The Crimson Blog

Views and Social Commentary about News of the Day, Society, and Technology

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AIG Paying Bonuses After Receiving Bailout?

March 16th, 2009 by Rick
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AIG recently disclosed that it will be paying out $165 million in bonuses, despite having recently received billions of dollars in U.S. Government bailout money.

AIG says that it is contractually obligated to pay out these bonuses, and that it risks extended litigation if it does not pay out.

People on both the left and the right are rightly outraged at this disclosure.

How is it that any employee of AIG receives bonuses in an environment where the company lost billions, nearly went out of business, and only remained in business thanks to intervention by the U.S. Government using taxpayer funds?

  • If AIG proposes any excuse for this payout, then frankly, the bonus system there is severely broken and needs immediate repair.
  • Those who demand bonuses in this environment should have their employment terminated.
  • Any Government-installed management team who defends this practice should be removed.

Let there be no question – those in oversight, and those immediately involved with the largest corporate loss in U.S. history should be fired immediately.

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Stewart vs. Cramer

March 14th, 2009 by Rick
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So, many of us have seen the spectacle of Jon Stewart on the Daily Show skewering Jim Cramer and CNBC.  And then the big showdown between Stewart and Cramer on the Daily Show.

Frankly, it was a bit anti-climatic.  Stewart seemed to have his lines of attack all set up and ready to go, while Cramer seemed to mostly crawl into his shell.

I do have to agree with Tucker Carlson, though (who himself has bore the brunt of a Stewart attack).  Had Cramer been a clear Obama supporter, would we have seen anything near this level of vitriol and hype?  Not likely.

But then again, Stewart is the host of a comedy show, and certainly is not held up to a journalistic standard.

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Olympics and the Chinese Century?

August 9th, 2008 by Rick
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I was reading someone’s impression of the Olympics opening ceremony this evening.

After viewing the ceremony, he remarked that he thought this was the end of the “American Century” and the beginning of the “Chinese Century”.

What?

You sit in your easy chair mesmerized by the spectacle of a blaze of fireworks, music, well-auditioned flag bearers and card-flippers………..and you’re ready to declare this the “Chinese Century”??

America may not have had its best face on recently, but I hardly think that the Chinese have much to crow about either – have you considered the violent suppression of opposing viewpoints?  The oppression of Tibetans and their religious leader, the Dalai Lama?  The human violations in Darfur?  The censorship of free press and the Internet?  The tainting of food products (and pet products, no less) bound for the U.S.?

The Chinese Century?

Hardly.

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3G iPhone on the Horizon?

April 26th, 2008 by Rick
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Rumor has it that Apple’s iPhone 2.0 with 3G Network is nearing launch in the U.S., possibly this coming Summer.  Reports are that the phone is already undergoing its shakedown testing with selected users in different parts of the country.

Other than 3G, the newest iPhone is rumored to have a GPS feature, a slight increase in thickness due to a possible thicker battery and the 3G chipset, a gloss black back cover (vs. the nickel cover on the current iPhone).  Otherwise, the form factor is reportedly very similar to the current model.

The biggest deal is the 3G (third generation) Network, which should mean significantly faster web surfing and e-mail transmission/receipt.

Someone alert Karl Rove!

(Rove is a well-known enthusiastic iPhone early adopter).

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Gordon and the Contestants

April 18th, 2008 by Rick
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Yesterday, during a visit to Washington, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown met separately with each of the U.S. Presidential Candidates, Senator John McCain, Senator Hillary Clinton, and Senator Barack Obama.

Was it just me, or did it look like a astonishingly bizarre beauty pageant, with each of the candidates seeking to look the most Presidential?

In the end, it was actually Gordon Brown who appeared the most Presidential.

Sigh.

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ABC and the Debate Spectacle

April 17th, 2008 by Rick
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What was that spectacle ABC put on last night?

It wasn’t really a debate between Democratic Candidates, as much as it was a littany of “gotcha” moments between moderators and Candidates.

Any real substantive issue was not covered until well into the 1st hour of the program.  Instead, the moderators seemed hell bent on examining every gaffe, mis-statement, controversy thus far in the campaign season.

