer his state’s boom? No, and few liberals would claim otherwise. What we’ve been seeing at both the national and the state level is mainly a natural process of recovery as the economy finally starts to heal from the housing and debt bubbles of the Bush years.

But recent job growth, nonetheless, has big political implications — implications so disturbing to many on the right that they are in frantic denial, claiming that the recovery is somehow bogus. Why can’t they handle the good news? The answer actually comes on three levels: Obama Derangement Syndrome, or O.D.S.; Reaganolatry; and the confidence con.

Not much need be said about O.D.S. It is, by now, a fixed idea on the right that this president is both evil and incompetent, that everything touched by the atheist Islamic Marxist Kenyan Democrat — mostly that last item — must go terribly wrong. When good news arrives about the budget, or the economy, or Obamacare — which is, by the way, rapidly reducing the number of uninsured while costing much less than expected — it must be denied.

At a deeper level, modern conservative ideology utterly depends on the proposition that conservatives, and only they, possess the secret key to prosperity. As a result, you often have politicians on the right making claims like this one, from Senator Rand Paul: “When is the last time in our country we created millions of jobs? It was under Ronald Reagan.”

Actually, if creating “millions of jobs” means adding two million or more jobs in a given year, we’ve done that 13 times since Reagan left office: eight times under Bill Clinton, twice under George W. Bush, and three times, so far, under Barack Obama. But who’s counting?

Still, don’t liberals have similar delusions? Not really. The economy added 23 million jobs under Clinton, compared with 16 million under Reagan, but there’s nothing on the left comparable to the cult of the Blessed Ronald. That’s because liberals don’t need to claim that their policies will produce spectacular growth. All they need to claim is feasibility: that we can do things like, say, guaranteeing health insurance to everyone without killing the economy. Conservatives, on the other hand, want to block such things and, instead, to cut taxes on the rich and slash aid to the less fortunate. So they must claim both that liberal policies are job killers and that being nice to the rich is a magic elixir.

Which brings us to the last point: the confidence con. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 March 2015 at 3:08 pm

Blast from the past: Doing fractals with the IBM 1401

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I spent some years writing programs for the IBM 1401 computer. We wrote in assembly language using pencils and coding forms, which were sent to the keypunch department to be punched into cards. The punched cards were then used as input to the Autocoder program to be translated to machine language; Autocoder then punched out a loadable program deck. When you put that deck into the card reader and pushed start, the first card was read, which included instructions to read the next card, and so on. The cards also had instructions to load the machine code in the cards into memory at the appropriate locations. A complex program might take an entire box of cards (2000 cards), but most were probably around 300-1000 cards.

Those were the days. This article describes the fractal program and also a fair amount of the 1401 hardware. The description of the Binary-Coded Decimal (BCD) are spot-on. God, I knew all that stuff by heart. Takes me back.

There were two versions of the Autocoder program that converted the assembly-language punched cards into a loadable machine-language card deck (a deck much smaller than the assembly-language deck): two-tape Autocoder (which used two tape drives—this was long before disk storage) and four-table Autocoder (requires four tape drives, and naturally this was the official IBM version, since it required the rental of more tape drives—and back then IBM would not sell any equipment: it was all leased (to create a continuing revenue stream).

Some good photos at the link.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 March 2015 at 1:46 pm

Posted in Business, Techie toys

Actions speak louder than words: Monsanto lobbyist edition

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When the words go one direction and the actions go another, which do you believe? (Cf. Obama’s words and actions re: transparency, or protecting whistleblowers.) Note that the guy explicitly says that one would have to “stupid” or “an idiot” to believe the stuff was harmless. (This quite clearly reveals his opinion of the public, to whom the words are addressed and intended to convince.) Thanks to The Son for pointing this out.

The note at the link:

SM Gibson
March 26, 2015
(ANTIMEDIA) French television station Canal+ recently sat down with Dr. Patrick Moore for an upcoming documentary. Dr Moore, who claims to be an ecological expert and is currently the frontman for Ecosense Environmental, stated to the interviewer that Monsanto’s weed killer Roundup was not responsible for skyrocketing cancer rates in Argentina.

This is where the interview took a turn for the surreal.

Dr. Moore insisted that Roundup is safe to drink, at which point the interviewer did the only logical thing one could do in that situation. He offered the doctor a glass of the weed killer to allow him an opportunity to back up his statement. The following is the text from that exchange.

