Archive for July, 2006

I’m a Little Concerned

Tuesday, July 18th, 2006

I was totaling up the number of goofy nicknames I’ve somehow managed to come up with for my cat Madison. They’re usually paraphased with “my little… ____” This has got to stop, if someone happened to be visiting and caught me using one of these, I’d never live it down.

Hefalump
Madi-adi-kins
Madikins
Goofball
Buttmunch
Boopkiss
Doofusbrain
Goober
Snooperduper

Oh and lets not forget the two favorites -

Pooper Scooper
Scooper Pooper

because she makes me scoop a lot of poop. :)

Posted by Jim Mathies | Filed in Fun and Humor, Life | Comment now »

 

Portugal’s Healthcare

Tuesday, July 18th, 2006

While working on my Portugal trip post, I was reminded of a short conversation Laura and I had at the Quinta da Pacheca Winery with, I believe Teresa Serpa Pimentel. She and her husband founded the winery. Teresa happened by the same time Laura and I were pulling up and she stopped and chatted with us a bit. Laura and I had been discussing healthcare, so on a whim I asked Mrs. Pimentel and one of her workers about Portugals healthcare system. Portugal has socialized medical similar to Canada. In general, they described it pretty much in the same way people describe most socialized medical systems – local treatment is poor and the waiting lists are long, but if you “are really sick” you go to one of the national health centers in Lisbon or Porto where the medical care is excellent.

Posted by Jim Mathies | Filed in Health, Portugal, Travel | 1 Comment »

 

2006 Hurricane Season

Tuesday, July 11th, 2006

Katrina

Well it’s the one year anniversary of Hurricane Dennis, the third major storm to hit the Gulf Coast during the 2005 season. For my blow-by-blow check out the entries on my old Spaces blog.

So far the 2006 season has been a non-event. Although I’m sure Al Gore is kinda bummed (oh yeah, I went there), we here on the Panhandle are hoping the trend continues. :)

Posted by Jim Mathies | Filed in Weather | 1 Comment »

 

Stupid Human Tricks

Tuesday, July 11th, 2006

San Francisco based social network Bebo, which recently raised $15 million from Benchmark Capital, rejected a £300 million ($552 million) acquisition offer from British Telecom Group “a few weeks ago”, according to an insider on the transaction. Bebo’s asking price? North of $1 billion.

Link

I know of a few companies back in the Bubble V1.0 that got greedy. Not that I’m saying Bebo won’t get their asking price, but if the bottom falls out before they take an offer, they are going to regret it. The founders will also continually loose share as the venture piles up. Is this Bubble 2.0? Oh yeah.

Posted by Jim Mathies | Filed in Technology, Web 2.0 | Comment now »

 

Star Wars Redux

Thursday, July 6th, 2006

In light of the current Korean ballistic missile issue, I was planning on posting something this week akin to a thank you to Ronald Reagan for his foresight in creating the SDI initiative. Today I came across this article on meme, basically saying the same thing but targeting the democrats of past and present as the reason why SDI isn’t fully operational today. This of course is bullshit partisanship, so I’m not going to join the chorus. I did find a useful chronology of the SDI initiative on the military’s missile defense site, which indicates every president, Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton, and Bush Jr. have all had a hand in shaping what is today a rudimentary but operational system designed specifically for protecting our country from threats like Kim Jong-il. Considering the criticism Reagan originally received for a supposedly pointless system, I’d say today’s events help vindicate the overall reasoning behind SDI. Regardless of who did what with what funding, etc., I’m glad the SDI initiative continues to be developed today.

Posted by Jim Mathies | Filed in Politics, Technology | 3 Comments »

 

iPod Competitor from Microsoft?

Thursday, July 6th, 2006

New York Times – Looking to Take On Apple’s iPod, Microsoft Plans Its Own Hand-Held Player

I doubt the industrial design will be as nice, but the feature set includes exactly what the iPod and similar players like the Gigabeat are missing – wireless connectivity. Wireless connectivity is the future when it comes to digital devices in the home. Microsoft is way ahead of the competition in this area. Cables pumping media in-between digital devices and around the house is just, so, old school.

I wonder if this will push Apple to build wireless into the iPod? Unfortunately there’s no strong motivation factor for this since a wireless iPod wouldn’t be able to share non-Apple approved music and video. In fact, I’d argue Apple will play down the significance of wireless as it threatens forcing them to open up the iPod to other music formats. An Achilles’ Heal in the iPod ecosystem? Quite possibly.