This is not a Republican or a Democratic issue.  This is a media issue.  It was a bad night for American Journalism, and this is definitely not the kind of debate I want to see in the General Election.

Maybe I’m just old-fashioned, but I for one, am interested in the issues of the day, and how they impact our Country.

Or maybe I’ve just found myself in some weird parallel universe.

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The Subprime Mortgage Mess and the Folly of Bailouts

April 14th, 2008 by Rick
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I will be one of the first to admit that the subprime mortgage meltdown in the U.S. is harrowing and completely devastating for whole swaths of the U.S. economy.  Foreclosures are occurring left and right, and the areas hardest hit are seeing entire sections of neighborhoods now sitting empty, due to foreclosures.  The societal impacts are heavy as well – entire families being displaced, businesses being shuttered if they have any relation or proximity to the housing or mortgage banking markets.

That being said, what appalls me even more are the calls for a Federal “bailout”, by Congress and even the Presidential Candidates.

Bailout?  Why?

Whose fault is it that millions of these homeowners entered VOLUNTARILY into highly risky “boutique” interest-only mortgages?

Whose fault is it that people who had no business buying homes were buying homes, due to inadequate income, or insufficient up-front liquidity (a down payment)?

Whose fault is it that the people buying homes didn’t read the fine print, and only became outraged when their “teaser rates” began expiring and started reflecting the real world?

Do the banks and unethical mortgage loan brokers share some of the blame?  Absolutely.

But at least equal amounts of blame (if not more) are shared by the homeowners themselves.

If you signed a loan for what is for most people their single largest purchase in their lifetime, without reading the fine print, shame on you.

If you bought a home and couldn’t really afford the payments when your mortage started, shame on you.

It’s not the Federal Government’s role to bail you out for embarking on what is largely a foolish financial venture. Note: It’s foolish if you can’t really afford it.

And its not fair to the millions of people who responsibly purchased their homes with conventional mortages and sufficient incomes, and sufficient financial liquidity and reserves.  These are the people who are being unfairly burdened and whose taxes will go toward any kind of bailout program, that is sure to be in the hundreds of billions of dollars if enacted.

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Where Oh Where Do the Cyberhacks Come From?

April 10th, 2008 by Rick
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Ok, so I made an offhand remark about Chinese spam in my previous post.

But seriously, according to Symantec CEO John Thompson (speaking at RSA 2008), in the second half of 2007, the USA was the top origin of cyber attacks!

He also mentioned that identity exposure was the fault of Government 60% of the time – no big surprise here – how many stories have we seen about some Government employee losing or having had stolen a laptop that contained hundreds of thousands of Social Security numbers.

Another interesting stat was that the U.S. has the most bot-infected computers in the world.  Again, no big surprise here, as the U.S. likely has the highest number of computers (in totality) of any country in the world.

Granted, some cynics may question the source of these statistics.  After all, they come from Symantec, maker of the famous Norton Anti-Virus products.

But lets get real, shall we?  I don’t think anyone would deny that identity theft is a serious issue in today’s world.  And I think were we to look at some of the Computers in our own families, we know the terrible shape these computers are in – many with no virus protection whatsoever, or with virus signatures so outdated, having the program almost doesn’t matter.

It’s a shame, given that many of the best anti-virus software is available for free.  At the top of my head is AVG Anti Virus – free version (Windows XP/Vista and Linux i286).

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Chertoff Calls for Cyber-Security Program

April 9th, 2008 by Rick
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At the RSA 2008 Conference, Department of Homeland Security head Michael Chertoff called for a kind of “Manhattan Project” for Cyber-security, as detailed by News.com.

Ok, the news appears to make sense and seems appropriate.

But rather than giving speeches at public events, shouldn’t Chertoff and his staff be actively recruiting technology companies and staff?  Trying to build public support in Silicon Valley is fine, but how about detailing some of the steps you’ve already taken since the bill was signed in January?

You don’t need to go into details that would compromise National Security – even a general outline would suffice!

Then again, I’d be happy just to get rid of all the spam from China that I get in my mailbox every day – I mean, if we can’t achieve a win in the war against Spam, how can we credibly combat a higher level of cyberterrorism?

 

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