Archive for April, 2008

Filed Under (Politics, Rants) by Sean on April-30-2008

I suppose with all the wars Republicans have going on, such as the war on terror, war on drugs, war on illegal immigration, war on crime, war on gay marriage, war on abortion, war on the environment, war on science, war on education, war on health care, and many others, it should come as no surprise they have been fighting a war on economics since the Reagan era. As successful as Reaganomics has been in widening the gap between rich and poor, skewing the distribution of wealth further into the hands of the few, putting increased burden on the middle class while expecting them to go into debt to consume even more to hold up the economy, stacking up nearly insurmountable federal debt, mortgaging the country with tax cuts for the rich that are eventually paid for by everyone else, making more and more corporate welfare available to poorly run businesses, and making sure that those who have benefited most from the commonwealth don’t have to give anything back so they can pass it on to their spoiled brat children who don’t need it in the first place, there isn’t any reason to stop now!

So, you ask, “what exactly is this war on economics you’re taking about and how do I join the fight?” Well, a perfect, timely example of this is John McCain‘s proposed fuel “tax holiday” with the presumed goal of stimulating the economy while taking some of the bite out of high gas prices. Right. Let’s take a closer look at this proposed legislation, shall we?

The idea is this: we’ve got this giant sucking sound out of people’s wallets with $4 per gallon gasoline, particularly hurting the average, red blooded, good, hard working, god-fearing ‘murican who is driving a 4 ton land yacht. Compounding the issue for this good, middle class ‘murican, is that he (she of course is a stay at home mom, cleaning the floors and putting dinner on the table) lives three states away from work and has to commute for 4 hours each way, giving him even more time to listen to angry, sex-deprived, white men like himself rant on “talk” radio about the fact that it takes so much money to fill up their land yachts and how it’s all the fault of illegal immigrants and communist liberals (especially given the audacity of said latte drinkers to demand things like safety belts, catalytic converters, and bumpers!). They want relief damn it (I’m not talking about from their enlarged prostate here either)!! So, what better than to put a moratorium on federal taxes on gasoline, which amounts to $0.184 per gallon for passenger vehicles and $0.24 per gallon for trucks (the real kind that hauls freight, not your neighbor’s gilded Cataract Escapade).

To see the wisdom of this wonderful idea, let’s first determine what useless entitlements these federal taxes fund. The proceeds go into the highway trust fund to fund infrastructure such as highways, levees, and bridges, which we all know are in completely perfect shape; perfectly omnipotent market forces or the sins of residents of course explain things like Katrina and the Minneapolis bridge collapse, so why waste money on those things? Since we’re in agreement that the US Government has no business interfering in free markets by working on roads and the like, let’s go ahead and see what economic benefits are derived from this wonderful tax holiday.

The first awesome benefit to be derived from the tax holiday is to make refiners and oil companies richer! This is perfect and in accordance with Reaganomics (who undoubtedly is looking down from Peter’s right shoulder and uttering, “it is good.”). How does this ingenious plan accomplish this, you ask. In several ways. First, Americans drive more during the period in which the holiday would be in effect (i.e., summer), creating more demand. Refining capacity is a constant, constricting supply, resulting in increased prices at the pump. Second, a tax holiday may in fact spur good, flag lapel pin wearing ‘muricans into patriotically driving their land yachts rather than other means of travel (or staying home). This increases the demand for gasoline even more, escalating prices. So the net effect is that in all likelihood has prices at the pump would climb back to what they were pre-tax holiday, and adding the difference straight to oil refinery‘s profits. Brilliant!

The next economic benefit is to further mortgage the country since the revenue lost from the tax (not to fund silly entitlements like highway improvements, construction jobs or clean air, but more important things like invading more sovereign nations not run by angry white Christian men) would have to be added to the deficit, likely resulting in the shortfall being borrowed from foreign investors. We can just add this to shortfalls from things like the sub-prime mortgage success, which resulting from eliminating pesky government interference of predatory lending practices (a perfectly moral thing in a free market, right?).