Dr. Patrick Moore: “You can drink a whole quart of (Roundup) and it won’t hurt you.”
Canal+: “You want to drink some? We have some here.”
Moore: “I’d be happy to, actually…. Uhh…Not.. Not really. But I know it wouldn’t hurt me.”
Canal+: “If you say so, I have some glyphosate, have some.”
Moore: “No. I’m not stupid.”
Canal+: “So, it’s dangerous, right?
Moore: “No, People try to commit suicide with it and fail; fail regularly.”
Canal+: “Tell the truth, it’s dangerous.”
Moore: “It’s not dangerous to humans.”
Canal+: “So, are you ready to drink one glass?”
Moore: “No, I’m not an idiot. Interview me about golden rice, that’s what I’m talking about.”
Canal+: “We did.”

Moore then abruptly ends the interview by calling the host a “complete jerk” and storms off.
Greenpeace, an organization to which the doctor turned lobbyist belonged in the 1970’s, issued this statement in part in 2008 regarding Dr. Patrick Moore.

Patrick Moore often misrepresents himself in the media as an environmental “expert” or even an “environmentalist,” while offering anti-environmental opinions on a wide range of issues and taking a distinctly anti-environmental stance. He also exploits long-gone ties with Greenpeace to sell himself as a speaker and pro-corporate spokesperson, usually taking positions that Greenpeace opposes.

While it is true that Patrick Moore was a member of Greenpeace in the 1970s, in 1986 he abruptly turned his back on the very issues he once passionately defended. He claims he “saw the light” but what Moore really saw was an opportunity for financial gain. Since then he has gone from defender of the planet to a paid representative of corporate polluters.

Patrick Moore promotes such anti-environmental positions as clearcut logging, nuclear power, farmed salmon, PVC (vinyl) production, genetically engineered crops, and mining. Clients for his consulting services are a veritable Who’s Who of companies that Greenpeace has exposed for environmental misdeeds, including Monsanto, Weyerhaeuser, and BHP Minerals.

Watch the video from Canal+: Original Video:  http://theantimedia.org/lobbyist-clai…

This article (Lobbyist Claims Monsanto’s Roundup Is Safe To Drink, Freaks Out When Offered A Glass) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author and TheAntiMedia.org. Tune in to the Anti-Media radio show Monday through Friday @ 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. Help us fix our typos: edits@theantimedia.org.

I’ve pointed out previously that corporations will do anything to increase profits.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 March 2015 at 10:22 am

Posted in Business

Willie Nelson prepares to launch his own line of cannabis and accessories

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James Joiner reports in the Daily Beast:

Willie Nelson takes a hit of the cigarette-sized vaporizer in his gnarled hand, exhaling a small cloud, before placing it on the foldout table in front of us. We’re seated in the cool enclave of his tour bus, at the entrance to his sprawling property just outside Austin, Texas, which he has dubbed the town of Luck. Up a hill and around a corner, people are rocking out at Willie’s own Heartbreaker Banquet, an annual fundraiser/music festival held concurrently with SXSW.

Now 81, Willie is biding his time before joining the festivities, and we’re talking about why he puts on the event every year. In the process, he lets slip that he has something else in the works: a new brand of weed, called, naturally, Willie’s Reserve.

Pressed on this, he’s either dismissive or coy, though he does indicate that the smoking implement he has again picked up is a part of the line. The PR person promises to connect me with Michael Bowman, a veteran hemp and pot lobbyist who serves as the fledgling brand’s spokesperson. Two days later, much colder, much more sober, and back in my native New England, Bowman and I connect by phone.

The discussion is below, but the rub is that the marijuana world is about to get its first connoisseur brand, edging it farther from an illegal substance and closer to the realm of fine wines.

So what exactly is Willie’s Reserve?

Well, you know, Willie has spent a lifetime in support of cannabis, both the industrial hemp side and the marijuana side. He wants it to be something that’s reflective of his passion. Ultimately, it’s his. But it was developed by his family, and their focus on environmental and social issues, and in particular this crazy war on drugs, and trying to be a bright light amongst this trail as we’re trying to extract ourselves from the goo of prohibition.

Really he wants it, at the end of the day, to envelop what his personal morals and convictions are. So from the store itself to how they’ll work with suppliers and how things are operated, it’s going to be very reflective of Willie’s life.

