Crash Test Dummies

May 11, 2011

The Indian Air Force is about to spend $10 billion on new fighter planes. That’s a lot of employment and corporate profit for whoever wins the bid. They have now disqualified both US proposals, one from Boeing and the other from Lockheed, leaving two European planemakers in the contest.

Now, I don’t have a great deal of interest in these kinds of deals but my attention was caught by this particular paragraph:

“The two European fighters are generally seen as aerodynamically superior, having outperformed both US-made aircraft in tests under the adverse climatic conditions in which they might have to be used, particularly in the high altitudes and low temperatures of northern Kashmir. Experts suggest that the American planes are technologically ten years behind the European ones.

How can that be? How can that be? Don’t the US military-industrial complex get half a trillion dollars each and every year? And they are ten years behind? At least ten Maddof-sized scams are being pulled on the US taxpayer each and every year by these corporations and their bureaucratic brothers.

The true inefficiency of the US state-capitalist system is about equal to the inefficiency of the former-USSR state-capitalist system. We are seeing the warping effect this has on the economy all around us, with massive systemic failures in health care, industrial manufacturing, unemployment, budget deficits and bubbles of every kind. What the hell would happen to the American economy if peace broke out? The War on Terrorism, the War on Drugs, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, etc: these are all vital inputs that drive the machine and the corporations.

And none of this is new; many people have understood this for a long time.  The term “peace dividend” was even floated in the early 1990s after the Ruskies threw in the towel.  But now, two decades later, we find the US ever deeper in the mire.  It is hard to know how to unravel the socialist-style dependence the rest of the US economy has on these unsustainable levels of defense spending. In the end, it is hard to see anything other than a true crash.

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Reason #203 To Avoid Facebook

May 11, 2011

Even if Facebook was not the charming front-end to a massive corporate/government conspiracy to tap into and control your very thoughts (which it is) it would still be important to avoid Facebook because of their incompetent security.

Yet again this week we have a story about “leakage” of important personal data from Facebook to third parties:

Symantec has discovered that in certain cases, Facebook IFRAME applications inadvertently leaked access tokens to third parties like advertisers or analytic platforms. We estimate that as of April 2011, close to 100,000 applications were enabling this leakage. We estimate that over the years, hundreds of thousands of applications may have inadvertently leaked millions of access tokens to third parties.

This is scary stuff; and the fact that most people simply ignore it is even more scary.

Avoid Facebook, folks, and live a longer happier life without the Man peering over your shoulder all day.

Previous reasons to avoid Facebook.


Class Warfare

May 10, 2011


An Inconvenient Convenience

May 9, 2011

As longtime readers will know, I look forward each summer to the three major cycling road races: the Giro D’Itali, the Tour de France and the Vuelta Espana.  Each of them gives me three weeks of excellent racing between now and September, and they each are perfectly timed for an early riser like me.  TV coverage usally covers the last 90 minutes of each day’s racing starting at 6:30am.  This morning, I got up before six and was comfortably esconced on my sofa with a steaming cup of tea when the broadcast began and I thoroughly enjoyed the first quarter hour or so.

And then it hit me: an ad for a Toronto radio station. It hit me several times over the next hour and annoyed me more and more on each hearing.  The problem?  The whole point of the commercial was to say that their morning commute programme was as full and complete and interesting as the daily newspaper — but without the inconvenience of actually having to read.

Good God!  Are we really selling stuff on the basis that reading is inconvenient?  Come on!  What a terrible, terrible message to send. Radio and advertizing and the listening public deserve better than that.  And yes, you can say that I’m making a mountain out of the molehill of some clever ad copy. But if these kind of things are not picked up and talked about then what they say becomes normalized, acceptable.  And that is not acceptable to me.


Hanging Gardens

May 7, 2011

The “Hanging Gardens” at Sun Yat Sen Park in Vancouver


Taking One For The Team

May 6, 2011

According to Harold Camping, a radio-evangelist who has several millions of followers around the world — enough to send him more than $120 million — the world will come to an end at 6pm on 21st May this year, just a couple of weeks away.   The Reverend Camping knows this because he has mathematically proven the date from multiple verses in the Bible.

The Reverend Camping is so certain he is right — even though he was wrong when he made the same prediction in 1994 (“At that time there was a lot of the Bible I had not really researched very carefully,” he said last week. “But now…”) — that he has paid for 2,000 billboards across the States to display his warning of the coming apocalypse. Not only that, he has hired believers to man logoed camper vans in which they drive across all 50 States to push the message.

I am neither mathematician nor theologian enough to take on the Reverend Camping’s predictions. But I do recall that Jesus once said that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdon of Heaven.  So, as a gesture of friendship — taking one for the team as it were — I am willing to accept all the Reverend’s followers’ money on or before 20th May.

It would be terrible, wouldn’t it, to be one of the Chosen and yet still get rejected at the Pearly Gates because you have too much money?  Wouldn’t that just be awful?  I’m willing to save all his followers from that terrible fate.

Send checks or bearer bonds to me c/o my email address and prepare to meet your maker comfortabley knowing that you do so naked of both wisdom and treasure.


Flower Offering For Spring

May 4, 2011

Flower Offering