“Wait a minute!” you say. “What about a windfall profit tax excised on oil companies to make up the shortfall?” This was proposed by Hillary Clinton (McBush presumably taking money instead from welfare earmarks such as education and healthcare). This is a great idea! In fact, it falls in perfectly with the other economic benefits listed above. Ronald Reagan, if alive, might leap for joy and secretly vote for Hillary in fact. Companies who will derive no marginal benefit from increased sales due to a windfall tax will of course further restrict supply to result in the optimum mix of revenue/profits such that they would yield the same profits by selling less gasoline. This reduced supply fits in perfect with the above formulas in pushing up prices, yielding no revenue benefit for the government, forcing it again to look elsewhere to make up the shortfall.

So, we continue in good King George Bush fashion with this plan, by decreeing the laws of nature and to hell with nonsensical things such as facts. This is perfectly in alignment with other brilliant Republican strategies, including but not limited to, privatizing Social Security, boundless free trade agreements, pushing abstinence as the sole means to address teen pregnancy, eliminating terrorism by pissing off as many people in the world as possible, and preaching good wholesome science like intelligent design in the classroom.

And my eyes were already welling up with tears from the loss of Premier W. It is good to see that we still have ‘publicans willing to fight the good fight for the constitutional right to have a moron for President. It also shows once again that Senator Obama seems to be the only candidate with the “temerity” to actually critically think complex things (like reality) through rather than take every opportunity to pander to voters.



Filed Under (Politics) by Sean on April-23-2008

As promised, I am posting the full chat log from the IRC channel #PennsylvaniaPrimary, created by @davewiner. This started around 7:30 CT and the log posted here goes through about midnight. I thought it was a great live backchannel in addition to Twitter (@scobleizer even joked that he thought Twitter was IRC) that wasn’t part of the public timeline, so here it is. It the raw IRC log file so you’ll see lots of superfluous information about people coming and going and other myriad IRC messages. Enjoy!

Now talking on #PennsylvaniaPrimary

<davewiner> Thanks to @adarg for the reminder

<davewiner> @adamrg

<maslowbeer> ah good fun all tweeps!

Virtudude (n=virtudud@c-76-24-20-91.hsd1.ma.comcast.net) has joined #PennsylvaniaPrimary

berryhill (n=berryhil@195.229.242.53) has joined #PennsylvaniaPrimary

agessaman (n=adam@pool-71-113-74-244.sttlwa.dsl-w.verizon.net) has joined #PennsylvaniaPrimary

GabeW (i=gwachob@pdpc/supporter/professional/GabeW) has joined #pennsylvaniaprimary

<maslowbeer> there we go :)

Read the rest of this entry »



Filed Under (Stuff, Technology) by Sean on April-21-2008

If you are not seeing updates for people you follow on twitter through the web or your favorite client (e.g., twhirl, etc.), you are not alone! Be sure to go to this page and report it! Furthermore, tell everyone to do the same if they’re also experiencing the same problem. Let’s see if we can get about 20,000+ people to get the attention of the twitter people and at least get an update to what’s going on!

(UPDATE)

It appears if you visit this page, they have acknowledged the problem (I presume it’s the same issue noted here from a month ago). See if having them clear your cache solves the problem. I have asked them to clear mine and will post the results here.

(UPDATE 2)

I got this tweet from @biz indicating they are working on the issue. Ironically the only way I got it is running tweetscan on my nick.

(UPDATE 3)

Yes, twitter is still broken. They haven’t cleared my cache or anything, so far as I can tell; I still only see a portion of my twitter stream. The problem seems to only affect the intersection of people with large amounts of followers with those who follow a decent amount of people. E.g., if you follow more than a few dozen people you won’t see tweets from the likes of @scobleizer, who has over 20,000 followers. Likewise, if you follow over 100 people, you won’t see tweets from people who have over 300 followers. I haven’t nailed it down precisely yet, but there is certainly a mathematical function to this. I hope they fix it soon! In the meantime, you can go surf each of your followees individual pages and/or subscribe to their tweets separately with an RSS reader.