Update –

I found this interesting:

The music and TV companies are interested in working with Microsoft in order to blunt Apple’s power in the market, according to people close to the media companies.

Ouch.

Link

Posted by Jim Mathies | Filed in Technology | Comment now »

 

All Your Base – Eminent Domain

Wednesday, July 5th, 2006

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Link

On June 23, 2005, the Supreme Court, in a 5–4 decision, found for the City of New London. Justice John Paul Stevens wrote the majority opinion; he was joined by Justices Anthony Kennedy, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer. Justice Kennedy also penned a concurring opinion setting out more detailed standards for judicial review of economic development takings than that found in Stevens’ majority opinion. Stevens said that local governments should be afforded wide latitude in seizing property for land-use decisions of a local nature. “The city has carefully formulated a development plan that it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community, including, but not limited to, new jobs and increased tax revenue.” The decision pre-empted criticism of the possibility that the decision would be abused for private purposes by arguing that “the hypothetical cases posited by petitioners can be confronted if and when they arise. They do not warrant the crafting of an artificial restriction on the concept of public use.”

..

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote the principal dissent, joined by Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Justice Antonin Scalia, and Justice Clarence Thomas. Justice O’Connor suggested that the use of this power in a reverse Robin Hood fashion—take from the poor, give to the rich—would become the norm, not the exception: “Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms.” She argued that the decision eliminates “any distinction between private and public use of property — and thereby effectively deletes the words ‘for public use’ from the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment.”

Link

A Costco vice president, in a frank letter to a shareholder in 2002, acknowledged that this was now normal operating procedure–that the company had initiated “dozens” of projects utilizing or threatening eminent domain to take away enough land from former tenants for its 148,000-square-foot stores. If Costco “refrained from participating in these deals,” the VP wrote, “our competitors for those sites, like Target, Home Depot, Kmart, Wal-Mart, BJ’s, Sam’s Club, and many others, would take advantage of our reticence.”

Link

I was looking at property this weekend, including some near a site for a future “big box” store. I was wondering if eminent domain might cause trouble for an investment in the area down the road if I decided to hold the property for an extended period of time. Thankfully Florida passed a law explicitly preventing this type of abuse shortly after the Supreme Court ruling. Actually, an amendment was introduces, which passed in the November elections.

In thinking about it over July 4th, my opinion of eminent domain was probably the first ‘political’ decision I made in my life. (Although at the time I didn’t realize it.) I grew up in a rural area south of Denver, which was enveloped by the Denver Tech Center as I was growing up. My parents fought DTC development and encroachment often. I asked my dad once if we could just buy up a bunch of property to keep DTC from developing the area – he told me they could take it away anyway through the courts. That didn’t seem right to me at the time, and still doesn’t feel right today. You have to be careful though, sometimes you find yourself on the other side of the fence. One of the toughest things to do is apply your base principals in all cases. This got me thinking about how this country tends to apply it’s principals haphazardly – something I had to admit to myself I have been guilty of. Sometimes It’s tough to always “do the right thing.” That’s the great thing about a day like July 4th, makes you stop and think. I ended up spending part of the day re-reading The United States Constitution and the Amendments. Always a good read.

Posted by Jim Mathies | Filed in Constitutional Law, Politics | 1 Comment »

 

Google’s Product ADD

Saturday, July 1st, 2006

Interesting article over on Business Week about Google’s failure to produce much of anything worthwhile other than search.

Company officials concede that some of the newer products haven’t caught on. But they say a high failure rate is baked into their strategy — as it is for an increasing number of innovative companies. Marissa Mayer, vice-president for search products and user experience, estimates that up to 60% to 80% of Google’s products may eventually crash and burn. But the idea, she says, is to encourage risk-taking and let surviving products truly thrive. “We anticipate that we’re going to throw out a lot of products,” says Mayer. “But [people] will remember the ones that really matter and the ones that have a lot of user potential.”

Am I just being critical again or is this the craziest approach to product development ever? “Most of our products suck, we’ll eventually throw them out.” Which products exactly? Why would I sign up and dump tons of data in any product if there’s a good chance the product, and my data, will land in the trash bin? People use products companies are fully invested in. Now I understand why most of the products Google has released have met with little success.

Posted by Jim Mathies | Filed in Technology | Comment now »