Sunday, January 31, 2010

Gates Foundation Plans To Invest $10B Into Vaccines

Microsoft didn't put the patent laws into place, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation did. What, you thought those medicines were free? No, they came with the requirement that your country signs a trade treaty with the USA, bringing your patent system into line with theirs. You get the vaccines now, but you've just made it much harder to develop a native information economy, and you've probably just bought another decade or two of poverty for the majority of the population. Yay for altruism.

Big Pharma will love it. Bill buys $10bn of vaccines from them. They get the money. Then, he gives the vaccines to people in other countries on the condition that their government signs a treaty with the USA to enforce patents, like the ones on the vaccines. When the vaccines run out, the people in these countries start demanding that their government keeps supplying them. Unfortunately, they've just signed a treaty that prevents them from producing them locally, so now they have to go to Big Pharma and buy them. What's not to like?

Why did you bring up Microsoft? The comment that you are replying to has nothing to do with Microsoft. It has to do with the B&MGF's policy of requiring countries that benefit from their 'altruism' to sign IP treaties with the USA that prevent local production of the vaccines in question. Over the course of a decade, their 'donations' reduce the total amount of vaccines that will reach the people in the countries in question. Free vaccine now, but only if you make sure that the local company that could produce it for $1 never starts so when the donated vaccines run out you have to buy it for $200 from a US company. Sounds altruistic...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Democracy in Action!

The dogs have voted!

.. and they form a majority.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Wives of Rockstar San Diego employees

To whomever it may concern,

In response to the unfortunate circumstances, some wives of Rockstar San Diego employees have collected themselves to assert their concerns and announce a necessary rejoinder, in the form of an immediate action to ameliorate conditions of employees.

The turning for the worse came approximately in the month of March of 2009. Till present, the working conditions persists to deteriorate as employees are manipulated by certain hands that wield the reigns of power in Rockstar San Diego. Furthermore, the extent of degradation employees have suffered extends to their quality of life and their family members. Though it is presumed, this unfortunate circumstance is due largely to ignorance and unawareness of most, with enlightened knowledge, action must be taken to protect the rights of employees and those who depend on them. Realizing that such broad claims could hardly spark any interest to take a stand, a better illustration of the wrongs made unto Rockstar San Diego workers is necessary. Futhermore, the detailed descriptions about to be given can serve as a starting point as it will provide a clearer direction for change.

As a R* employee for a certain amount of years, let me first say that I feel like a proud citizen of my clan, but I like many of my peers seek a reprieve from the issues that the wives have boldly brought to the media's attention. I suppose I've been one to personally let things slide a lot over the last few months as I work many long hours, many of which I feel have been somewhat forced upon me, because I love my job so much, and every second I spend in my chair in front of my screen is only a second that comes completely natural to me. I like to make games, and I like to solve game problems. That being said, I also have a very supportive significant other half, and we have no children to feed and spend time with. Also because I'm in fairly good health, I don't find myself complaining about quality of life so much as I may complain of other issues at the studio that directly affect me. But I also do have close friends at the studio who have had their health and lives deteriorated in some way, and whether or not the long hours have directly contributed to these ailments, it certainly hasn't helped. And just because I may feel just fine today doesn't mean I'll still feel fine tomorrow or months down the road when it all catches up to me. And I acknowledge the day we have a child of our own may be a day of reckoning.

The blaming finger can be pointed in various directions here, but here's my take on the situation: We're producing a fantastic game right now, but in times past, it seemed to have little in the way of direction or conception. If it did indeed have these attributes, they were largely lost upon the majority of the development team, and many of us had little knowledge of what kind of product we were actually trying to put out there. I think we all do now, but it's in no thanks at all to any concerted effort whatsoever to actively motivate the team and evangelize the product to the developers themselves. I do believe that many of us didn't see how what we were doing could be important when we didn't really know what kind of game we're supposed to be making. Ultimately, I think we've all sort of "figured it out" and things started falling into place, but at the same time, I think this collective realization has put the pressure on all of us, management included, that we really need to nail this thing and get it out on shelves on time. There were extended core hours, frustrations rising, and then a false promise of the dropping of mandatory Saturdays, which seemed to last for about three such Saturdays.