I wish they would give us more technical details – there certainly is more tech knowhow on twitter they could tap into to fix the problem. I know they use Amazon S3 and perhaps EC2 for their infrastructure and some sort of caching mechanism (for performance and/or cost reasons?) that isn’t doing it’s job. Obviously writing a simple web app to do what twitter does would be fairly trivial to not have problems, at the expense of cpus, disk space and bandwidth; this leads me to believe they’re trying to be fancy, and it isn’t working so well. IMHO they should have a “brute force” fallback that would work 100% albeit not optimally until they sort it all out.



Filed Under (Politics, Rants) by Sean on April-16-2008

So every once and a while you read something that really fires you up. Yesterday was one of those instances. I was lying in bed, peacefully scrolling through the last several hours of tweets that I had missed while sleeping (in today’s case that would have been between 7 am and 1 pm; yeah, my schedule is that screwed up), and I came across a tweet from @nprnewsblog, whom I follow on Twitter:

nprnewspic4.jpg

Intriguing, I thought, and hardly debatable. I usually read the really controversial stuff and would have typically passed this over completely but thought I would at least get the pulse of what diplomats had to say about the subject. So I clicked on the link. It was a decent account of what, again, seemed to be obvious. Quoted in the article was an excerpt from study by Quinnipiac University professor of public relations Kathy Fitzpatrick:

An overwhelming majority (88 percent) of more than 200 former high-ranking officers in the United States Information Agency who participated in the study said the U.S. is not diplomatically prepared to address ideological threats to U.S. interests in the 21st century …

More than 80 percent of the former USIA officers rated American public diplomacy efforts today as either “poor” or “marginal.” In contrast, more than 80 percent of the former USIA officers rated America’s public diplomacy efforts during the Cold War as “good” or “excellent.”

Sounds good – again, nothing earth shattering. Then I see the following thoroughly well thought out, insightful comment by our good buddy deek:

LOL, what else would we expect from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates?

The center’s of Jihad are supposed to like us?

Sent by deek | 11:01 AM ET | 04-15-2008

Yeah, that got me out of bed. I went straight to the computer, before having any coffee or food (which is a very serious thing for those that know me), and hammered out the following response in 90 seconds:

Boy comments like deek’s show the ignorance and impudence of the neo-conservative’s school yard adolescent bully mindset. You may recall that we actually won the cold war, resoundingly in fact. If the Bushies were in office at the time we would have certainly started WWW3 and none of us would be alive because of it. Even during (failed) shows of force like the Bay of Pigs and crises like the Cuban missile crisis among others, diplomacy shows its deftness of in being able to obtain the net result desired, in spite of these failings. If we took a similar tact in the current terrorism threat, we perhaps could win the war of ideas necessary to ultimately make us safer and ultimately prevail; the current strategy (or lack thereof) is not only ineffective, it does quite the opposite, further fomenting “jihadism.”

It is becoming increasingly clear to me how collectively immature the Bush neocon ideology is. The pre-pubescent school yard bully is an appropriate metaphor. Do you actually want to accomplish greatness in your life and truly lead or is your ego so frail you have to constantly show everyone how bad ass you are? The true leader is one who can show force but never does. Ultimately the bully always ends up at the short end of the stick later in life. Let’s do our best to put the dark days of W behind us and have some intelligent, enlightened leaders do what’s necessary to actually protect our interests rather than continuing our current weak, pathetic, and insipid “war on terror.”

Sent by Sean | 3:38 PM ET | 04-15-2008

So I wasn’t shy and didn’t pull any punches. Even though I suppose I could have taken a few minutes to compose a more proper argument, I still stand by what I wrote. Just when I start to regain some hope about the human condition, I read or hear this type of crap spewing out of some jackass’ mouth and my cynicism resurfaces.

As an inherently progressive species, it appears there are still those amongst us who want to divide us and hold humanity back for their own gain or sense of self worth. I will be writing a lot more about this and other political hot buttons in the coming weeks.

I will forever be optimistic, but it is certainly up to us to pave the way for change. I’m finding in my reading and discussions with other progressives that it is imperative we begin speaking out on our values and vision for America. That is the only way we can reclaim this nation from the grips of the insidious neocon spin machine.