Wait, so there’s going to be stores?

Well, yeah, they’re in the making. I think it’s safe to say that there will be stores that roll out in the states where marijuana has become legal.

So will there be signature strains that you grow under Willie’s oversight? Or will you sell other people’s strains? . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 March 2015 at 1:56 pm

More Welfare = More Entrepreneurs?

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Interesting article discussed by Kevin Drum at Mother Jones:

Walter Frick writes in the Atlantic about recent research which suggests that a strong social safety net increases entrepreneurship. For example, one researcher found that expansion of the food stamp program led to a higher chance that eligible households would start new businesses:

Interestingly, most of these new entrepreneurs didn’t actually enroll in the food stamp program. It seems that expanding the availability of food stamps increased business formation by making it less risky for entrepreneurs to strike out on their own. Simply knowing that they could fall back on food stamps if their venture failed was enough to make them more likely to take risks.

The same is true of other programs. For example, the Children’s Health Insurance Program: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 March 2015 at 1:10 pm

Excellent James Fallows column on the Germanwings crash

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James Fallows writes at his blog in the Atlantic:

As I write I am listening to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s announcementthat the Germanwings crash in France this week was apparently a deliberate act of suicide/murder. The ramifications:

1) Has anything like this ever happened before? Yes it has. Back in 1999, EgyptAir flight 990, shortly after taking off from Kennedy airport in New York en route to Cairo, disappeared into the Atlantic Ocean off Cape Cod. In 2001, my friend and then-Atlantic-colleague William Langewiesche, who has spent all his life around aviation, wrote a celebrated story for our magazine about the evidence that the plane’s pilot had deliberately flown the aircraft into the sea. You can read “The Crash of EgyptAir 990″ online here. It is probably the most useful work of journalism to consider today.

William Langewiesche’s piece contains this observation, which so far reflects to the great credit of French and German officials:

One of the world’s really important divides lies between nations that react well to accidents and nations that do not. This is as true for a confined and technical event like the crash of a single flight as it is for political or military disasters. The first requirement is a matter of national will, and never a sure thing: it is the intention to get the story right, wherever the blame may lie. The second requirement follows immediately upon the first, and is probably easier to achieve: it is the need for people in the aftermath to maintain even tempers and open minds.

2) Could this happen in just the same way on U.S. airlines? In exactly the same way, no. In a somewhat similar way, yes.

It wouldn’t happen in exactly the same way, with one member of the flight crew left alone in the cockpit, because on U.S. airlines . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 March 2015 at 12:30 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life

Latest Assault On Net Neutrality Launched At Telecom Industry-Funded Think Tank

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Lee Fang reports in The Intercept:

Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., last week addressed the Free State Foundation to announce his new plan to undermine recently enacted net neutrality rules by going after the funding of the Federal Communications Commission, the agency behind the decision.

The FCC’s approach to net neutrality represents “potential untenable rules and regulatory overreach that will hurt consumers,” said Walden, the chair of the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, speaking at the foundation’s annual Telecom Policy Conference. Walden outlined a plan to limit FCC appropriations, cap its other revenue sources, and change the hiring process for the FCC’s inspector general.

David Segal, co-founder of Demand Progress, a pro-net neutrality group, said Walden’s remarks “underscore his allegiance to corporate interests.”

Walden’s choice of venue is telling. According to tax filings by two cable and wireless trade associations, the Free State Foundation has received nearly half a million dollars from the trade associations over the last five years. CTIA-The Wireless Association — representing Verizon, AT&T and Motorola, among others — gave the foundation $213,750. The National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the trade group for Comcast and other major cable companies, provided $280,000 to the foundation. The two trade groups intend to file a lawsuit to block the FCC’s net neutrality rules.

The Free State Foundation raised $797,500 total in 2012 but is not legally required to disclose its donors and, unlike many think tanks, does not do so voluntarily on its website. PCWorld gave the foundation an “F” rating for donor transparency. As of publication, the Free State Foundation has not responded to questions about its funders.

The Free State Foundation, founded by Randolph May, a former telecommunications attorney in Washington, D.C., describes itself as . . .

Continue reading.

Perhaps there’s always this sort of struggle between the greedy and those interested in the common welfare, but lately the power has swung heavily in favor of the greedy, and we’re all the worse off for it.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 March 2015 at 1:58 pm

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