But, perhaps an unsung root of the problems we face is a technical one, where many hours of productivity are wasted by everyone just waiting to get a build of the game that actually runs every time we need to update anything. Without getting too technical, lets just say that most of us are not happy with our build pipeline, and there are hundreds of errors and showstoppers that slow the game iteration down very significantly, in addition to many thousands of warnings that developers have littered about in both the build pipeline and the actual game itself for what we would assume are valid reasons, that pop up and nag, but there seems to be little effort on the part of the technical leads to enforce that these warnings be addressed. This I believe has brought us to where we are today. If these problems were minimized from the start, the game would have progressed much more quickly, and there would not be this frantic realization of being behind schedule and over-budget in the last year of development.

What Bitter PartyOfMany says about the "boys in New York" is also spot-on. For years there seemed to be indifference on the part of the big wigs everybody knows are really in charge, and the product never seemed to have true leaders. Directives come from people local to San Diego, when months later they are overridden arbitrarily by New York folks and work gets re-done, until they lose interest again or change their minds. Then of course we suffer their sustained scrutiny and sudden interest in what we're doing only in the last few months of development, and the weight and power they command often intimidates many of the leads at R* SD to the point where they may unnecessarily impose unreasonable expectations on the development team for the completion of a particular feature or bug fix, which may often not be universally agreed upon as particularly important.

When it's all said and done, I love my studio, I love my game, and I love my team, and I wouldn't give this up for the world. I just would like to see things improve for all of us, including our management.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

FCC Brain Drain

This all goes back to the days of Bill Clinton. The truth of the matter is, he didn't have sexual relations with any woman. There are even rumours that he is still a virgin. Chelsea is actually the result of Hillary reproducing asexually, under the reason that no one would want to regularily. This genetic mutation is considered an evolutionary advantage to some, so valuable that they want to keep it secret. This is why there was so much news surrounding Jenna Bush and none around Chelsea.

They ran some tests on CC. She has shown not only the ability to reproduce look alikes (see Hilary Duff), but also other another mutant power; laser eyes. Cyclops is actually an inspired character based on Chelsea. She currently works at Cern, powering the LHC with her amazing gifts. But as we all know, not everything is as it seems. We've all heard the stories about how the LHC is going to create black holes and destroy the Earth. It IS going to happen, in 2012, its a proven fact. It's all part of the Democrats plan. Why you ask? Despite beating the Republicans in the elections its never enough. They held a secret meeting in a hotel board room where they discussed ways to get rid of the Republicans for good. The vote was unanimous: Destroy the Earth.

So we were completely safe for 8 years while George was in power. He of course staged 9-11 to start the War on Terror so that he could reduce the amount of liquids allowed on airplanes, thus keeping the American population from over-hydration. A disguised way to protect us all from the looming threat of too much water. Water, angry in a fit of rage, retaliated with Hurricane Katrina.

And now we've got Obama back in power. How can you be certain he is in on the plan to black-hole the Earth? CHANGE. You know what another word for Change is? MUTATE. Remember Chelsea? Bingo! And look at those ears! They can't be natural! I know what you are thinking: What does all of this have to do with the FCC - the one loose knot left to tie. All the Engineers are leaving: Why? Joining CERN at the LHC. All the Economists are leaving: Why? They are needed to keep up the ruse that the economy is getting better, just long enough to keep order until the LHC can create a black hole. Of course the FCC's Administration is failing. It is under direct attack by the worlds most organized, powerful, and underhanded groups. A group which is hellbent on making sure the entire world is destroyed. And nothing, no silly Commission started a long time ago, is going to stand in their way.

Ladies and Gentlemen, its already too late.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Being White - Louis CK

Adam’s Family Jewels

“And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and He took the bone of Adam’s penis and made him a woman.”

Er, wait, wasn’t it from one of Adam’s ribs that Eve was created?

Not according to Ziony Zevit. A professor of Semitic languages at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles Zevit posits that the Hebrew word tsela (literally “side,” but traditionally translated as “rib”) employed in Genesis refers in fact to Adam’s member.

In court we swear to tell the truth with a hand placed on the Bible. But in the book itself, Jacob, nearing death in Egypt, asks Joseph to swear an oath not to bury him there by “put[ting] your hand under my thigh” (Gen. 47:29). Earlier in Genesis, Jacob wrestles with God, who touches “the hollow of his [Jacob’s] thigh” (32:25). “Thigh” happens to be a biblical euphemism for male genitalia; it’s from Jacob’s “thigh” or “loins” that his numerous offspring sprang. The practice of swearing an oath while touching one’s or someone else’s testicles was common in the ancient Near East (Abraham also orders a servant to do just that in Genesis 24:2). Its linguistic memory survives in our word “testify”—testis being the Latin both for “witness” and the male generative gland.