 



Filed Under (Life, Stuff) by Sean on April-10-2008

Well I’m not 100% sure if it’s in the same tier as beer when it comes to the hierarchy of needs, but being on Alltop.com is pretty effing bad ass. And check this out – I’m listed twice on Alltop.com. Once under life.alltop.com and once under twitterati.alltop.com (apparently my irreverent drunk tweets are amusing to some)! What can I say? (In reality I stole Guy Kawasaki’s Glock from him and demanded the listing, but it’s the results that count, right??) Alltop.com is a virtual magazine rack, where you can choose from a huge variety of topics and get a quick scan of the content from each source by just hovering over your interest. So go check out Alltop.com now!

We’re in Alltop.com!

 

Twitterati on Alltop.com!

In any case, Guy quickly got up into a crane stance and deftly kicked the gun from my hands and pointed it back at me. He told me I better put up some Alltop.com badges!! While I cannot hold a candle to the badges created by the Bloggess, I was nevertheless inspired.

It’s better than allcrap!

It’s better than allcrap!

Eat your heart out Guy!



Filed Under (Business, Technology) by Sean on April-4-2008

I’m usually very loathe to simply link out to another blog’s content, but I thought, with tax season upon us, this post was worth a mention. I think it’s a tremendous testament to social media when a company the size of H&R Block (and one that is in the tax business of all things) embraces social media to strengthen brand awareness. I encourage you to read the whole thing, but I’ve pasted three paragraphs below from the story that relate directly to H&R Block’s use of Twitter. Who ever thunk it?

When people join Twitter, they often send an update out into the world and then go away. Nothing happens. So they don’t get it.” But once they move in to Twitterville, as you call it, and really listen and reply and become part of the community, they’re addicted. There’s nothing like it.

When it comes to truly connecting with customers, I’d say that Twitter has been the most valuable and most effective component of our social media efforts. I went back and looked at our update archive and I realized that more than half of our updates are “@ replies.” Not only have we shared tax tips and advice that serve the general community, but on a one-to-one basis we’ve helped people get jobs and professional tax training.

We’ve helped others overcome the anxiety associated with doing their taxes on their own for the first time. We’re having a blast participating in @zefrank’s Colorwars (how could H&R Block resist a “veryGreenTeam”?). We’ve discovered and resolved customer support issues and we’ve met and thanked very happy customers. It sounds crazy, but I actually feel like H&R Block has made some friends on Twitter. We even had a customer call us out as part of @garyvee’s Good People Day! We couldn’t ask for more than that.



Filed Under (Internet, Life, Stuff) by Sean on April-2-2008

Ok, fellow peeps, tweeps, lurkers and whoever else out there on da Interwebz – April 3, 2008 is officially Good People Day!

I could not possibly compile a list of all the awesome people out there in my life and my new and quickly growing social media friends on Twitter and other networks, since it would crash Firefox from taking up terabytes of memory! Gary Vaynerchuk, the most awesome host of Wine Library TV, came up with the idea for Good People Day (see the video below calling us to action!). It’s all about spreading the love and positive karma. For me, this includes all my tweeps and fellow twitterati, all my fantastic social network friends, and many nameless people that hang out in the numerous IRC channels and lend help to those like me who often cry out for it when we can’t get something to work. Gary is truly a role model for this spirit of helping and generosity. He literally answers hundreds of emails and tweets a day to people he doesn’t even know who ask about wine. Just the other day I was asking him advice via a tweet about a certain 1997 Merryvale Profile and whether I should drink or cellar it. His direct message to me within minutes, “DRINK IT.” This is at 10:41pm his time on a Saturday night! How much love is that? And he doesn’t know me from Adam other than as a fellow twitterati (though you certainly don’t have to be a top twitterati to get a quick response from him!).

So I’m sending out much love and positive karma to all those who save my bacon and otherwise lend a helping hand, and to those who follow me on twitter, read my blog or have any interest in what I have to say. This goes to all my close friends, family and total strangers (whom I hope to meet someday at a tweetup or meet up or camp)! Try not to complain or be negative and extend the golden rule to the maximum to everyone you interact with, on line or off. I vote we make April 3 Good People Day every year!

PASS IT ON and keep showing the love!