Friday, January 08, 2010

The People vs Larry Flynt (NSFW)

Not Safe for Work!

Minute 42 to 45:40 - What is more obscene? (Can't find the clip on youtube, so text below)

Murder is illegal. But, you take a picture of somebody committing the act of murder and they'll put you on the cover of Newsweek. You might even win a Pulitzer Prize. And yet . . . sex is legal. Everybody's doing it, or everybody wants to be doing it. Yet, you take a picture of two people in the act of sex of just take a picture of a woman's naked body and they'll put you in jail. Now, I have a message for all you good, moral, Christian people who are complaining that breasts and vaginas are obscene. Hey, don't complain to me, complain to the manufacturer. Okay and although Jesus told us not to judge, I know you're going to judge anyway so judge sanely--judge with your eyes open.

I think the real obscenity comes from raising out youth to believe that sex is bad and ugly and dirty. And yet, it is heroic to go spill guts and blood in the most ghastly manner in the name of humanity. With all the taboos attached to sex, it's no wonder we have the problems we have. It's no wonder were angry and violent and genocidal. But, ask yourself the question, what is more obscene: sex or war?

Larry Flynt on Reverend Gerry Falwell: "I always appreciated his sincerity even though I knew what he was selling and he knew what I was selling."

Indecent Comment on an Indecent Subject

Steve Russell, retired after 16 years as a trial judge in Texas, is Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

In cyberspace, there is no place. The "community standards" are those of the whole world. An upload from Amsterdam can become a download in Idaho. By trying to regulate obscenity and indecency on the Internet, you have reduced the level of expression allowed consenting adults to that of the most anal retentive blueballed fuckhead U.S. attorney in the country. The Internet is everywhere you can plug in a modem. Call Senator Exon an "ignorant motherfucker" in Lincoln, Nebraska and find yourself prosecuted in Bibleburg, Mississippi.

This is bullshit -- unconstitutional bullshit and also bad policy bullshit. To violate your ban on indecency, I have been forced to use and overuse so-called indecent language. But if I called you a bunch of goddam motherfucking cocksucking cunt-eating blue-balled bastards with the morals of muggers and the intelligence of pond scum, that would be nothing compared to this indictment, to wit: you have sold the First Amendment, your birthright and that of your children. The Founders turn in their graves. You have spit on the grave of every warrior who fought under the Stars and Stripes.

And what mess of pottage have you acquired in exchange for the rights of a free people? Have you cleansed the Internet of even the rawest pornography? No, because it is a worldwide system. You have, however, handed the government a powerful new tool to harass its critics: a prosecution for indecent commentary in any district in the country.

inappropriate and unacceptable

No words are more typical of our moral culture than “inappropriate” and “unacceptable.” They seem bland, gentle even, yet they carry the full force of official power. When you hear them, you feel that you are being tied up with little pieces of soft string.

But this new, neutralised language does not spell any increase in freedom. When I call your action indecent, I state a fact that can be controverted. When I call it inappropriate, I invoke an institutional context—one which, by implication, I know better than you. Who can gainsay the Lord Chamberlain when he pronounces it “inappropriate” to wear jeans to the Queen’s garden party? This is what makes the new idiom so sinister. Calling your action indecent appeals to you as a human being; calling it inappropriate asserts official power.

The point can be generalised. As a society, we strive to eradicate moral language, hoping to eliminate the intolerance that often accompanies it. But intolerance has not been eliminated, merely thrust underground. “Inappropriate” and “unacceptable” are the catchwords of a moralism that dare not speak its name. They hide all measure of righteous fury behind the mask of bureaucratic neutrality. For the sake of our own humanity, we should strike them from our vocabulary.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

How China Won and Russia Lost

On a dark November night in 1978, 18 Chinese peasants from Xiaogang village in Anhui province secretly divided communal land to be farmed by individual families, who would keep what was left over after meeting state quotas. Such a division was illegal and highly dangerous, but the peasants felt the risks were worth it. The timing is significant for our story. The peasants took action one month before the “reform” congress of the party was announced. Thus, without fanfare, began economic reform, as spontaneous land division spread to other villages. One farmer said, “When one family’s chicken catches the pest, the whole village catches it. When one village has it, the whole county will be infected.”

Ten years later, in August of 1988, Mikhail Gorbachev lifted his nation’s 50-year-old prohibition against private farming, offering 50-year leases to farm families who would subsequently work off of contracts with the state. Few accepted the offer; Russian farmers were too accustomed to the dreary but steady life on the state or collective farm. Thus began reform of agriculture in Soviet Russia.

The results in each country could not have been more different. Chronically depressed Chinese agriculture began to blossom, not only for grain but for all crops. As farmers brought their crops to the city by bicycle or bus, long food lines began to dwindle and then disappear. The state grocery monopoly ended in less than one year. Soviet Russian agriculture continued to stagnate despite massive state subsidies. Citizens of a superpower again had to bear the indignity of sugar rations.

Throughout the reform process, the Chinese Communist Party simply reacted to (and wisely did not oppose) bottom-up reform initiatives that emanated largely from the rural population. Deng Xiaoping’s famous description of Chinese reform as “fording the river by feeling for the stones” is not incorrect, but it was the Chinese people who placed the stones under his feet.

Mikhail Gorbachev became general secretary of his party in March of 1985. By that time, he knew that the Chinese reforms were successful. His reforms, contrary to the popular narrative, closely mimicked China’s. He proposed to lease land to peasants, establish free trade zones, promote small cooperative businesses, and set up joint ventures. The difference was that Gorbachev imposed these changes from above, on an urban economy in which virtually all citizens worked for the state. Gorbachev’s reforms either were ignored or they were enacted with perverse consequences. Bottom-up reforms worked in China; top-down reforms failed in Russia.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Winston on Market Failure and Government Failure

Clifford Winston of the Brookings Institution talks about the ideas in his book, Market Failure vs. Government Failure, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Winston summarizes a large literature on antitrust, safety regulation and environmental regulation. He finds that government regulation often fails to meet its objectives. While markets are imperfect, so is government. Winston argues that idealized theories of government intervention based on textbook theories of market failure are not the way regulation turns out in practice. He argues that special interest politics explains much of the disappointing outcomes of government regulation.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Selling China Long-Term Innovation Assets

On my way back from Beijing in December, I sat in front of a corporate guy who was returning to the US after pitching a deal to sell tens of thousands of electric car charging stations in China. He was talking to a California software guy, also returning after pitching after pitching a deal. Their exchange was all about the polite fiction that US companies are selling products to China when they are really selling their best technologies—for the lower price and profits of products. It’s short-term real gains over long-term potential profits.

Here is the essence of what I heard:

1-China is demanding technology transfer for the deal for electric car charging stations pretty much for the price of entry and for the price of the product alone. US, European, Korean and Japanese companies have known this and done this for the past 20 years. Most countries pay extra for the technology and most companies refuse to sell their best. China is getting cutting edge technology at almost no cost.

2- China can do this not only because of its enormous market but because it is the ONLY market for many products and services. China is building large numbers of high speed trains. The US is not. China is building hundreds of thousands of urban electric car charging stations. The US is not. China is spending $800 billion to make its electric transmission lines “smart.” The US is spending $8 billion. Corporations go to expanding markets. They have no choice today.

3- China is running a national, mercantilist economy policy that both state-owned and privately owned companies follow. Technology transfer is focussed on building Chinese global companies that can compete with US, Japanese and European corporations. Investment and trade are not just about raising living standards (if they were, then Beijing would let the yuan rise, increase the buying power of China’s consumers, and boost their living standards). They are about building national and global economic and political strength.

4—US companies know they are building their own competitors in China but feel they have no choice. They need that choice or the future long-term growth prospects for the US will grow dimmer and dimmer. China is playing a serious national innovation game. Good for China. The US is not. Bad for America.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

emotional issue?

Secret History of Credit Card

NARRATOR: But what really attracted Citibank to South Dakota was an obscure Supreme Court decision that said a bank could now export its interest rate to other states. It was called the Marquette decision.

BEN STEIN: The credit card companies hate people like me, who pay off our bills every month. And I know that because I ran into a fellow I went to high school with on the street, and he told me he worked for a credit card company. And I told him about how much I use credit cards and how I pay them off every month, and he said, "Oh, we hate you. We hate you guys. We call you deadbeats."

NARRATOR: "Deadbeats," in the upside-down world of the credit card business, are the people like Ben Stein, who pay off their bills on time. The industry's best customers are the 90 million Americans who don't pay off their credit card debt. They're called the "revolvers."

PAT WALLACE: Providian, for example, was accepting payments from consumers on their accounts, depositing the checks but not crediting the account for sometimes up to several weeks. What was the net result of that? Invariably, the consumer got a late charge.

LOWELL BERGMAN: They were holding payments so that they could charge late fees and they could charge overdraft fees and—